“Where are you?” my wife asked when she called me on my cellphone one afternoon.
“I’m in Walmart,” I answered.
“Oh. Are you running errands?”
“No, just running … or jogging, to be more precise. Running in the aisles is not permitted. I just heard a mother say that to her kid.”
“Why are you doing that in Walmart?”
I was not in the mood for a lengthy explanation, but here’s the gist of it. It was 92 degrees outside — far too hot to exercise. I had considered going to Costco, but I forgot to bring my membership card and there are too many stations along the aisles to sample food, which kind of defeats the point of exercising.
“Are you doing any shopping at all?” Mary Ellen asked.
“Oh, yes, over my right arm I have three T-shirts and I bought some hangers for my closet, which are in my left hand. I hadn’t planned on buying anything, which is why I didn’t take a cart. And this way I can go faster, although increasing my speed makes me look like a shoplifter.”
A full lap around the store’s perimeter is 1,000 steps, or about a half mile, but going up and down each aisle, I could easily log a full mile. After a while, I stopped to rest, because I was breathing heavily. I realized I shouldn’t have taken my break in the lingerie department when I saw moms whisking their kids as far away from me as possible.
I began my jog in produce and trotted through the meat department. I took a trip through the pharmacy. Then I zoomed through electronics, sped past tire and auto and toddled by toys. I picked up speed in the candy section to avoid temptation. I muscled my way through sporting goods and when I got to the cat food shelves, people were in the aisle sharing Instagram photos of their kitties. I slinked my way around them.
After circling the store three times, a security guard approached me. “What are you up to, sir?”
“About 4 miles an hour,” I bragged. Didn’t even get a smile from him.
At the old L.S. Ayres, I bought a dinner jacket for a cruise my wife and I were planning. The clerk forgot to remove the security tag, so when I left the store, the alarms went crazy.
“Where do you think you’re going with that coat?” a security guard asked.
“Alaska,” I said. Apparently, my comeback wasn’t funny then, either. Maybe it was the same guard.
When I got to Walmart’s check-out counter, the cashier said I owed $26.40, but my T-shirts and hangers should have only amounted to $22.
“What’s the additional charge?” I asked.
“Mileage,” she told me.