Ok, I repent

I repent of all the cruel and disparaging comments I have made about Wal-Mart through the years.

I know that one bad experience can color my opinion about something forever.  Refusing to ever dine again at a restaurant that caused food poisoning comes to mind.  But how sweet it is when one good experience outweighs all the bad and makes me smile!

I am soon to embark upon that hallowed tradition of writing our family Christmas newsletter.  Oh, that it were as simple as that sounds.  Yes, I have to figure out what to say (and what not to say) about six people and twelve months.  I have to write it, proofread it, email it to everyone and get their input, make necessary adjustments, go to Staples to get appropriate paper, get it aligned to print properly, print it, fold it. . . but wait!  There’s more.

The mailing list needs to be reviewed and updated.  Labels have to be printed.  (Thank GOD for Scott.  No one knows why Mail Merge in Windows 7 is so hideously tedious, but Scott is able and willing to wrangle with it once a year to get our labels printed.  Whew!)  Stamps have to be ordered, and return address labels need to be printed.  One would think that would be enough, but no.

We typically include a family photo in with the newsletter.  Usually that picture is taken by my dad when we are all together (or not) at Thanksgiving.  Then there is some discussion over which picture is the best.  It is close to impossible to get all six of us to look good at the exact instant the shutter clicks.  Well, that’s not entirely accurate.  A good picture of the six of us cna be taken.  What can’t be taken is a picture which each of the six of us can individually review and honestly say, “I like the way I look in that picture.”  Anyway, we do try hard.

This past week, I reviewed the mailing list, made necessary changes (it seems that people are moving, dying, and/or divorcing at greater rates than they used to. . . ), and got Scott’s input on whom to drop and add, AND said all kinds of wonderful things to him while he mail merged, formatted, and printed labels for me.  What a nice guy!  I also ordered stamps.  (Be it noted that the US Postal service website gets more cumbersome and less user-friendly as the years go by, so Forever Stamps really are a good idea.  I should probably buy all that I will need for my natural lifetime because eventually a person won’t be able to order them at all!).  And, in a true fit of initiative, I remembered to email the family and ask what they thought we should wear for our portrait session with Grandpa.  I even asked Katie if there was a way to Photoshop in a picture of Jessica (who lives abroad) so we could all be in one picture together.

And Katie replied that she thought we were going to use one of the family pictures that Maria (professional photographer) took of us when we were all home together last summer.  Aha!!!  Well, yes.  So I found the picture.  It was saved on my computer, and it looked pretty good.  The only problem was that it had Maria’s watermark, and I was pretty sure that if I sent it to Wal-Mart online (which is how I normally order prints), they would refuse to print it because of copyright issues.

Maria had given me a letter granting permission for our family to print any of the photos on that disk, but in order to use that, I would have to physically go into the store, explain the situation, hand them the letter (which was not especially official-looking) and hope they would print the pics.

I didn’t want to go into the store.  For one thing, everyone knows how I feel about Wal-Mart in the first place.  For another thing, it’s the Christmas season.  It’s not even Thanksgiving yet, and I am already sick and tired of all the junk on display, not to mention the swarms of shoppers who fill the parking lot with their cars, the aisles with their bodies, and the checkouts with their full carts.  Wal-Mart emphatically does NOT put me in a thankful, Jesus-focused frame of mind!

But into the store I went.  It was on the way to Andrew’s piano lesson.  We left the house fifteen minutes early, hoping that that would give me enough time to go in, stand in line to use one of their upload machines, talk to a human, explain how I really did have permission to print 160 copies of a professionally-taken photo with a watermark, persuade them to do the prints, get back out to the car, and get Andrew to his piano lesson.

The bar was set quite high, and I knew success was unlikely.

We parked and speed-walked to the photo department.  (We would have run, but I have learned that for some unknown reason, even a very short run will leave me in hip pain for a couple months.  It’s just not worth it.)  There, I fumbled with an upload machine and finally asked Andrew to make it do whatever it should do.  Meanwhile, out of the corner of my eye, I spied the elderly gentleman who is the head of the photo department.  He knows everything and is nice, but he was waiting on another customer.

I kept watching him, and as soon as he was free, I approached and asked for help.  Jim was very polite and friendly – characteristics that I value deeply in service people – and he had no qualms about accepting my permission slip.  He helped me get through the dialogues to order the prints, scanned a copy of Maria’s permission slip, handed me back my flash drive and slip, and told me they’d be ready in 20 minutes.

WHAT?!?!?  AT WAL-MART?!?!?

I thanked him and we speed-walked back to the car, arriving five minutes early for the piano lesson.  Wow!

Afterwards, we returned to the Mart of Wals, speed-walked in, found Jim just where we had left him, examined the prints (they look great!), paid for them, thanked him for his service to our country (he’s a veteran), and left.  All told, we were in Wal-Mart for a grand total of something under twelve minutes, and I have 160 copies of a fun family photo sitting on my desk, just waiting to be labeled and inserted into our Christmas newsletter.

There were probably hundreds of other customers still in the store, wandering aimlessly amid all the junk for sale, but we were not two of them!

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