I bought a Garmin GPS at Walmart a few weeks ago. I feel so 21st century. Except, it doesn’t work well. Well, once you get the address punched in it works just fine, but getting it entered is a serious nightmare. I have to pound on the “Done” button like I’m driving a metal post into solid rock. I already took it back once and the new one is just as bad as the first. I’m really wishing I had selected the Tomtom.
I mentioned this to a friend and he shrugged and said, “Take it back again and get the Tomtom.”
“I can’t take it back again. Plus I've actually used this one and entered several addresses into it. Certainly they would refuse to take it back now.”
He rolled his eyes. “Take it back anyway and ask for your money back. What is the worst that can happen?”
People who ask that question do not write fiction. I sat forward and gripped my coffee cup. “What is the worst that could happen? I’ll tell you what the worst is than could happen.”
I placed the porcelain cup on the little coffee table and settled back in the wing-backed chair and told him the following scene.
I walk into Walmart and the clerk recognizes me.
“Didn’t you return your Garmin once already?” she asks, her eyes dropping to the GPS box.
“Yeah,” I say and heat infuses my cheeks. She sees it and presses home an advantage.
“So what is your problem with it this time?” Her eyes narrow into a glare.
“Same thing. When I press the “Done” key, nothing happens until I pound on it a dozen or more times.”
“Have you thought of reading the instructions this time? I noticed last time the instruction booklet hadn’t even been removed from the plastic bag.”
Thundering fires of Hades. Why hadn’t I thought to open that dang bag? I shrug and look past her at the shelves holding returned items and focus on something. She turns to see what I’m staring at and I rip open the box and attempt to open the instruction booklet bag. Her hand slams down on mine.
“Ha,” she says and her lips form a thin smirk of a smile. “I know your type.”
I hate being a “type” so I shake my head back and forth with earnestness. “No, no. I’ve seen a friend use his GPS, so I already knew how to use it.”
“If you knew how to use it, you wouldn’t have to return it a second time, would you?” Her hand disappears under the counter and reappears. A burst of light momentarily blinds me. She turns the camera around and shows me the picture of myself with my double chins and squinty eyes and the remnants of splotchy red color.
“I’m going to post this in every department. And then I’m going to enter it on “People of Walmart” website.
I’ve seen that site with people wearing pants that don’t cover their butts and shirts that end just before the bulging belly fat. Horrified I beg her not to post my picture on that site. Her head tilts and that drippy smile widens. With a breathy whisper she asks, “How are you going to stop me?”
Panicked and desperate I stammer out, “Okay, okay I won’t return this, okay?”
Foam forms in the corners of her mouth. “Not enough, Melanie Sherman.”
I reel back in horror. She knows my name. How does she know my name?
“Yeah, I remember your name from the first time you had the audacity to return the GPS."
“Okay, I won’t return it and I’ll pay you ten dollars.” I dig into my wallet.
“Not good enough,” she says. And then she recites my address. “Yeah, I got that off the one you returned. That was careless. Now we know where you live. And we know where your parents live."
It was true. I had picked up my parents for an outing to Walmart and entered in their address in the Walmart parking lot. The threat isn’t even veiled. She is telling me I’m going to “pay” for trying to return the devise.
“Okay.” My voice shakes. "How about if I just give it back and we’ll call it even. You don’t even have to give me my money back. You can just keep it.”
She fingers the box, spins it around, taps it with a fiery red nail. “Give me all your credit cards and cash. Oh, and that watch. I like that watch.”
“Okay, the GPS, the cash, my credit cards and the watch.”
She stares at me for a moment and her eyes drift down to my sunglasses dangling from my shirt. Her gaze raises slowly until it pierces mine. “And the sunglasses.”
I gulp. “They’re prescription. I can’t drive without--”
She picks up the phone and dials a number. I can hear the ringing in the earpiece. A husky voice answers. “She came back. I told you she would. You still have your gun?” she says into the phone.
“Okay, you can have the sunglasses,” I spit out, shoving them across the counter with my wallet and watch.
She grunts. “Okay, you can go. Just remember we know where you live.”
When I had finished describing this scene to my friend, he drained his coffee and nodded. “Yeah, maybe you just want to keep it. How often do you have to enter a number in the thing, anyway?”
Don’t ever ask me what’s the worst that can happen.
Editor's note: The above scene at Walmart is a random work of fiction.