Prepare for battle.

I’ve never seen a store more crowded than I did today. And while they already have the garden center un-gardenized and bursting at the seams with holiday decor, the place was more busy than I’ve ever seen it — even around Christmas.

Sundays are my shopping days, grocery and otherwise, and I tend to visit my neighborhood Walmart for such an excursion. Where else can a girl find a squeegee, cut flowers, potting soil, taboule, a star-shaped glass bowl and storage bins made from fabric and seagrass under one roof? Exactly. And given the shenanigans that often take place at this particular location — fights, thievery and panhandling — security is pretty high. Thus, I feel more safe venturing to Walmart than I do my dimly-lit, sketchy Vons.

The number of people wielding their carts like weapons was overwhelming. I was trying to snag a new tube of toothpaste, but got a few feet to the entrance of the aisle and was rammed in my surgeried knee by a basket being swung through the air by a screeching, seemingly demon-possessed child. I froze; I couldn’t breathe. The pain was so bad I was rendered speechless. I couldn’t even curse. F! I’m pretty sure I almost passed out. I decided I didn’t need a new tube for another few days, so I scrapped my mission, hobbled away and decided to get my mintiness on later this week.

Storage bins for my home office desk were next on the list, so I made my way around the perimeter of the store to get to their stash — “perimeter” because I assumed it would be safer than wandering through the thick of it all.

I was right, but found myself in the middle of a candy fight. A bag of Halloween candy had suspiciously come open, and kids were having a good time feasting and flinging the stuff while shoppers scurried past. In the midst of it all, one aisle called my name. Yes, the fishing/bait/tackle section provided much-needed respite and solace, not to mention a place to lick my wounds. The knee was throbbing, but I suppose it will be better tomorrow.

I made it home, more or less in one piece. It wasn’t one of my more pleasant trips to Walmart, but it was productive. The way I look at it is this: if you want something specific, you’ve gotta go after it and expect a few bumps along the way. If you’re OK with whatever happens to come your way, then it’s usually easier.

Who’s wandering through life? At times, I find that I am. They’re the easier times, but not necessarily the most fulfilling. When I’m on a path, I’ll get some push-back here and there, some naysayers, but at the end of it all — everything was worth it.

Tonight I am thankful for the life lessons Walmart reminded me of earlier. I could have done without the child clubbing my knee, but anything worthwhile, productive and fulfilling usually takes a little out of you.

Even shopping.

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