Walmart is an easy target — long lines, few checkout lanes open, and don’t get me started on the fashion fiesta that is Walmart at midnight! But I’m not going to jump on the “dump on Walmart” bandwagon. I frequent our local Walmart because most of the time, I can get everything on my list (or close to it) and they have the lowest prices and the easiest store savings app in the biz. So, this morning, when I heard the anchor tease a news story about mental health therapy services being offered as a pilot program in a Texas Walmart, I was intrigued.
My first thought was to dismiss it as a crazy idea, but then I realized that our local Walmart has an auto mechanic service, a pharmacy, a hair salon, a shoe repair shop, and an optometrist. I actually see (and LOVE) our Walmart optometrist, Dr. Miller. In the spring, one can even get income tax service at our Walmart. So, then I came around to thinking….why not? At the very least, I am intrigued by the idea of a counselor’s office in a store like Walmart. In a culture where mental health and the failure to identify and treat mental illness, why not think outside the box a little by moving into a big box store?
Then, as my mind will do, it wandered down the rabbit hole, further exploring and considering what this might look like. I joke about having OCD — not the kind of OCD that is helpful because it makes you hyper-organized and an excellent housekeeper, but the kind of OCD that makes you lose sleep if you think you accidentally ate an odd number of M&Ms. But the truth is, I do struggle with a lot of issues that might be considered compulsive and might require therapy.
So, come with me, if you will, to my fantasy Walmart Therapy appointments with Dr. Sam as we address my specific needs.
Issue 1: Parking Lot Rage
I hate parking lots and have many “rules” governing how I navigate them to avoid my triggers. First, I park as far away as possible because I hate to have to watch for pedestrians, I’m not too lazy to walk a bit, and I don’t like to waste time hunting for a closer place. So, in my pre-appointment intake paperwork for the appointment would instruct me as follows:
- I would be instructed to park as close to the door as possible, even if it requires me to drive around the parking lot for several minutes — up and down each lane.
- I would be forbidden from parking near a cart return. Another of my OCD “rules” — always park near a cart return, which I can’t even explain because I hate shopping carts and avoid using them at all costs. But sometimes, like when purchasing cases of soda or bags of water softener salt, they are a necessary evil. I don’t want to waste more time walking it to the return. Even though I seldom use shopping carts, I choose to park by a return every time because I like consistency.
- I would be challenged to not glare at and mentally curse those whom I call, “parking place stalkers.” These are drivers who will sit patiently while another shopper loads groceries in the car, straps her kids in the car seats, and backs out because God forbid the parking place stalker walk a few more feet.
Issue 2: Shopping Carts and Baskets
I have an inexplicable disdain for shopping carts — I hate them. They slow me down and the carts of other people just get in my way. I love when I go into the greeting card section and the entire sympathy section is blocked of my a shopping cart. Who needs a shopping cart in the greeting card aisle??? How many cards are you buying?
- I’d have to use a cart instead of, as per my usual practice, carrying two baskets and requiring everyone with me to carry two baskets. Typically my rule is, “if we can’t carry it, we don’t need it.”
- I will not be allowed to wipe the cart handle with sanitizer before affixing my bare hands to the handle. If this is too much, I may be allowed to wear the vinyl gloves which I have undoubtedly brought in from the car (for pumping gas.) We will work up to bare hands.
- I would have to be nice to other people — even those who are using carts, yielding and smiling warmly. I will do this instead of moving their carts or adding other items to them when they are not looking, like I normally do.
Issue 3: Public Restroom Phobia
I hate public restrooms. I have been known to stop drinking two days before going someplace like an outdoor concert venue where I might be forced to use a port-o-potty, the worst of my fears. This one will not be remedied in one appointment.
- Baby step one — just stand outside the bathroom for a while.
- Baby steps two through twenty-five (or however many it takes) — go inside the bathroom, a little farther each time.
- Baby step two hundred — use the bathroom. Like, for real, go in there, walk inside a bathroom stall, and pee. Of course, I would still assume the “hover squat,” position so as not to allow my bare tush to touch the seat. I would, of course, flush the toilet with my foot and wash my hands, because to do otherwise would be indicative of REAL craziness bordering on self-destructive behavior.
- When washing hands, I would be instructed to just let my mind go free instead of reciting the LORD’s prayer twice in my head, slowly, and with feeling, as a means of timing my hand-washing, as is my OCD custom. This might take a while.
Issue 4: Shopping
- Take the front item on the shelf instead of picking from the back as required by my compulsion.
- Resist the urge to reface the product once I have taken the item. Just leave the hole. *I’m itching just typing this.*
- Buy something that feels sticky, even if it’s not supposed to be. (“sticky” is my kryptonite)
- Buy a package of underwear while telling myself I am not going to run them through the wash before I wear them.
- Buy a package of M&Ms and eat it without counting. Were there an odd number in the package (in which case, I would normally toss out the last one)? I won’t know because I won’t count. I’ll just eat them and enjoy them.
- If the Walmart also features a gas station, pump gas bare-handed.
- Pick up meat and poultry products bare handed, instead of using an inside out plastic bag like a glove.
- Buy a package of fresh chicken and place it in only one plastic sack.
- Pay cash for purchase. (I try to avoid handling cash as much as possible because fecal matter.)
- Use self checkout, but when bagging groceries, place food items and non food items in a bag together. (This excludes meat, of course. Again, we are trying to treat mental illness, not promote it.)
- Use a real cashier instead of self checkout. Trust that the cashier to bag my groceries. S/he will do it wrong, but I must be OK with that.
- Shake someone’s hand. And don’t make a face like I just stepped in dog poop.
- If I see someone I know, I must wave and speak instead of hiding in a clothing rack.
- Take a small child with me and avoid saying, “Don’t touch anything or you will get super cooties and probably die,” as I used to threaten my daughter. (Which explains why I may run into her from time to time in the therapy waiting room at Walmart.)
- Go through an entire trip, from parking lot entrance to exit, without saying a single bad word.
When I get home, make more than one trip in from the car, even though I can totally carry all 50 sacks in one trip.
Maybe Walmart is the perfect place for a therapist to set up shop, huh? I can get my counseling, perform the therapy, and drop my Xanax prescription off at the pharmacy while I do my shopping.