Thursday, December 15, 2005

Shopping at Wal-Mart

Christmas shopping is not my favorite activity so I do my best to avoid large stores during the holiday season. Somehow four o’clock on a busy shopping afternoon found me surrounded by shopping carts piled high with Christmas treasures. I simply wanted to rush in, pick up some groceries and get back out as soon as possible. Shopping assistants were wearing cheery hats or buttoners; canned holiday music filled the aisles. Even in a small town or perhaps especially in a small town, Wal-Mart was bustling and filled with holiday cheer.

I had just located my husband with our cart and was reaching out to put in some soup when an announcement came over the loud speakers: “Attention all associates, attention all associates, code red, please go to your posts. Attention all shoppers please evacuate the store through the front doors. Attention all shoppers, please evacuate immediately through the front doors.” Associates moved to the ends of nearly every row and quietly encouraged us, “Please leave your shopping carts and exit through the front door.” Here and there we could hear a rumor that “the store’s on fire” I asked a woman who was wearing some kind of a badge if she knew for certain what was happening and she said “I heard that the store’s on fire.”

What a sight; hundreds of people all moving towards the front of the store. With the exception of a couple of excitable youngsters, all moved in a quiet and orderly manner. The exit doors were open and as people exited other associates encouraged us to “please move away from the front of the store.” Upon exiting the store I looked beyond the crowds of people for any clues that would help me to understand the problem. Stores don’t rush their customers out during peak shopping time without having a compelling reason…
No smoke, no sirens, no emergency vehicles, no signs of response from fire department or local police.

We moved out to our car with probably a thousand other shoppers, drove out of the parking lot, down the hill through two stop lights and out toward the highway before we saw any sign at all of emergency vehicles. A line of police vehicles began passing us; no lights and no sirens but headed in the direction of Wal-mart. A little further on, we saw a hazmat vehicle with lights flashing but couldn’t be certain where it was headed.

Now we are curious!!! I wrote e-mails to the Times Herald-Record and River Reporter asking if they had any information. Now I continue to wait for a response.

We know we were evacuated. We know that there are literally hundreds of carts filled with holiday shopping items that will need to be put back on the shelves of Wal-mart… but…what happened?


Blogger Dennis said...

and I thought working in NYC was adventerous. glad things turned out ok for you. Unfortunately now you have to go back to the store again later.

12:34 PM  

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