Wal-Mart in the wind

At, oh, around say 6 p.m. or so my mother called to double-check that I wasn’t now changing my voter registration to Precinct YBR in Oz, Kansas or something after the kaboom surprise thunderstorms swept through the area.

Living in Over-the-Rhine the sound of thunderclaps have to be weighed against the sound of gun shots against the sound of fireworks being shot off against the whatever-the-hell-that-was sounds of everyday life down here – just to determine the best save-your-life way to react. Shall I: Go to the basement, run full speed to my car bent over at the waist, turn on my weather radio, call the police, get under my bed, request medical attention, carry my baseball bat around, just write in my Blog or step away from the window? It’s a tough call sometimes, but for those not familiar with the area, usually stepping away from the window is a good call no matter what.

No rain in OTR today, which is odd with the permanent black cloud overhead. (It’s worth noting here that I truly love living in this neighborhood, but it has its challenges. I think I have a right to poke fun at my leisure.)

But anyway, way out in the suburbs from whence I came and my parents still live and have moved farther out into, my Mother found herself at Wal-Mart when the rough weather struck. And here’s where my funny tail begins, told from my Mom to me, and now to you, with some embellishment…

Judy (my mom) walks into the Colerain Avenue Wal-Mart, gets about 50 feet in and the front doors of the store blow open and hail and heavy rain begins to fall outside. Undoubtedly filled with shoppers about that time, the Wal-Mart blue-smocked workers started ordering people to the ground. Every shopper for themselves.

I could only imagine witnessing all this. To me, this conjured up images of Wal-Mart worker-heroes putting to use the employee training they never thought they’d need. That sleepy day in training just hours after they were handed their pin-less bright blue polyester smock with the “How May I Help You” emblazoned across the back, told the dress code and given a load full of crap about teamwork. And then there was that sorta interesting part of the training manual about what to do in an emergency, Code Adam gone awry, or when the flimsy construction of the store’s roof blew off in a stiff breeze. Just like today, when Judy, my Mom, was picking up some sundries.

Snapping into action, I can only guess those workers were thinking it’ll be just mere hours before the Bentonville, Ark. television commercial production staff would be setting up movie lights in the parking lot. That bouncing yellow smiley face would be there applying make-up in a trailer nearby. Then they’d all star in a community-oriented Wal-Mart TV commercial, aired nationally during the Super Bowl.

But alas, the roof stayed intact and the circular clothing racks presenting the Chinese-made sweat pants cushioned the fall of the people ducking for cover. No need for the clerks to tear their blue smocks into long, narrow strips to apply tourniquets to the wounded or administer CPR to Granny as the stress ‘o the moment caused blood to clot in her elderly lungs. Also no need for leg splints for those caught in the cinder-block rubble.

Surprise, though. Target, brand-new and just a few miles south and only a quarter mile from where the new Super Center Wal-Mart is being built along Colerain Avenue – that place was blown to bits. Workers and shoppers strewn everywhere… There is a God. And he loves Wal-Mart. Okay, just kidding about this last part.

Okay. I admit, that was odd. How ’bout we talk about my black bathroom? Alright? Good.

I’m in the process of buying a little home. In it, there’s a little bathroom. In that bathroom I’ve chosen to put in black elements, like a black whirlpool bathtub and a black sink and a black toilet.

Never have I known the costs associated with blackness. Take your average toilet. It costs like $400. My word. A toilet? That much? I have a whole new respect for toilets. But get this: My black toilet? Like $800. That’s ridiculous. The matching black pedestal sink was like $400. On a per square-foot basis I think I may end up having the single most expensively-equipped room in Northside – maybe even the city. And you’re all invited to pee in it when it’s done.

G’night.

Author: Joe Wessels

Joe Wessels is a freelance journalist and photographer. Wessels covers local news events for Thomson Reuters news service and features for About.com's Cincinnati Guide site, plus is the executive director of hyperlocal news site, iRhine.com. He wrote for The Cincinnati Post, covering Cincinnati City Hall and Hamilton County government and wrote a weekly political column, which continued weekly at Cincinnati CityBeat. Previously, he was a reporter for the Cincinnati Business Courier and writes or has written for several publications in Cincinnati and around the country including The Cincinnati Enquirer, Las Vegas Review-Journal, Cincinnati Magazine, Cincy Magazine and the Sacramento News & Review. He is a native of Colerain Township, one of Cincinnati's western suburbs, and now lives in Over-the-Rhine near downtown Cincinnati. He has a Bachelor of Arts degree in psychology and a journalism writing certificate from the University of Cincinnati. He also graduated from Colerain High School, is an avid photographer, news junkie and was once a roller rink disc jockey, and sometimes rides a scooter around town.

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