Friday, June 20, 2008


I rarely go to the doctor. It takes a severed limb or a rash described as weeping or some other issue I can't just hide beneath a hoodie before I'll consider stepping into a doctor's office, what with their Highlights magazines and non-porous plastic chairs and ballpoint pens advertising the types of medication that can cure whatever disease you'll contract by using a pen that's been handled by a number of sick people.

My policy toward illness is that if you ignore it, it will go away, which is the same approach I use for cavities and calls from collection agencies. I'm not completely careless; I will occasionally attempt a self-diagnosis on Web M.D., an activity that always ends with my assumption that this unyielding headache means that either I have meningitis, skull cancer, or termites.

The same goes for injuries. If I can, say, set a broken finger by pressing it between the pages of a heavy hardback book like a wildflower I'm trying to preserve, I will do so in the hopes that it will just clear itself up. I may have done this more than once.

That said, on Sunday when my iPod stopped working, I couldn't seek help fast enough. Less than twenty minutes passed from the time it choked on Cat Power and when I was breathlessly standing in a customer service line, stroking its smooth silver back and assuring it that everything would be OK.

I'd just purchased that nano over Easter weekend when my previous 'pod (Reginald, R.I.P.) offed itself after a 16 mile run. It could've been condensation from the unholy heat that made it feel like my route detoured through the devil's asshole. Or it could've been because it was strapped dangerously close to my armpit for the better part of 2 hours. Either way, I didn't hesitate to abandon the family fish fry in favor of racing to replace it at Wal-Mart, the only store open on Easter. Sure, Chick-fil-A may close on Sundays but I'm pretty sure Wal-Mart keeps the doors unlocked on all religious holidays in the oft chance that when Jesus comes back he'll need to buy a charcoal grill.

I still had my receipt and assumed that there wouldn't be any issue with the exchange, especially since this was the store that gave my mother a refund for my dead goldfish. I took a place in line behind a woman trying to balance an infant on her shoulder and talk on her cell phone at the same time, all while tightly gripping something in an "Always Low Prices" shopping bag with both hands.

The baby raised its head to look at me, a spitlactite stretching from its mouth to Mom's well-worn Rusty Wallace shirt. It couldn't have been more than a couple of months old but its ears were already pierced. Twice.

Crowds of people tend to make me uncomfortable. It was mid afternoon so the place was packed, people swarming around the cash registers to purchase bottles of blue-lawed beer. Watching the shoppers dart through the store, their crap-laden carts barely clearing the overflowing racks, reminded me of seeing a colony of ants teeming around a carelessly dropped glob of cupcake icing. A bare chested, barefooted man walked by with two cases of Bud stacked on his shoulders. No shirt, no shoes, nobody gives a shit.

Sometimes stereotypes just save time.

A guy with a brand new haircut stopped behind me in the queue. You could tell by the untanned trenches around his ears and the back of his neck that it had been done recently and the ragged edges said he'd most likely done it himself, possibly while being mauled by a bear or getting rear-ended by a logging truck. I sneaked a peek at what he was returning and wasn't at all surprised to see that it was a pair of Conair hair clippers.

We inched forward. I was in the on-deck circle as Piercing Pagoda's mom plunked whatever she'd been clutching to her breast on the counter. I leaned over her shoulder, trying to see what it was that she'd held so tightly, expecting it to be a small crossbow or a large cubic zirconia or a human kidney, any of which were available for purchase in the store. She peeled the plastic away, leaving a clear container from the bakery department.

"I need to return this", she said, pulling the top off to reveal a half-eaten angel food cake.

"Did it go bad or something?", asked the Returns rep, a valid question. The haphazardly placed stickers on the name tag said her name was Celica, possibly a nod to the car where she was conceived. Or born. Her tag was decorated with a smiley face sticker which was the direct opposite of her own expression. Its beaming yellow face only had two eyes and a mouth, whereas Celica's also had a nose that looked like someone had chewed an entire package of Bubble Yum and then mashed the whole misshapen wad into the middle of her face.

"Nope. It was fine, I guess. I just didn't know that's what angel food cake was." She sounded disappointed, like she'd expected to bite into the meaty thigh of an actual angel.

"So you just didn't like it?"

"Nope", she said, "It just don't taste like what I thought it was going to." The baby started tugging at one set of its studs, sputtering like it was on the verge of an explosion. "And don't you start neither, Shiloh."

SHILOH. I would've bet a cherub kabob to anyone within earshot that she'd mined Us Weekly for that bit of inspiration. I also assumed that it was spelled Shylow--or perhaps ShyLow. The possibilities were endless. And retarded.

Celica took the receipt, placed a day-glo green sticker on the cake and threw it into a shopping cart full of possibly flammable pajamas, unresponsive remote controls, and other scratch n' dents returned today, the retail equivalent of the Island of Misfit Toys. She carefully counted out a handful of change as Shiloh's mother answered her phone, which was ringing to the tune of an AC/DC song. "Let me call you back. I'm at the Wal-Mart again".

"Next," Celica exhaled and I walked to the counter.

"Good afternoon!" I began. "So, my iPod stopped working this morning and I--"

She cut me off. "You'll have to talk to 'lectronics. I'll radio somebody". She unclipped a walkie-talkie from her belt and summoned someone from the 'Lectronic department. She didn't get an immediate answer, so she placed the walkie on the counter, intensely focusing on it like it was about to do a trick or turn into a dove.

"Shut up Maria!" the man behind me said suddenly. "Show me some Hispanic dancing." It took me ten ticks to realize that he was singing along--incorrectly--with the Counting Crows song spilling out of the store's speaker.

A Wal-Mart employee who looked exactly like Punky Brewster's best friend Cherie if she'd eaten both Punky and her entire mismatched sneaker collection stopped and peered at the pile of returned items. "What's up with this cake?" she asked, plucking it out of the front seat of the shopping cart.

"Nothing. Woman said she just didn't like angel food."

Cherie nodded, removed the cake and took it with her into the back room.

A muffled voice finally crackled out the walkie talkie. Celica snatched it off the counter, gave a quick "Okey doke", and waved me to the side. "They'll be right here. They're on their way," she said with relief, like she'd just talked to an ambulance dispatcher and not someone who unlocks the case where they keep the digital cameras.

"Next," she shouted as Supercuts walked forward, still singing to himself about "Mister Joe and me".

A small, dark-haired woman wearing a matching walkie-talkie materialized behind me. "I'm here helping you please?", she asked as I spun around. She was the size of a decorative salt shaker and, on her, a nametag looked like a license plate. It said Maria.

I explained my problem, and she smiled and nodded the entire time, giving me the same I have no idea what the fuck you're saying expression I tend to use when my dad explains why I needed to pay something called taxes. She waited for me to finish, shook her head vigorously and said "Seven days. Sorry."

"What does that mean, seven days?"

"No, you can't return your iPod after seven days. So sorry but store policy says." She shrugged and raised two unnatural eyebrows that had been painted on with what looked like peanut butter. English wasn't her first language. Neither was that pile of predicates she just broke out.

"But I'm not returning it. It's broken. I need a new one."

"Seven days." Seven days. She sounded like the demon child from The Ring.

I wanted to argue with her, to stomp my foot and point out that the woman ahead of me returned A PARTIALLY EATEN DESSERT but for whatever reason, my receipt and this $200 paperweight were my problem? "Is there a manager I can talk to?" I asked, on the verge of smearing her eyebrows across her forehead.

"Manger, sure. I will call the Manger." She unclipped her walkie and quietly spoke into it. It responded with the end of an unrelated conversation about an employee burrito order. "Fuck no, man. No beans on mine. Last time, I shitted my balls out."

Maria looked at me sadly. "Sorry. It's seven days. You can wait here for the Manger"

Sigh. Shut up, Maria.

I waited, assuming that eventually either I'd see a person with some kind of authority or receive a bed of straw suitable for birthing the Christ Child.

Several more people came through the customer service line, all succesfully trading their busted stuff for a wad of bills. A vacuum cleaner with a broken hose. A dented can of Dinty Moore. An Ace bandage. I was eagerly waiting to hear an overweight woman's explanation for returning a box of Pampers--maybe she learned that the baby wasn't hers?--when a profusely sweating man who looked like the "After" photo in a meth-prevention pamphlet tapped me on the shoulder.

"I'm Justin, the Electronics manager" he said, wiping his forehead with the back of his hand. Apparently you don't have to wear any identification if your name is tattooed prominently down your forearm. "And I'm real sorry, but you're going to have to just ship this back to Apple." He waited for me to say something, seemingly accustomed to being yelled at. " many times have you charged it?"

"No idea," I said, already wondering what I was supposed to entertain myself with during my runs, when walking Pigpen, or when trying to avoid speaking to people in the gym. "So you can't help me at all?"

"Well...have you tried turning it on?" No, Douchebucket, I didn't. Nor could I find a defibrillator tiny enough to fit on the clickwheel. "Did you leave it out in the rain?" His questions were so ridiculous, talking to him was like watching a Family Feud episode where someone shouts out "BACON!" when asked to name a style of architecture.

I assured him that I'd tried turning it on, plugging it in, and performing CPR on it. He scratched his head. "Cause it's been more than seven days since you bought it". Again, not at all a related response. I got the feeling that for Justin, even EZ Mac becomes Painfully Difficult Mac. He started to explain why I should've purchased the extended warranty but I shook my head during the exposition.

"Thanks anyway, I guess. Enjoy your burritos".
My final errand of the day was to go to Target for a refill on my birth control pills. I recently switched from a store that rhymes with Ballgreens because Target offers generic 'scrips for $9 versus the $35 I'd been slapping down. Thanks to Target, I'm only paying 32 cents a day for a color coded reminder that I'm not having sex. Of course I could just as easily spend $9 for a month's worth of Skittles, which would still give me all the contraceptive protection I need.

The Baby Away was ready on time, the day's one crumb of good fortune, and when I peered in the bag I was pleased to discover that their brand comes in a soft blue case that looks like a little passport. Now I can pop one of these pills on my lunch break and my coworkers won't think I'm a godless whore, they'll just assume I'm well-traveled.

"Oh, J-Money!", the pharmacist called as I was wondering what countries would let me in if I showed them that I wasn't capable of ovulating. "You've only got one more refill."

I turned and looked at her quizzically. "That means you're going to need to go see your doctor."

Great. I wonder what she can do for an iPod.


Victoria said...

I think I just hurt myself laughing at your blog.

Dexter Colt said...

Buy new iPod. Return old iPod. Wipe hands on pants.

But, it is nice to know I can return a half-eaten cake...

busypretending said...

Amazing. Thanks for letting me laugh at your expense. I could only dream of getting a defib and $9 worth of skittles into the same blog post.
You rock!

Xenia said...

Come on over to the UK--birth control pills are free! Thank you, NHS.

The Shiloh bit was so unsettling, yet so funny. Why do people do that to their kids?

Gilahi said...

The woman in front of you lied. Angel food cake is a staple of the southern diet. It's ubiquitous. It's the tiramisu of the tractor set. Right up there with banana pudding. There's no way she could have reached puberty and thus the ability to reproduce without knowing what angel food cake tasted like.

Julie said...

Maybe you should have told them that the iPod wasn't what you expected. You thought it would be like angel food cake.

Laura said...

Wow, that entry was classic. I don't really have a comment on the actual content - just that I laughed really hard reading it.

Ben said...

Oh.My.God. I've returned things that I didn't even BUY at Wal-mart and they gave me my money back...

That's out of control.

Also, thanks for teaching me that US Walmarts still manage to be more white trash than Canadian ones.

deutlich said...

If your iPod is giving you the clicking sounds of death and the sad face - there's a way to fix it!! It's really simple, actually.. just sort've a pain in the ass.

And only do-able if you're willing to crack that sucker open. I resuscitated mine a lil' while ago/the same trick

Email me at if that's the case. I'll fill you in.

Re: the doctor/illness/cavities - SAME HERE. If I ignore it, I'm sure it'll go away.

lathan said...

Nothing says class like pierced baby. Sorry about your ipod!

Movie Maven said...

His questions were so ridiculous, talking to him was like watching a Family Feud episode where someone shouts out "BACON!" when asked to name a style of architecture.

It's hard to choose just one line, but this one had me almost spitting out Diet Coke all over the desk of the dude whose desk I'm currently occupying.

Spufidoo said...

I also nearly did myself an injury laughing at your blog entry! In the office, too. Glad it's empty. Yes. I go to an empty office. Well, sometimes people show up and do stuff. Recently, I've taken to routing the phone line to my mobile and just staying at home. So far, no-one has noticed. Apart from yesterday, when, wifi-ing in the garden whilst on the phone to a colleague, my 20 month old daughter looks up imploringly at me, and hands me something. It was a snail. Well. Most of one. My phone conversation took an interesting turn after that. Why am I telling you this? I dunno, really. I'm just in a happier mood after reading your blog.

Keep it up!

Kaeti said...

I've got a similar passport-like case for my pills. Too bad there's not a place to get a stamp for every nationality you've "visited." (My vibe is German. Does that count?)

J-Money said...

victoria: I'm so sorry. Please don't sue me?

dexter colt: See, that's the problem. They print the iPod's serial number on the receipt. I tried to do that little switcheroo when Reginald my first iPod died.

busypretending: People have been laughing at my expense for 29 years. Thank you for joining the team.

xenia: See, I can think of several other places where birth control pills should be handed out for free, starting with Wal-Mart.

gilahi: You make a valid point. If she'd said she'd never had a moon pie or a Marlboro, I probably would've called the bullshit police.

julie: giggling I like you.

laura: Sweet! Thanks for plowing through all 3,000 words.

ben: Returning things you didn't even buy there? Please tell me you've tried to trade in, like, a muffler or a chimpanzee or something.

deutlich: I'll be e'ing you with the quickness.

lathan: Pierced Baby would be an excellent name for a band. It is a horrible title for a chapter in a child-rearing book though.

movie maven: I see you drink Diet Coke. I drink Diet Coke too. We should obviously be best friends.

spufidoo: I used to work in an ad agency. People handing you snails or clumps of dirt while you were on the phone was an almost daily occurrence. But your comment still made me smile in spite of myself.

J-Money said...

kaeti: I think we should petition the pharmacies for pages to attach to the back cover of the case. Of course, you'd look way cooler with your German stamps than I would, sadly wondering to myself whether "Old Guy" counted as a nationality.

Beth said...

Oh Walmart. That is why I never go there.

Targets more my thing. Although sometimes I wonder about the people and employees there too..

RazZDoodle said...

I bow down before you and your superior writing. Without any hyperbole and/or sarcasm, that was the funniest damn thing I've ever read.

JB said...

We had a dog named Shiloh. We returned him to the pound because he was schizophrenic and kep trying to kill both himseld and my baby sister.

I wonder if the Wal-Mart Momma will return her Shiloh because, "I just didn't think a baby would be like this. You know, poop and spittle and be dependant on me."

JustinS said...

I read One Hundred Years of Solitude recently. Book was fabulous, so good that it made me feel guilty about writing out even a grocery list... or my name... because, clearly, Marquez was sooo much better than I could ever be.

And this post? Just did the same for blogging. Excuse me while I go take mine down before it becomes an affront to this fucking amazing story.

Mariko said...

'Funny' enough, my iPod also died several days ago! At least you didn't have to see the "sad iPod icon", that really was too much for me. And without any backup... Well, I hope you'll get a new one soon! Good luck! (^_^)

Rachel said...

Dang...That sucks about the Ipod! I would definitely not be happy about that!

Kristina said...

Don't you wish you could put ShyLow's mom, the gym puker, and the Kate Spade tote lady from your store in the same (padded) room to see what happens? I sure do.

Miss Lili NC said...

My advice, not that you asked for it, is to buy another ipod just like the one you have and return the old one in the new box to Walmart...within your (whispered) Seven Days. I recently returned a half empty bottle of fat pills, no questions asked. By the way, I always thought it was "Shut Up Maria!" too...

Sizzle said...

If I had been drinking water, I would definitely have shot it out my nostrils.

The part about the beans and the shitting balls and the name Celica and the peanut butter eyebrows. HA!

stuff. said...

We're best friends.

Katelin said...

haha you are awesome.

i definitely freak out if my ipod even takes too long to turn on. but yeah that cough, it can last two weeks before i really start to care about it, haha.

The Fella said...

My Two Favorite Lines:

Sometimes stereotypes just save time.


"Thanks anyway, I guess. Enjoy your burritos".

You and I should be friends.


always rebellious said...

She could've been named after the Battle of...

As a native Mississippian, I'm not sure which is higher on the redneckery scale.

Mike said...

I once went to wal mart.

I felt thin. Anorexic actually.

I felt smart. Genius actually.

Gotta find the silver lining right?

*DesignerGirl24* said...

a)hilarious. b) someone may have already mentioned this and i just didn't read far enough down on the comments, but have you tried resetting it? I kid you not, mine randomly "broke" the other day and I was forced to run at the gym sans music and it was torturous. So i started looking online for why an ipod might stop working for no reason and I came across the reset option. I have copied and pasted the miraculousness for you below:

To reset iPod, iPod (scroll wheel), iPod (touch wheel), and iPod (dock connector)

Toggle the Hold switch on and off. (Slide it to Hold, then turn it off again.)
Press and hold the Play/Pause and Menu buttons simultaneously until the Apple/iPod logo appears, about 6 to 8 seconds. You may need to repeat this step.

You may or may not have already tried this but it's worth a shot!

Stephanie said...

I love your blog, it's so funny!

Phil said...

Maybe take the iPod to another Wal-Mart and tell them you bought it five days ago. Or better yet, take it to that SAME Wal-Mart and tell them that, because it sounds to me like they'd be dense enough to believe it.

Becca Jaffe said...

"detoured through the devil's asshole" = my favorite expression!
You did me proud by accurately describing a typical visit to the Walmart, it's like deja vu. Sorry about the Pod.

Maxie said...

I ignore medical issues too... i figure if it's bad enough I'll pass out at some point and an ambulance will take me to the hospital. or i'll die. whatevs.

Christy said...

As the wife (that's right, we have sex) of a perfectly capable & brilliant (one of a kind, really) employee/manager at Walmart, I have to take this blog lightly assuming you live in the middle of NOWHERE where ONLY high school kids (& possibly younger) & the dumbest of all the local rednecks can work there. & seeing as how Walmart puts food on our table (tasting good 99.7% of the time...the other .3% being my fault), I have to mention that it's really not that bad if you know what you're looking for, & go to the smarter people's lines! =)

My advice for you? Next time, try going directly to Apple or going to the internet for your "fix-it" answers...usually helps better anyway & you don't have to go through the horrible hassle of dealing w/potentially headache-causing people. Good luck! PS: I still love you (or your writing...all the same)!

Paula said...

I too will do my best not to go to the doctor, dentist, opticians . . . I don't really trust ipods. Or Apple in general. Deep seated issues perhaps?

file this under: makes sense, does it? said...

yes, but a packet of skittles wouldn't help you with "indoor activities"

Muse said...

You just made my Sunday. This post is hilarious - so many good bits.. I think my favorite is the one about Punky's friend Cherie who possibly ate little Punky (who by the way I actually met back in the height of Punky-mania, and I just typed "pukey" instead of "Punky").

Lastly, "shut up, Maria" is classic. I love incorrect lyrics.

You're totally on my list of daily reads now.

Your Girlfriend is Ugly said...

Wal-mart gives me hives.

Apple offers 10% off a new iPod when you bring back your old one. Just sayin'.

thatShortChick said...

wow..i didn't think i could love your writing any more than what i do now after reading this post.

missy - i can see you writing books in the style of david sedaris one day.

Two Left Feet said...

with skittles you may be able to taste the rainbow, but with bc pills you can taste the... well, you get the idea. stick to the pills.

moxie said...

my neck hurts from the number of times I nodded while reading this post. Fuck. Walmart. It's proof that hell exists and is located somewhere between aisles 2 and 7,350. My older brother bought me a $20 Walmart gift card for graduation and I wouldn't talk to him for weeks.

$9? Target? Hmm...

Ashley said...

HAHAHA, I just got done falling out of my chair at work laughing so hard at this! HILARIOUS! The Apple store direct is much better at dealing with these things... I'd go straight for them. Just found you awhile ago thru 20 Something bloggers- great writing!

yoritomo said...

This post was amazing and actually made me feel better about the world-since you are in it.

PS: how dumb do you have to be to be defeated by the word verification? i swear to god 1 looks too much like 1, even the same in this font. Fuckers, use caps.

Tiny Frog said...

holy hell! how hysterical!

you and i must shop at the same Wal-Mart.

God I loathe that place.

Marianne said...

I've also self-diagnosed many a brain tumour - usually turns out to be a cheese-graine but it's worth it to worry yourself into ACTUALLY having a tumour right?!

Loved this post, very glad to have found your blog!

Anonymous said...

Please be a Jezebel writer and show them what funny is.

deutlich said...

Yeah. Uhm. Hi!

We're blog swap buddies.

And I might've clapped for joy when I saw that.

And by "might've" I mean "definitely"

d said...

totally fucking classic.

Jenn said...

You think you've got it rough... try working for those pigs. I put in six years of hell and torture at that place with the "Low Prices" taking orders from people with half the intelligence of a fruit cup. I hated most of their policies and usually explained to customers that I could not return the item because my bosses where tight fisted idiots that where getting blowjobs during the last policy meeting and therefore where unable to pay attention. This usually satisfied them sufficiently on my part anyways. I am sure that they lost a lot of customers through the years thanks to me. lol. That makes me happy!

Melanie said...

Oh. my. gosh. I stumbled on yuor blog through a link on a friend's blog today and have been reaidng through some recent posts. I laughed SO hard at the paragraph about your birth control vs. skittles. I feel like that everytime I go get a refill. At least it's helping keep my skin clear while I sit at home on the weekends.

Marinka said...

Hysterical! I'm so glad that Alice linked to you. Shiloh. Don't get me started.

Biddy said...

pardon me while i go clean up the pee puddle.

hahahahaaaaa i love this post!

oh, and i work for my local school district. you would not BELIEVE some of the craptastic names these idiots bestow upon their unlucky kids...

Adriane said...

"Baby Away" is the best pill code evah!

Thank you for the good laugh this morning.

katiekins said...

a couple years ago i decided to stop taking birth control because i wasnt having sex...and you know what happened? someone had sex with me. and you know what happened then?

a baby came out of my vagina.

ok actually, technically she came out of a giant hole that a team of doctors cut in my stomach, but i'm always looking for excuses to say "Vagina".

Jenny, the Bloggess said...

Featured on Good Mom/Bad Mom on The Houston Chronicle:

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The woman in front of you lied

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