Just the other day, taking advantage of rain and a baby free day, I went along with my husband on a grocery, etc. shopping expedition to the nearest Walmart.
I can talk to anyone and a crowd doesn't bother me, but I've been known to have a panic attack surrounded by bright lights, too much commercial merchandise, and no easy exit. Seriously, if I'm going shopping alone (like, in my dreams or the distant past) I pop a headset into my phone and at least get music to focus on. I think it may be a focus issue -- the same thing that makes babies cry in stores. There is simply too much sensory overload. I want out.
Our local Walmart has been undergoing an interior renovation which husband and many friends have complained about, but I had not experienced first hand. The bit of shopping we did on the general merchandise side and in the toy department for Operation Christmas Child shoe boxes, was no worse than expected. Sure, things had been moved, but hey, Walmart does that.
Then I needed the restroom. Trust me, I'd had a quart of coffee and another quart of water, I NEEDED the restroom. Unfortunately the conveniently located one had a nice little guy in it cleaning. OK, so I'd go up front while my husband got started in the grocery section which I expected would follow a normal progression. I hike to the front of the store to find an unwelcome surprise.
The restroom area was completely blocked off with orange construction fence. OK, what am I supposed to do, walk to Circle K? If I leave you'll need ropes and chains to get me back in here. Instead I turn around and hike (and you know when I'm talking about Walmart I do mean hike) back to the back of the store again where luckily the guy who was about to get his head chewed off was gone from the ladies room. That burden eased, I went in search of my husband only to find an unanticipated wall of snack foods turned totally opposite its normal orientation.
No sign of my husband, but luckily I had a cell signal and called for help. Once I latched on to him I managed to survive but told him he'd narrowly escaped dragging me out of the store like a demented sister with a cheese doodle smeared face, orange fingers, and possibly wet pants. It was not a pretty picture, but one that was entertaining enough to made the trip's memories much more fun than the actual experience.
So if you ever see me alone in Walmart and I don't speak, look for a headset. And if you see me with an open bag of Cheetos, just help me find the exit, please. I'll be OK eventually.