Somewhere in Lompoc, USA

I’m laid up a bit again—this time with three broken toes.  Just call me Klutz.  I can get around ok around the house but I hobble like a decrepit old woman.  It’s been three weeks and I was going stir-crazy so I tried to go shopping a couple times, thinking that if I wore my tennies that are two sizes too big, and used the electric carts that are available in the stores, I could manage it.

Wrong.  The shoes were ok, but I was a wild woman driving those carts.  I don’t think the other customers appreciated me.  For one thing, the carts stop on a dime if you let up on the accelerator the least little bit.  I couldn’t see behind me, but I have a feeling some people were already a little aggravated being stuck behind me in the crowded aisles, and then when I would come to a sudden, screeching halt and they’d almost run into me, well…  One lady even came up to me, bent down and looked me squarely in the face and asked, “Are you okay?”  I was mortified!  I wished I had a bumper sticker just then that said, “Please don’t tailgate!”  Um… on the other hand, maybe not.

My problems with the electric carts did not stop there.  One of the carts I got would take to wobbling every once and a while.  It would zig-zag and shake like a little kid learning to ride a two-wheeler for the first time, while I hung on for dear life and called out, “Look out!  Look Out!  Sorry!”  Did I mention the aisles were very crowded?  I took one corner too sharply and knocked off some things that were hanging by hooks on a rack.  I was embarrassed already and then looked up to see three young men in their late teens/early twenties about eight feet in front of me.  They were jumping around, waving their hands in the air and saying things like “Watch out!  Woman driver!’ and “Clear the aisles!  Here she comes!”  I don’t think they were being mean.  They were laughing in a good-natured, friendly kind of way—just teasing me.  What could I do but laugh with them, and get off the stupid cart and pick up the things I’d knocked down!

All that to get around to the subject of my blog today… I’ve stayed out of the stores since then.  For one thing, that particular little excursion set me back to square one as far as my foot healing.  I came to the conclusion that I have to stay off of it, even at home, if I have any hope of it being better in time for Christmas.  Well okay, I thought.  Maybe I could do my Christmas shopping on the internet.  That actually sounded like a good idea!  Skip the crowds and traffic, the endless hunting for the perfect gifts, the wrapping and mailing and standing in line at the post office…  Just let my fingers do the walking on the keyboard and Ho! Ho! Ho!

That is where I ran into my second problem.  Bob and I never do financial transactions over the internet.  He is afraid that even with good security measures we will have hackers stealing our identity and causing us a lifetime of “issues.”  I am allowed to shop on the internet—but only if I can place the order over the telephone.  (Call us old-fashioned.)  My other rule, if at all possible, is to never pay for shipping!

I had a good time shopping at a couple of my favorite websites the other day from the comfort of my couch.  I was looking for gifts for Robbie and my daughter Julie’s family who live in Lompoc, California.   Ordered most of the things with no problem from one place using an 800 number and a friendly customer service representative.  Free shipping—whoo hoo!  This was going well!  Now I just had four more things to order at Walmart.com .

Now, there is a slight issue at Walmart.com .  They have no way to order over the telephone.  All orders must be made online and you do not get to speak to a friendly service representative—ever.  Ever, ever! However, if you are like us and do not put your credit card number out over the internet, then you can place your order online and then run to your local Walmart and pay for it there within 48 hours, after which they will process and ship your order. Fine and dandy.  I have done it before and it worked just fine.  With a slight difference.  In the past my order was shipped site-to-store for free and when it arrived I picked it up there at the store.  Did I mention it was free?

This order was supposed to be shipped to Julie in California.  Directly to her house—for free because the order was more than $50.  I put in the shipping address, including Julie’s full name, the street address, city, state, zip code—the whole shebang.  Clicked on it, set up the order, went to Walmart the next day to pay for it—and got an e-mail back from them saying the order was being processed—and shipped to Cynthia Griffith, Lompoc, CA, USA!  Say what???

Suddenly I felt like Waldo in Where’s Waldo?  I didn’t really care if they got the name wrong on the shipping label, but seriously—could you please include the street address?  Where in Lompoc, CA, USA is Cynthia Griffith???  I couldn’t speak to a service rep (friendly or not) to try to make sure they were actually sending it to the correct address.  The only way to get through to Customer Service was by e-mail.  My first e-mail brought an automated response which was of no help at all.  My second e-mail sounded a little more desperate and perhaps a bit more annoyed.  I received the exact same computer-driven response referring me back to the website’s FAQs.  I have no idea whether a real person will see my e-mails, or if a real person will see look at that shipping label before it’s sent out into Waldo’s World, or if I’ll get any help at all from a real, live person!  My biggest urgent issue is that there were two birthday gifts for Hannah’s 10th birthday in that order.  Her birthday is December 8th, and the package is scheduled to arrive between Dec. 5-7—just in the nick of time if it is not floating around somewhere in Lompoc, USA.

I know I am just an order number to Walmart.com.  Their system does not care about a stressed out and aggravated grandma or a little ten-year old who may not get her birthday presents.  Walmart.com is so huge it is not one bit concerned about Cynthia Griffith and her measly little problem with them.  They may get around to fixing it eventually, but it may be too late by then.  After all, they are trying to service hundreds of thousands, maybe millions, of customers.  There’s no way they can use real people with a little human concern and helpfulness to provide real resolutions to their customers’ problems.

Well, I know Someone Who is far bigger than Walmart.com and Who has billions upon billions more people for whom to care—and He knows every single one of them by name, not number.  He can pinpoint each person on earth without a street address, zip code or GPS location whether we are in the midst of the ocean (Psalm 139:9), surrounded by an enemy army (Psalm 27:1-3),  in the belly of a great fish (Jonah 2) or in the womb (Psalm 139:13-16).

Most precious of all, is the fact that not only does He know my name, He knows where I am and He sees me, but He is always with me and always thinking about me, personally.  Psalm 139 goes on to say, “How precious also are thy thoughts unto me, O God! how great is the sum of them!  If I should count them, they are more in number than the sand: when I awake, I am still with thee.” (vs. 17-18)  We may feel lost in this big world; unimportant and small, but we are cherished by God and under His wing.  “He shall cover thee with his feathers, and under his wings shalt thou trust…”  (Psalm 91:4)  How comforting!  How I feel loved!

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