“Start the Car!”

If you watch way too much television as I do, then you’ll know what I’m talking about.

I’m not sure if this aired anywhere but Canada, but do you remember this IKEA commercial?

I think I got my first “Start the Car!” moment (as a friend of mine recently described it) today.

I went to Wal-Mart early this afternoon, searching for cheap fabric to make a last-minute costume for this party I’m going to tonight. So I’m rummaging around in the $1.77 bin, and I see this “Christmas Cotton” fabric – which doesn’t really look like it, unless you’re staring at the pattern long enough to think, “Oh, candy canes.”

I finally found a salesperson (who just happened to be passing by on the way to the garbage, when she noticed about 10 people milling about, looking for help) to cut me five metres of the stuff (don’t ask – long story). So the harried woman cut me the fabric and then scanned the barcode so she could staple a receipt for me to take to the cashier.

She then proceeded to tell me the fabric was not $1.77 per metre, despite it sitting in the $1.77 bin. Rather, it was something ridiculous, like $5.96 a metre. I said, “But it was sitting in the $1.77 bin.” She replied that maybe someone had put it there by mistake.


I’d been in the fabric department for something like 20 minutes looking for fabric so I could get the hell out of there and get home to work on this outfit. She asked me if I still wanted it, so I stupidly panicked and said, “Okay.”

Then I asked, “So what’s that, like, $25?” Um, no. Try $29.80.

It was right about at that moment when I felt like a big, sweaty chump whose friends probably paid a third of what she paid for fabric they’ll all only wear maybe once.

I was in a bit of a daze for a few minutes after that. An older sales clerk had just come over to the fabrics department to hang around for any potential customers. I went up to her and said, “I know this is a dumb question, but, um, once you cut the fabric, I have to buy it now, right?”

She nodded, probably looking at me and thinking, “What a moron.”

So I sighed, decided to cut my losses, grabbed some decorative flowers, and I sullenly made my way to the cash register. The school-aged cashier took my purchases and scanned them …

And while I pulled two $20 bills out of my wallet, he replied, “That’ll be $10.64.”

Still a bit dazed and trying not to look surprised, I handed him a $20 while simultaneously thinking, “WTF?”, got my change and left.

At first, I thought, Ten sixty-four! Eff YOU, Wal-Mart!

Then I thought, nah, that’s not right. There must be a mistake, and looked at my receipt. It said the material was $1.49 a metre, not the almost $6 I was quoted.

And then I was almost like, maybe I should tell the cashier there was a mistake

Except it was then I realized: the cashier didn’t punch in anything – he just scanned the barcode that was on the receipt.

I think under normal circumstances I’m an honest person. But after thinking I was getting robbed because I was going to have to fork almost $30 for fabric, I paid what the cashier – and the barcode – said I owed them.

As I strode farther away from Wal-Mart, all I could think was:

“Start the car, bitch. Start the car.”

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