Typical open-topped freezer case you find at your grocery store...not unlike the one I'm talking about at Walmart.
Yesterday my daughter and I ventured over to Walmart.
For reasons unbeknownst to anyone who has a remote inkling of how to do things, the powers that be at our local Walmart redesigned and redesignated all the aisles and moved everything from where it used to be to places that no one in their right minds would put it. It's like they took the entire store's contents, tossed them into a giant Walmart happy-face hat, and pulled aisles out at random and relocated them. Consequently I (and everyone else looking for things there) can't find anything at all. Those PUR and Brita water pitchers? Next to the toilet seats...DUH! Which, by the way, is in the same exact aisle as PAINT. Who'da thought? Well, paint USED to have lead in it - the water filters take the lead out (at least some)...so logically they'd be in the same aisle, right?
Anyway, that's not what my "beef" is.
My daughter says to me that cheesesteaks would be a good dinner idea...and I agree. Being from Jersey, which is a hop, skip and a jump away from Philadelphia...and being in Alabama (and I don't care what Craig Ferguson says about "Salem's Diner" in Birmingham having the best Philly cheesesteaks he ever had...anywhere) I miss my cheesesteaks. And being that I can concoct an "okay" facsimile...I agree and opt to make them for dinner last nite.
I actually think the secret to great cheesesteaks has got to be those Amaroso's rolls you never used to be able to get anywhere but the NJ/PA area (you can get them elsewhere now...go figure)...but I digress once again.
So, the Steak-Umms in Walmart are usually inside those "open air" aisle freezers - the kind without a lid on them - not the stand-up kind of freezer with the doors. And, glory glory...they didn't move them like they did everything else in the store...they are right there where they've always been.
I reach my hand down for the third pack from the top like I always do...and it's warm. I swear the Walmart air temperature was colder than the Steak-Umm package I now had my fingers wrapped around. I go and look at the temperature gauge and it's reading around 60+ degrees. The other thermometer in the same case further down is reading 50-something.
Now, I'm not stupid - I know freezer cases "cycle". But this food was the "Damn, I left this out on my counter instead of putting it away!" temperature. When the freezer cycles into the "defrost mode"...the food doesn't magically get warm and then freeze up again.
And heaven knows how long all this stuff was at this temperature - so I call a stocker lady over. She sticks her hand in there and remarks something to the effect of "Oh...this is NOT good!" and scurries off. So, naturally I assume she's going to call someone who will get to work fixing the case and promptly tossing all the bad food out.
Enter me and my daughter...into the same Walmart today. We have an hour to kill before getting her medicine from CVS, so we head on over to kill it there.
Me, again, being of the curious nature, decide to saunter over to the "Steak-Umm" case to see if they've tossed the food from yesterday out.
Big empty area inside the case exactly like yesterday: Check.
Steak-Umms piled up exactly like yesterday: Check.
Hamburger box tossed over on its side when the lady felt around the case - in the same exact position as it was yesterday: Check.
I left the aisle in disgust. "I'm going to make some calls tomorrow." I say to myself. I'm like that. I do those kinds of things. I may be little...but I am just as big as anyone over the telephone.
So, as we're still having to wander around for a while, we decide to go look at water pitchers again as I've probably contributed the equilvalent of filling up one landfill already with my empty plastic water bottles...and I feel pretty guilty as it is for doing so.
But not as guilty as to not report this Walmart infraction to someone today before someone inadvertently reaches for a nice "formerly warm/now frozen" package of tasty Steak Umms to unsuspectingly cook up for their family tonite.
As luck would have it...and no one ever asks me if I need help in Walmart (they usually run the other way like I have the plague...or ignore me totally as if I'm invisible) so it must be a sign -- a man walks up to us as we are making our way over to the "water pitcher/toilet seat/paint" aisle, and asks if "everything's okay today".
So I chirp up "No, it really isn't" and I state my case about the case. As we are walking he admits they had a freezer fixed this morning. The case I lead him to...isn't the one it was.
I then get a 10-minute spiel from him trying to convince me "it cycles" and that's why the temperature gauges were reading 60. Then another man joins him (who happens to be an assistant manager) and he further tries to convince me of the "cycling" theory.
But, you know what? I'm 50 years old. I've stuck my hands in more freezers over the years than a gynecologist specializing in frigid women has. I KNOW what room temperature feels like and I know what COLD feels like. I also know what the case looked like when I reported it to the woman last night. These two men today (while both being very nice) made no mention about anyone throwing out any food from that case, so chances are, they didn't.
All someone did was get the freezer fixed or jiggled the cord or something...and I'm not going to feel too guilty when I call up Walmart's corporate office tomorrow. I'm also not going to feel too safe the next time I buy my next frozen "nukey meal" there.
And whether corporate will care or not is anyone's guess as I've been told a lot of unbelievable stories by Walmart workers over the years. I've always dismissed them as over-exaggeration on their part...but now I'm not too sure about that.
But one thing's for certain: When I walk into Walmart to kill some time...I certainly don't expect anything I buy to KILL me later when I get home.