*This is a work of nonfiction based on actual events as told to me by a family member who experienced them firsthand; used with permission.
When my mother worked at Walmart, she had a coworker who hated spending time with his wife. For the most part, he and his wife worked opposite shifts. When she was off from work, he was busy at his job. When he had the day off, his wife was out of the house at work. It was just the way he liked it.
This man hated when his wife took a day off that coincided with one of his scheduled days off because it meant she expected to spend the day with him. Finally, when he'd had enough of spending his day off with his wife, he devised a plan.
If he and his wife both had the same day off, he would lie and tell her he'd been called into work unexpectedly. He would dress in his janitorial uniform, pack a brown-bag lunch, and drive to Walmart where he worked.
My mother would see him walk into work carrying his lunch and a bag containing his casual clothes. She said he'd go into the employee restroom, change his clothes, and then spend a full eight-hour day walking around the store with a shopping cart.
One day, my mother asked her coworker what he was doing in the store on his day off.
"Well, my wife has the day off, too. She had a list of things she wanted us to do together. So I told her that I had to work because they were shorthanded," he said.
Why did he spend the day at his workplace instead of someplace more relaxing like the park or the local bar? His wife frequently called the store and asked to speak with him, and he couldn't risk having someone tell her that he wasn't there. Likewise, if she drove past the parking lot, she needed to see his car in the usual place, or he would be in a lot of trouble.
On one of his days off, my mother's coworker was walking around Walmart in his street clothes when his wife walked into the store to buy cleaning products for a project he had weaseled out of. His wife spotted him wearing his regular clothes instead of his janitor uniform.
"What is going on?" she asked. "Why don't you have on your work clothes?"
He told his wife that there had been a meeting with the "big wheels of Walmart," and he wanted to look good for them. "I'm going to start working now," he said. "So I'll just go change into my janitor's uniform and take my lunch break in the breakroom. I'll see you at home."
"Great," she replied. "When you get home, you can help me with some chores."
"I don't know about that," he replied. "That meeting I told you about really put me behind on my duties. I'll probably have to work late to compensate."
The man hoped his wife would be gone by the time he emerged from the break room after eating the lunch he had packed. He certainly didn't want to go home and get started on those chores she had mentioned, especially on his day off. He'd rather pretend to be working than spend the day with his wife.