*This is a work of nonfiction based on actual events as told to me by a woman who witnessed them firsthand; used with permission.
My mother witnessed many Walmart romances when she worked for the retail giant. There was one in particular that still stands out in her mind. It was so memorable because it was so heartbreaking.
A married woman fell head over heels in love with a twenty-one-year-old college student who worked at the store part-time. The young man often talked about partying and going to clubs on the weekend, and the married woman thought it sounded like fun. So she invited herself to accompany him on a Friday night after work.
Now, not only did she see the object of her affection at work and take breaks with him, but she began going to the club with him every night after work.
That was a problem because my mother's coworker and her husband shared a seven-year-old daughter, who couldn't understand why her mother was suddenly going out every night. The woman became more interested in spending time with her younger man than spending time with her young daughter.
The woman's husband was angry because he thought they had a sound and secure marriage until the other, much younger, man came along. He thought their marriage was great until he caught wind of the real reason why his wife was never at home anymore.
So one day, the woman's husband stormed into Walmart holding their seven-year-old daughter by the hand. He marched her right into the break room where his wife was holding court with her younger boyfriend.
My mother and several other coworkers were present when it happened. They saw everything.
When the woman's husband saw her sitting at a table with another man, he told her point-blank, "Let's go home, and we can forget all about this." He gestured at the other guy.
"What are you talking about?" the woman exclaimed, feigning innocence. That's when her daughter spoke.
"Mommy, don't you care about us anymore?" she asked. "Don't you care about your marriage? Don't you care about me and Daddy?" The little girl started to cry.
Instead of answering her daughter's heartbreaking questions or trying to comfort her, the woman turned to her husband. "How did you get in here?" she asked. "This room is for employees only. You don't work here. Get out."
"Come with me, or I don't want you anymore," her husband replied. "You have to choose right now. Do you choose coming home with me and your daughter or do you choose him?"
"Mommy, please," the little girl sobbed, but her mother chose her boyfriend.
The woman moved in with her boyfriend, and she barely bothered to see her daughter after that, especially after she and her new beau had a baby together.