Reflections On A Visit To Walmart
I was in need of shower curtain rings today and gambled on Walmart being the simplest solution. Trust me when I tell you I would have gladly bought them from Dell Griffith if that had been an option.
It’s been a while since I’ve walked through those doors and been greeted by some poor soul who will never get to enjoy retirement. I’m not sure what my worse fear is, that I should someday share their fate or that someday my other options will vanish and I will be forced to shop at Walmart for my daily necessities.
For all its flaws, Walmart does not have the casino floor layout some stores have that leave you wandering endlessly either searching for what you came in for or searching for the exit. I found the shower curtain rings rather quickly and thought I might make short work of this task.
Until, of course, I reached the checkouts. Of the potential 17 checkouts, 2 were open. Self-checkout was an option but I am cursed with a stubbornness that won’t allow me to follow the path of least resistance. I figure someday this trait might pay off, but as yet it’s only made my life more difficult.
While standing four deep in line, I pass the time staring at the gauntlet of impulse purchases every parent is forced to walk their children past. I cannot help thinking there is a direct connection between the oversized candy bars and the inordinate percentage of oversized people riding around the store in scooters.
I scan the many options and am amazed at the variety corporate capitalism provides for us: Snicker’s flavored Twix Bars, Twix flavored Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, and Peanut Butter Cup flavored Hershey Bars. You can now get a mint flavored or strawberry flavored Kit Kat, in Fun Size, Bite Size, Regular Size, Family Size, or Small Village Size. The human eye has an innate impulse to seek out the bright colors of fruit in the woods, and it is this impulse that is being exploited by the brightly-colored wrappers used to lure kids to consume corn syrup with a smattering of cocoa.
There was a time I can remember when cashiers were professionals who had appreciable skill in ringing up and bagging groceries. Now is not that time and Walmart was never that place. The same somnambulism that seems to affect all Walmart shoppers to varying degrees has hit my cashier in spades. If one ever wishes to get the full surround experience of watching a zombie movie, it is suggested that one do so here.
Every complication a cashier could possibly expect to encounter happens to “Becky”. Having already scanned the candy displays, I’m forced to scan the tabloid headlines, all of which are relating some damn problem a celebrity I’ve never heard of is having or has overcome or is in therapy for.
The lady at the front of the line is buying a shrink-wrapped case of plastic water bottles. “Becky” asks her if she’d like them in a plastic bag. The customer replies “yes” as she pulls out a piece of plastic on which she will be paying a monthly payment for the rest of her life. She also buys an oversized bag of Skittles for her granddaughter.
Yoga pants and adult diapers do not go together. The woman in front of me has made this observation inescapable for the last 10 minutes. Lest you ask in the future why I now know so much about Johnny Depp and Amber Heard, it is because my gaze had to be diverted SOMEWHERE.
It is my turn now with “Becky”. She is trying very hard to shove my shower curtain rings into a plastic bag but I tell her it is not necessary. She looks at me uncomprehendingly, as if whatever macro that’s been used to dictate her behavior does not have an answer for such a situation. I try to explain to her about how there’s a plastic island in the Pacific and I have no desire to add to it, but she looks at me suspiciously, as if I were wearing a pin with the image of Joseph Stalin on it. There is something decidedly un-American about not accepting a plastic bag. It gums up the whole system.
I leave and get into my car and start to drive, but for a while I am still in the Walmart neighborhood of chain restaurants, Verizon stores, and Walgreens. I at last make my way from that area of my town that is indistinguishable from such an area in any other town, an area that was farmland or forest not too long ago.
I vow once again never to return there, but already I am dreading the day years from now when I might need to buy a new printer cartridge or USB cable.