Sunday, May 07, 2006

Sam Walton's revenge.

This is a rant that started a couple weeks ago while I was up in Augusta GA... I haven't had the time up until now to trot it out and polish it up. It finally floated to the top of the cesspool that I call a hard drive, so I have shined it up and now I present it to you, Constant Reader, in hopes of entertaining and educating you.

Sam Walton's revenge.

I think someone or something in middle-to-poverty class America did something to piss off Sam Walton.

I hate Wal-Mart. I hate their business practices. I hate shopping there. I hate that they are always open and so convenient. I hate that they really do have Everyday Low Prices. I hate the fact that if you drive 3 miles in any direction you will come across a Wal-Mart, Super Wal-Mart, or Sam's Club...
And I really hate the fact that they are trying to open yet ANOTHER one, this time right here at Jax Beach.

Don't we have enough of these places yet? Haven't they driven enough small business owners to bankrupcy or insanity by trying to compete for the American Retail Dollar? They are the retail equivalent of immigrant labor- so cheap and plentiful that American businesses can't compete in the same market.

Unfortunately, my travel schedule and equipment needs have forced me to visit literally hundreds of Wal-Marts across this great country. I’ve seen rural, urban, and suburban stores in everything from wealthy to dirt-poor neighborhoods. One of my favorites was in a small Tennessee town where the only restaurant was at Wal-Mart. So every night I would get to eat dinner from their deli.
Another favorite was the one in a wealthy Phoenix neighborhood where a bunch of ‘cool’ white boys would always hang out in the parking lot wearing their G-Unit clothing calling each other 'nigga'. I even had the opportunity to visit the Everyday Low Price purveyor outside of the United States. Actually, Mexico was the nicest, bathroom attendants and all. However, one thing remains the same; if I must go I try to do it during the daylight hours. I dread having to go there after dark and will usually avoid it at all cost, but every now and then something comes up that forces me to do this.

So here I am again, almost midnight on a Wednesday night April in Augusta Ga, this time for office supplies. Lucky me, at this store the office supply department is located in the far back end of the store. The fun begins before even setting foot in the building. The parking lot is kind of a teaser. It primes you for the real nightmare within. Of course, there is nowhere to park. This gives me plenty of time to enjoy the pregame show as I walk the five blocks to the front door.

Oh, look at the cute little baby walking around (alone) in the parking lot with nothing but a diaper on. Look at this nightmare on my left, she’s pushing fifteen and only has two kids; her biological clock must be screaming! Wow, look at that hotty sporting the Prada jacket and the fake tits. Sure, her son looks like a Garbage Pail Kid with the classic dirt ring around the mouth, but she ain’t gonna find no daddy for that baby if she ain’t looking fine.

Look, there’s Skeeter and Bubba doing a brake job on a classic ‘86 Ford Tempo here in the parking lot. Over there, see the kid riding a bike with the pacifier in her mouth.
Wow, look, what a cool dad, sitting in his Escalade with the windows up smoking a joint in front of his fifteen kids. Check it out, he’s even letting them watch porn on the 12 flip-down LCDs. They might not get enough sleep tonight, but they are having fun, and that’s what matters, baby: Quality time with the family.
I finally make it to the door. In this neighborhood I know better than to expect grandpa welcoming me- oh no, instead there is Juanita shooting dirty looks and mumbling in Spanish. Upon entering, one thing (other than the rancid smell) jumps out at me. Let’s say that if in the average Anywhere USA town, the ratio of normal to ugly people is 10:1. I’m even using the word ‘normal’ conservatively. I don’t know what it is, but if you want to see more uglies in three minutes than in an entire year in the normal world, stop by. As the night moves on, the ratio rises exponentially. It’s like living in an "Outer Limits" episode.
The time slot from Midnight to six AM is called the Graveyard Shift for a reason... That's when the Zombies and the other Undead come out to walk the aisles.

Playing tonight.. The Freaks of Nature.
Once inside I’m reminded of one of those freak shows at the state fair, where you pay a quarter and walk from booth to booth and stare at the oddities of nature. Step right this way, you will see a child snatched off the ground by his arm. He will be beaten within an inch of his life after not heeding his mother’s warning that she would ‘go upside his head’ if he didn’t put that bag of candy down.
While passing the drink coolers, notice the young urban males drinking grape soda to quench their severe cottonmouth.
Try to make your way quietly through the Sporting Goods & Auto Supply aisles. You may catch a glimpse of an authentic mullet-wearing redneck stocking up on ammo and fishing lures for the Klan retreat next weekend. While there you may have the opportunity to eavesdrop on a heated argument over who will win this week’s NASCAR race.
As you walk through the Shoe department it is surprisingly quiet. It just so happens that they don’t sell many shoes in this store (big surprise).

Office Supplies are located next to the Pet department; the journey is half over. Try to avoid the cat lady who has three carts filled with cat food and kitty litter. She is covered in cat hair and smells like piss after a day of being sprayed by her fully intact male cats. On top of that she is very lonely, making for a very scary combination.

Finally the checkout line! Now, there’s no secret how Wal-Mart keeps those Everyday Low Prices rolling. I have read numerous case studies about the logistical magic they have created, and how they can buy such enormous quantities that they get larger discounts. While this all plays a part, I think their biggest secret is to keep the store open, but let all of the employees go home after 9:00PM. Apparently the invention of the self-checkout line made this possible.

It's around 12:30 AM and there are two human cashiers and about 750 people waiting in line. I figured I would hit the self-checkout to get out before daybreak.
Coming to this store was a bad idea of epic proportions. Trying to use the self-checkout is compounding my error. My mind keeps trying to analyze the suation as I watch these Darwin Award rejects try to operate the Self Checkout. The use of the self checkout register is usually reserved for those technically savvy customers with a few items that want to get out quickly.
Heh. Right.
It’s kind of an unwritten law that if you cannot operate an ATM or drive a car, do not attempt to self-checkout. The invention of the scanner and touch screen proved to be too complex for 98% of the people in line. Lucky for me, I got stuck behind a woman who for some reason needed to purchase 37 shower curtain liners, 14 bottles of baby oil, a case of shaving cream and an executive office chair; Listen to Uncle Jay, I'm not kidding. There is some screwed-up shit that goes down in this world that I don’t even want to know about. I’m forced to sit there and watch her little Vienna sausage fingers scan each of her items individually and try to think about something other than what she may do with it all when she gets home.

Finally back outside, I walk the five blocks past the same crowd (because I think they never go home) and into the serenity of my Blue Toaster. Thank God. Sam must be looking up and laughing at me, enjoying his revenge.
I say to myself I will never do that again, but somehow, just like a promise to never drink after a class 3 hangover, I know it cannot last.

Amazing out.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I think you should paint one of these on the hood of the toaster.