Today is just one of those days where I could really use a do-over. Yuck. What could possibly console me? Ah, I know. A little Wal-Mart bashing always puts me right back in a good mood.
My friend Kristi posted yesterday about not having a problem with Wal-Mart. Well, I don't have a problem with other people going to Wal-Mart. I just don't want to go there myself. I started a comment on her post that was getting so out of hand that I just quit and decided my two cents needed it's own post.
You see, my gripes about Wal-Mart are not what you probably think. I don't care if some people think they're borderline monopolistic. That's what you get for living in a small town. I don't care if they coerce suppliers into giving up their first-born children. I'm all about capitalism. I don't care if they run sweat shops. Crack that whip if you must, Wal-Mart. (Of course this is all easy for me to say since I have no part in it...) No, my real problem with Wal-Mart is much more superficial. I just hate being in Wal-Mart. I couldn't care less about all the high-minded objections to Wal-Mart out there based on actual meaningful ethical stances. As for me, I guess I'm just snooty.
You see, I used to go to Wal-Mart. I mean, I do love to get a good deal, so I should always check there, right? But I kept coming home miserable and telling M that I just HATED going to Wal-Mart and NEVER found what I went for. He accused me of being a melodramatic snob. (But not in so many words, he's much too nice for that.) So I kept trying. I kept trying them as an alternative for sewing supplies that was closer than the fabric store, but they never had what I needed. I kept trying them for kids' shoes, but they never had anything that fit Claire's fat toddler feet. Lots of trying with little to no success. Over the course of about 4 years I determined that I had only really found something I was pleased with when I went to Wal-Mart for sporting goods (READ: guns and ammuntion) and automotive supplies. And then they stopped carrying the AC Delco oil filters I wanted. I associate Wal-Mart trips with misery, disappointment, and wasted time. Let me tell you about a few of my choice experiences.
Once I went to Wal-Mart looking at window unit air conditioners. The older gentleman that "helped" me could not tell me which unit went with which price tag on the shelf. He could not tell me if they normally carried a unit with a certain number of BTU's in stock. He could not tell me if they would get any more in, let alone when. Basically I was left looking at random boxes and having no idea how much anything cost and wondering if the half empty shelves would ever be replenished.
Another time I went to Wal-Mart looking for an ironing board cover. I did eventually find one, but they all had hideous designs on them. Cats with baskets of ivy and big floral prints that looked like cheap motel bedding. The compromise of my style was not worth the 11 cents I was going to save.
Once I went to Wal-Mart looking for a ride-on toy for my daughter. The one I wanted (the one without obnoxious TV characters my kids had never heard of and that didn't play brain lacerating sounds at top volume if you looked at it wrong) was almost sold out except for one way up on a very high top shelf. I'm tall, but not that tall, so I had to ask someone to help me. I looked and looked but the only Wal-Mart employee I could find only had one arm. Now I think it's great that Wal-Mart employs people with disabilities and I'm not blaming this woman and so on and so forth with the politically correct stuff. It's not her fault there weren't any other employess around, but in the end I had to wait around for her to slowly conclude that no other employees were available, then awkwardly carry a ladder over. Then she climbed to the top of the ladder and had to figure out how to carry this fairly large ride-on toy down the ladder with her only hand. Suffice it to say that it took a long time and I was tormented by images of this woman toppling from her precarious perch to her death. With the toy I needed clutched in her arm. That would have been a real dampener on my toy purchase plans. I mean, I wouldn't exactly have been able to pull the toy out of her grip and make a run for the check out without a) feeling really guilty that I was giving my daughter a toy bought with a human life and b) undergoing extensive questioning and possibly mental health evaluation when the police caught up with me. So yah, Wal-Mart didn't really leave a good impression that day when they left that poor woman as the only available employee.
One time I went to Wal-Mart looking for a prepaid wireless phone card. I talked to the employee in the Electronics department. HE DIDN'T KNOW WHERE THEY WERE! Even in his own department??? After wandering around for quite awhile, he asked another employee who found them around the corner from the electronics department desk. Maybe this time the guy who helped me was blind...
The last time we went to Wal-Mart was when M and I were looking for a forward facing car seat/booster seat for Claire. I was not terribly thrilled because Scott had outgrown his infant car seat at 4 months old and it was time to play musical car seats. So we really didn't want to spend much money. Wal-Mart to the rescue?!?!? Maybe? We tried to do our research online, but you see, there used to be this other problem with Wal-Mart. The products on their website frequently had NOTHING to do with what they carried in-store. They have since remedied that, but too little too late. Anyway, as we were trying to come to grips with the hideous prints (okay, strike "we," maybe only I cared) on all the options that were "good deals," it happened. We had to move a package of fresh sausage off of the one the boxes so we could look at the specs of the car seat within. I'm talking about the kind of sausage that should be kept refrigerated. The kind you buy in the meat displays with a thin plastic film over it's now rotting contents. That was the last straw. M finally agreed with me and we stopped going to Wal-Mart after that.
So there you have it. I just stopped going.
I've had enough of TV's blaring the obnoxious "Wal-Mart channel."
I've had enough of coming home empty handed or worse yet, wondering if I'd just bought a special "crappy Wal-Mart version" of a name brand I trusted that was going to fall apart the next time I looked at it. I mean, it's not like you can actually compare apples to apples since the items they sell at Wal-Mart frequently aren't sold anywhere else. Do you really think that Sony CD player that only Wal-Mart sells and that just so happens to be five bucks cheaper than any other Sony CD player you've ever seen is really the same quality? If the Sony CD players aren't the same, and the Levi jeans aren't the same, maybe the tube of Colgate toothpaste isn't the same too. I can't trust any of it anymore. Go ahead and take the blue pill if you want.
I've had enough of helping to pay the salary of the old lady at the front whose sole purpose seems to be prepping and distributing shopping carts and slapping yellow smiley face stickers all over everyone under 4 feet tall who comes in the door. ("I can pick my own, non-wobbly wheeled cart, thankyouverymuch. And Claire, take that sticker off or someone might know we've been here...")
Now so far I've mostly addressed the non-food side of Wal-Mart. I know a lot of you out there grocery shop there too. I don't because white people food is such an insignificant part of our menu. I have enough trouble finding all the ingredients I need at a store dedicated to selling you food. Do you really think I have any luck at Wal-Mart? That being said, there is one thing (besides ammo) that we go to Wal-Mart for. When we make a quick run for ice cream, Wal-Mart is the place to go. Excellent selection of fattening packaged foods... I'll resist the obvious jab here.
You Wal-Mart grocery shoppers must be the people that say Target is expensive. Because, yes, Target has ridiculously overpriced food. But for everything else it usually goes something like this: Target = $3.99 Wal-Mart = $3.88 And the Target one might actually be kinda pretty to look at. If those 11 cents are really going to make or break you, you probably shouldn't buy the four dollar piece of junk anyway. And if you really need that item? Personally, my dignity is worth 11 cents. Not to mention all the 11 cent savings it takes to repair that ding in my car door from it's stint in the Wal-Mart parking lot.
So after quitting cold turkey, I thought I would be plagued by visions of all the money I wasn't saving. I mean, I'm such an obsessive cheapskate at heart. But it turns out I'm just happier instead.
We can all theorize about what the root of the problem is. Maybe the store is to blame. Or maybe it's the people who shop there. But does it really matter? All that matters is that I feel out of place in Wal-mart. I know, I know. It's because I'm stuck up right? Well, if you want to be a "shopper without borders" and brave the disorganization, useless sales associates, and rotting sausage, be my guest. I won't stop you.
In fact, you won't even have to worry about getting hit by my car when I'm passing through the the parking lot and you jump out in front of passing cars without looking as if leaving Wal-mart with your haul of cheesy junk gives you the right to stop ALL traffic in both directions FOREVER and the power to suspend the laws of physics that say I may not be able to stop in time...
Breathe, G, breathe...
Did I mention that we don't even drive through the Wal-Mart parking lot anymore? It takes fewer years off my life to take the long way around.