Tuesday, June 12, 2007

All Told, I'd Rather Be in Beirut (or "Why I Hate Wal-Mart")

Tonight was actually a good night: a very restful, enjoyable night at home with the wife, free from any encumbrance or responsibility. It was actually...relaxing.

Until...

The horror set in. We were out of bread, milk, and eggs. The lifeblood of the American home was running thin in our humble domicile. How could we survive without these three integral elements that I never had on hand while I was a bachelor anyway? Suddenly the ease of relaxation was peeled away quickly and rudely, as though someone had doused us with buckets of icy water in February. You see, since we had relaxed most of the evening, we were forced to...

I can barely say it...

...GO TO WAL-MART! Oh the horror! Oh the humanity! Oh the vast herds of rednecks roaming the isles looking for generic anti-fungal creme!

I hate Wal-Mart on so many different levels. It doesn't really have anything to do with political reasons or anything of the sort. I'm not that high-minded. I realize that they pay their employees poorly, provide little to no benefits, hire illegal immigrants, put every mom and pop store they touch out of business, and basically are complete reprobates and probably Republicans. That's not really what bothers me. I've listed what DOES below. Rant ON.

(1.) I CAN'T FIND SQUAT. Once upon a time, when the Earth was still flat and people went on vacations and left their doors unlocked, Wal-Mart was laid out in a floor plan known as "The Places Where Things Are Supposed To Be." I could go into Wal-Mart during these happy carefree times on any given day at any given time and make a beeline directly to the product that I desired to procure. Entire shopping time: 10 minutes. These were the glory days. However, in the infinite wisdom of the heirs of Walton, every Wal-Mart in my somewhat fair city of Memphis has been completely re-modeled and each department has been moved to an entirely different part of the store. I don't think there's a definite pattern to where the merchandise was moved; the only rule appears to be that it must not be anywhere near the general vicinity of where it was previously. I couldn't swear to it, but I'm pretty sure some of the aisles are actually either outside or in other stores now. Some have just vanished from the face of the Earth altogether. Now it takes me an hour to find everything that I need to get.

(2.) THE LOW PRICE THING IS OVER. Wal-Mart hasn't been the cheapest stuff on the market for a while now. I remember when I was a wee lad, back in the days when gas was cheap because we were propelling our cars with our feet, way back before Al Gore invented the internet, when Wal-Mart was just starting to make it nationwide. Prices in Wal-Mart were significantly cheaper than they were in other locations. Nowadays, I can get the same price in Target, Best Buy, or any comparable merchant. I can actually order online for cheaper. (Also, the product gets to me in the mail in less time than it takes me to wait through a Wal-Mart checkout line.)

(3.) THE ANTI-THEFT SCANNERS AT THE DOORS SUCK PEOPLE'S BRAINS OUT AS THEY COME IN. Never in your life will you come across a more mindless, herd-like group of people than when you're in the magic land of Wally World. I am constantly amazed by the group of people who will walk directly down the middle of the aisle at approximately .00001 miles per hour while staring blankly at products on the shelves, as though it were the first time they were seeing a box of file folders or picture frames. It would not surprise me if they began to emit rivulets of drool and say words like "oooh, shiny!" And it never fails that I will end up standing motionless, waiting increasingly less patiently to get by, while someone stops mid-aisle with their cart parked diagonally across the aisle, so as to allow no traffic to proceed either way, while either rifling through a purse, checking a list, or just simply ceasing to have any thought processes or kinetic motion altogether. And since this is the South, and Wal-Mart is a social mecca for rednecks, it's not uncommon for two long-time friends (likely next-door neighbors, cousins, or both) to park their buggies side-by-side in a major traffic aisle and carry on conversations as though they only got to see each other on Christmas, when in fact they both pretty much left the same yard at the same time to go to Wal-Mart. These are the same people who usually have kids who are being baby-sat by the Toy Department. Speaking of...

(4.) PARENTS, BEAT YOUR KIDS, PLEASE. Oh, there's nothing like being in the store with YOU, when you bring your SCREAMING BRAT KIDS to the Wal-Mart with you. I tell you, it makes my day a whole lot better to be in the same aisle with you when your kid is pitching a fit because he/she wants something. I'm really looking at you and admiring your parenting skills when you ineffectually threaten a child who knows you're not serious, because even though you're a wretched parent, hey, at least you looked tough in front of me! Yes ma'am! Or even better, when you totally ignore the child and nervously smile at those around you while secretly wishing, as are we all, that the earth might open up and swallow your child. But seriously, parents, if you let your kid pitch a righteous fit in the middle of Wal-Mart, you should really do yourself a favor and leave the kid out in the parking lot so that he can be kidnapped and raised by someone more fit as a parent than you, such as Genghis Khan.

(4-A.) COROLLARY: DO THE BEATING BEFORE OR AFTER. Never while you're actually inside the Wal-Mart. Otherwise, see above. And yes, the parking lot wouldn't be any more appropriate, but it's better than the cereal aisle.

(5.) IF YOU HAVE 20 ITEMS OR MORE AND GET IN THE EXPRESS LANE, YOU ARE A SUB-HUMAN PIECE OF TRASH AND DESERVE TO GO TO HELL WHEN YOU DIE. I think that says it all.

(6.) HEY, HOW ABOUT LET'S LEAVE ALL THE PALLETS OF UNPACKED BOXES RIGHT IN FRONT OF THE MERCHANDISE PEOPLE WANT TO BUY! Also, why don't you guys make sure that you can't get from one side of the store to the other by blocking off every aisle but the main ones. Oh, and hey, would it be too much to ask if you wouldn't mind dragging the pallet jacks down the aisles at light speed in such a way that I can't walk past without danger of losing life and limb? That's all part of what I like to call the "Adventure of Wal-Mart," which leads up to thrills and chills in what I like to call a "personal injury lawsuit."

(7.) WAL-MART WORKERS ARE PAID NEITHER TO SMILE NOR KNOW ANYTHING RELEVANT TO THE STORE. The last time I asked a worker in the electronics department where a new CD was, I got a look that was as blank as a Bible Knowledge Quiz given to Paris Hilton. Eventually after approaching several different associates and exchanging various passive aggressive conversations, one went to the back where the box was sitting, release date be hanged. And, of course, when I finally convinced them that I had more shopping to do and didn't wish to pay for it back in electronics, which apparently may only be authorized by a ruling from Congress, I found the same demeanor up at the front cash register. The cashier regarded me with a look that I usually reserve for a person who has just said that they thought Hitler was a pretty reasonable guy. She grunted something that could've either been "hi, how are you" or "I wish you'd suck eggs and die." The little pin pad screen asked me if my cashier had been friendly today, and I think I heard it snickering a little bit under the weight of its own obvious sarcasm. After the transaction was done, and the cashier had sufficiently discarded my item into the bag with enough force to cause the case to break, she ripped it from the carousel and handed it to me as though she were handing me a dirty diaper, looking off into some direction that was opposite to where I was standing, and saying nothing. I'm almost sure that she had to go shower to rid herself of the odiousness of having to actually wait on me.

(8.) SELF CHECK-OUT MY ROSY RED FANNY. Invariably, the self-checkout monstrosity will no longer allow me to scan and start flashing its light plaintively, demanding that an actual Wal-Mart cashier come over and service it, rather than a scrub like myself. Of course, these cashiers are never around. They are invariably sitting in lawn and garden sipping lemonade or on a sailboat in the Bahamas or at some distance which allows them neither to be seen nor to see you. When they finally show up, go through customs, and get a medical release signed by their doctor allowing them to help you, they almost always approach you with a well-thought out plan of action, which unfortunately they can only communicate mono-syllabically, thus they only say "whuhhh?" I then proceed to let them know that I too was held hostage by Wal-Mart in the grocery department for a summer while I was in college, and that I do in fact know what a barcode is and how to scan it, but they are invariably unimpressed, punch in a random code (which I attempt to memorize, but which will never work again if the situation comes up.) Then the cashier stomps off in a huff, because she is friends with the cashier in Point 6, and she has told her about how you so rudely expected to be allowed to pay money in exchange for goods. The nerve, since they were clearly hired only to carry on conversations with their co-workers.

Oh yes. Also, rant number 5 applies heavily to this self check-out line, and perhaps more-so. If you are buying supplies for a major campground (like a children's camp or boot camp or anything of the sort) you should not be using this line. You should be using the firing line.

(9.) THERE ARE MORE CARTS THAN ACTUAL VEHICLES IN THE PARKING LOT. How many times have you seen a parking space up close to the store, gotten all excited about it, and prepared to whip into it, only to find a cluster of forsaken carts taking up the majority of it? If you go into a Wal-Mart parking lot around 10 or 11 PM, it sort of looks like Baghdad, the day after, doesn't it? I realize that the anti-theft scanners suck out your brain on the way in, but I'm not sure that they de-zombify everybody on the way out. Apparently the majority of Wal-Mart shoppers feel that cart receptacles are far beneath them, and that society would be better served if the landscape were littered with shopping buggies. I've often wondered if Earl Scheib had a deal brokered with Wal-Mart, with kickbacks per every hundred auto paint jobs.

ANYWAY...

I'm sure there are more reasons that I hate Wal-Mart. But I think I've established that Wal-Mart sucks. And I say that knowing that I run the very real risk of drawing traffic to this page from people googling those words. I'll just say this: when Target goes 24 hours around here, Wal-Mart won't be on my list of destinations anymore.

5 Comments:

At 2:08 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wal-Mart rules as Carrie sings "You can get anything you want here, Except a Wal-Mart store,
But I ain't in Checotah anymore."

 
At 10:10 AM, Anonymous MA said...

JD I live up here in Philly PA and the Wal*Mart experience is the same. It's not just the rednecks. The Wal Mart by me seems to have more items on the ground than on the actual shelves. I will never go to that hell hole again. So far I am 6 months Wal Mart free and counting.

 
At 10:32 AM, Anonymous Romiko said...

My son calls Wal-Mart the Flee market of America. It's a flee mess to me.

Your rant pretty much sums up how I feel about shopping, let alone going to Walmart.

If I could purchase everything on line and have it delivered, I would.

 
At 10:04 AM, Anonymous Lorraine said...

I know I'm late on this one... but as much as I hate wal-mart for it's poor layout and awful customer service, I do love the convenience of their location, and they do often have the lowest price on groceries in my area.

But I must confess. I am an occasional cart-leaver. Although in my defense, the cart returns are spaced far and few between (there is only one every 3rd row, and they are spaced sooo incredibly far apart.)

On the rare occasions when I shop alone, I always walk the 2 tenths of a mile to the closest cart return. But more often then not, I am shopping with my three kids. So my choice is, return the cart and march all three of my precious munchkins through the gauntlet of those who think 50mph is acceptable in a parking lot, the ones that think the parking lines are just a suggestion and cut across the rows to get to the exit faster, and the ones who decide to back out and screw anyone or anything that may be behind their vehicle. Or, I can put my kids safely in the car, and then park the cart on the nearest island or with another abandoned cart and hustle back to the car lest someone call the cops on me for leaving my kids in the car for the 30 seconds it took, or for my car get jacked with my kids in it.

I opt for the ditch the cart and go. But I do try to make sure I ditch it with an already existing group so it doesn't run rampant through the lot.

And my excuse doesn't excuse the two women I saw the other day who abandoned their cart - still containing their leftovers from one of the various food places in the store - directly behind another vehicle as they drove away laughing. Ugh.

 
At 12:23 PM, Anonymous disgruntled employee said...

I work at WalMart, it's totally screwed. Don't think that all of us who work at the place want to be there, you'd be really wrong. Also not all of us at WalMart are nitwits, rude or like the one you wrote about---SOME of us are poliet and helpful.
However being said, WalMart IS NOT a family oriented place anymore. I had been working a set schedule for over two years, went on vacation and upon my return, found out that I was transferred to a different time slot.
The asshole boss of my department made the remark: "You should have checked..." bla bla bla.
Needless to say, his true reasons for the transfer to a more sorry time slot was due towards his age descrimination, towards me. I am planning on filing a complaint with the area bigshits.
Don't think that we, at WalMart, are one f'n big family, we ain't and don't think we're happy, we ain't. You think YOU, the consumer gets screwed? Buck off, we're the ones, the workers, who get screwed MORE.

 

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