We Pay a Price for Wal-Mart

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SIDE STORY: Every now and then at work I will get the “People Of Wal-Mart” e-mails forwarded to me.  Even though I shouldn’t laugh, I always do…and then I read the caption and lose it even more. Sometimes multiple people in our cluster of offices will get the e-mail at the same time and I will be able to hear my boss laughing all the way down the hall and to the right in her office.
However, some of these pictures have started to get pretty outrageous. Like so outrageous that there is no way someone actually entered the store looking like that without the intention of having a friend take a picture of them so they could make the site.  Sorry, I do not believe that anyone would enter Wal-Mart to do some shopping while dressed up as a police officer on six foot stilts or that someone would walk in fully dressed up as a devil with professionally done makeup that probably took 4 hours to apply. No, I do not believe someone would come into Wal-Mart pushing a SKUNK in her cart, and no, I do not believe that Wal-Mart employees would have allowed the man on the motorized shopping cart to use it to pull his pet goat behind him. Furthermore, I don’t buy for one second that women actually believe they can go into the store with no pants on or that the lady who wore the torn HOSPITAL GOWN into Wal-Mart really did so because it was her choice of wardrobe for that day.
If pressed to guess, I would say that 60% of the photos on “People of Wal-Mart” are legit. All the others are staged. Still really funny though.  
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I admit it, I am one of those people who makes fun of Wal-Mart yet shops there weekly. I am one of those people who think it is wrong that they “force” senior citizens to greet people at the doors but yet I always take a cart from them. I am one of those people who would fight tooth and nail against a Wal-Mart moving into my neighborhood but once I lost that battle and Wal-Mart did open up shop a quarter of a mile away from my house I would probably be making daily trips to the store. I am one of those people who maintains that I would never buy one of their cheap knock off brands but yet if you look in my cupboard you will see a Great Value jar of peanut butter.  I am one of those people who say I sympathize with small businesses in their fight against this corporate giant but If I need my oil changed I am going to Wal-Mart instead of my Missoula mechanic.
When it comes to Wal-Mart, I am one big old hypocrite.
I think a lot of people are this way too, though.  Wal-Mart is a corporation that personifies everything that a bully is. They take over territory, push the little guy out of business, and go along with many questionable business practices. But we still go there.
What is ironic is that ignoring our personal convictions and our realization that Wal-Mart is a bully is just the start of what we concede whenever we step through the doors at Wally World. Basically, each time we go there we put ourselves through a long, frustrating, agonizing experience. Let me explain.
Going to Wal-Mart is usually a trip from Hell. As soon as you enter the parking lot you got to immediately be aware of all directions around you: Straight ahead you got cars coming at you with people operating them who have absolutely no business holding a drivers’ license (many of them probably don’t even have one), to your left side you got some drunk panhandling bum trying to get $0.67 from you, to your right side you got some people who look like they were taken off the set of “The Hills Have Eyes” sitting in lawn chairs trying to sell pit bull puppies, and behind you there is usually some dude who thought it would be cool to ride his four wheeler to W-M. But we still go there.
 After you navigate all of these distractions you then have to perform the task of actually parking. I have been to sporting events where over 100,000 people are in attendance and those parking lot situations are much less dire than the cluster I seem to always experience at Wal-Mart. First of all, the traffic congestion is terrible. In between the rows of parking spots, traffic goes both ways but there is never enough room for two cars to co-exist in the lane. Cars have to stop, let the other guy go by, and then go themselves. This takes up a lot of time and traffic gets backed up. There are never enough parking spots within a respectable walking distance to the store either. Do people really have nothing better to do than go to Wal-Mart? If you are lucky enough to find a decent parking spot that is not occupied by another car your joy usually turns to anger as there is either one or two shopping carts positioned in the unoccupied spot because Wal-Mart attracts very lazy people who can’t push their cart to the nearest rack or it is impossible to pull in because one of the two cars (usually both) are parked so moronically that not even the most skilled drivers would have a shot at it. I always look for the Helen Keller Valet Service that W-M has to provide to explain some of these park jobs but I must say I am still looking. So after all this heartache you have still not even entered the store yet. But we still go there.
Once you enter the store you actually enter a zoo. It is crowded, it is uncivilized, it is bush league. I had the great idea of going to Wal-Mart later at night to beat the madness but it didn’t help…it was still packed. You have to remember, the people operating the shopping carts are the same people who are operating the cars parked outside. Obviously, this makes for a survival of the fittest type scenario inside the store as people show absolutely no regard for others. Once some of these people start pushing a cart they will cut you off, bump into you, stop dead cold in the middle of the aisle, push the cart real fast and then hop on the back like a little kid, operate it so erratically that it is a guessing game of if they are going to go right or left, and/or just push it with the attitude that they have the golden cart and the aisle should just part like the Red Sea whenever they go do down it. I propose that each Wal-Mart cart comes with a breathalyzer test and an IQ test. In order to operate a cart you must pass both…I have not figured out which one would need to be administered first. Whenever you go into a Wal-Mart store you definitely run the risk of suffering serious injury and/or death as the result of a cart running into you. But we still go there.
When it is time to check out I literally want to check out. I have seen every single check out line open and there are still lines that seem to be a mile long. Pretty much you are going to be standing in line for a while and that pretty much means you are going to overhear some conversations you probably did not want to overhear. It gets very annoying. A Wal-Mart line is not a normal grocery store/drug store/retail store line. When you are in a Wal-Mart line you are going to witness a myriad of scenarios that take place, each one taking way longer than any normal transaction should. You have the food stamp people, you have the coupon people, you have the gift card people, you have the “I am going to pay my $30 total in all change” people, you have the group of three who are all going to “chip in a little” people, and you have the people who will go through and use a combination of three or four of these methods I just outlined. You know what my absolute biggest pet peeve about lines at Wal-Mart is though? People who are too dumb to count. I always use the express line but I might as well just use any of the check out lines because people blatantly ignore the 10 item limit, 20 item limit, etc. It is flat out ridiculous. If you have a cart full of crap, please refrain from using the express lane. I feel Wal-Mart should have a digital counter for everyone in line to see. It would count each item the shopper is purchasing as it is scanned. The minute the shopper goes over the limit, lights flash and store security comes out and ushers the violator away to a holding cell where they have to wait a full hour until they are able to purchase their items in the appropriate line. Please Wal-Mart shoppers, use some consideration and common sense. We give away way too much time waiting in W-M check out lines. But we still go there.
Are we forced to go to a store that is a well-established bully while putting ourselves through driving risks, parking horrors, shopping hysteria, check out line madness, and many other inconveniences that I neglected to mention because of the length of this post? No. But we still go there.
Of course the reason why most people (myself included) go to Wal-Mart is because it is cheap and convenient. Prices are considerably less than other stores and it serves as a one-stop destination in many cases. Still, I am amazed at what myself and others put up with in order to save a few bucks and maybe a trip or two. I guess what I am interested in is at what point do people forgo the cheap and convenient options that Wal-Mart offers and go elsewhere? I know what the answer is for me: I will not set foot in Wal-Mart if I am in a bad mood, if it is near the holidays, if I don’t want to drive too far (I live further away from Wal-Mart than other stores), or if I just want a quiet shopping experience. However, if I had a bigger backbone and stood up more for what I believe in then I would not set foot in Wal-Mart period. Until I grow that bigger backbone though it looks like you will still find me at Wal-Mart on Sunday evenings buying peanut butter. Don’t Blink.