Monday, August 17, 2009

Wal-Mart: A Snapshot of America

Here in Springfield, Missouri there are several fine Wal-Mart locations to choose from when you just have to get toilet paper, gourmet guinea pig feed, and a small paring knife at 2:30 in the morning. I happen to live directly between two of Sam Walton's bullshit emporiums, meaning that I have a wealth of options at my fingertips every day and every night. While this may seem like a luxury, both Wal-Mart locales in close proximity to me have their distinct drawbacks. First, we have the Wal-Mart on West Bypass and Sunshine, which probably has the most depleted inventory of any Wal-Mart I've ever been to and happens to be directly across from two buildings marked "X-Spot" and "Bakery" respectively. This combination of facts makes the Bypass Wal-Mart nothing more than a last resort. The other murderer of small business near me is located at Kearney and I-44 and suffers from having a terribly small Redbox DVD selection and a greeter who always wants to see my fucking receipt even if I'm carrying 18 bags and have stashed my proof of purchase away safely in my wallet between three one dollar bills and my Ozark Fitness membership card from 1999.

What does this mean for me and my Wal-Mart selection? A lot of times my fiancee and I end up heading to the Glenstone and Kearney location, a magnificent venue complete with newly finished floors and a surprisingly large entertainment section. The story I am about to tell happened at said location on a hectic Sunday afternoon. Let me set the scene for you. I've already told you it's Sunday afternoon, so you can assume that there are roughly 120-150 octagenerian couples roaming the aisles in search of dietary regulators and Sunday papers (the neighbor kids stole the one that would've been delivered to them, leaving them couponless). You can also assume that there are plenty of churchy folk who have just finished praying and singing and whatnot and are ready to fucking buy some shit. None of the people I've just generalized figure prominently in this story, but a third demographic does. Which demographic are you referring to, Brian? Hungover single mothers in their mid-30s who have ugly children with self-inflicted bowl cuts, of course!

So Kimmy and I are standing in this express checkout line and we're on deck. There's one guy in front of us and he is swiping his credit card as we speak, meaning we're about to check out and then be on our way home. Wal-Mart is packed as all hell right now, so we're in a very enviable position. Directly behind us is a woman around age 35, her bangs twirling in all directions. She's wearing an odd-fitting striped shirt and some sort of baggy jean shorts. I'm fairly certain there's something wrong with her eyes. We'll call her Tina. Right beside Tina is her eight or nine year-old son, a skinny little bastard who is clinging to their full shopping cart with his grimy left hand and holding a WWE hat in his right. You don't need me to tell you he doesn't have any sleeves. We'll name him Cody, because that just has to be his fucking name.

The express lane to the left of us opens up, and the cashier calls out to everyone that she can help the next person over there. Seeing as how the guy in front of us is paying already, there's no reason for us to line jump. That would just be greedy. We've already ascended this far in the pecking order, why crush someone else's opportunity to get out of this hell a few minutes sooner? Because I'm the nicest person in the whole world, I turn to Tina and smile, politely offering for her to go ahead and take her rightful position as the first person in line at the register to our left since we were getting ready to pay anyway. After all, we had the right of way, so it's pretty much our duty to bestow the open position in the newly formed line to the party behind us should we choose to refuse it. Tina looks at me and responds with, "That's okay," and then proceeds to move her cart and her dirty child into the eighth spot in the line to the right of us.

What. The. FUCK!

So here were Tina's three choices:
1) Remain third in line in her current checkout lane
2) Move to the checkout lane to the left and become first in line
3) Move to the checkout lane to the right and instantly become eighth in line and waste 15 more minutes of a life that has already obviously been comprised of mostly wasted minutes

I'll never know why Tina picked door number three, but what I do know is that I'm done being surprised by the logic and utter disregard for physical or intellectual appearance that Wal-Mart occupants often display. I wanted to follow her into the line she chose and explain to her thoroughly why she would have been better off doing literally anything other than what she did. She could have started screaming Journey lyrics and gorilla tossing items from her cart into nearby aisles and I think I would have respected her decision-making skills more. I mean, seriously. How hard is it? It's like a math professor walked up to her and asked her a quick multiple choice question: Which number is the lowest, Tina? One, three, or eight? And then she picked eight.

Fuck it. I'm going to bed. My face hurts.

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