Wal-Mart: A Personal Revelation
I am submitting this to the school newspaper.
I didn’t grow up with a Wal-Mart in my hometown. In fact, I think the closest one was an hour and 15 minutes away. When my family went grocery shopping, it was at Safeway, Albertson’s, QFC, or TOP Foods. For all other products, we’d venture to Fred Meyer, Costco, or the mall. These had always met our needs.
While visiting a friend when I was 19 years old, I made my first trip to Wal-Mart and thought nothing of it. Just another place to buy stuff, I figured. I am 21 now and in the last year, I have become more familiar with Wal-Mart and “Wal-Martian society”, as I like to refer to them.
For those who have always had Wal-Mart and shopped there the majority of their lives, living without one is unbearable. Unimaginable even. Some are so acclimated to the Wal-Mart shopping experience that they are completely unaware of how ridiculous the whole process is. Take it from me, an outsider—a Northerner, a Yankee, whatever you decide my problem is—and consider the following truths.
Wal-Mart parking lots are typically the size of a small neighborhood, but rarely more than half occupied. All those perfectly unused spaces are disregarded and forgotten for that “good spot” near the entrance—that one space that will eventually become available—which only one of many cars will be lucky enough to snatch! Yes! Because God forbid they walk more than ten yards to get through the sliding doors!
But that’s nothing compared to the experience inside. If you thought the cluster of cars outside was rough, the crowds of people inside will make your head spin. Don’t expect to be “in and out” in a flash just because you only came to buy toilet paper and a new toothbrush. Just forget it. The isle ways are jam-packed with carts, people and children. When you finally do obtain what you came for and turn to leave, the row of 20 registers only have three employees assigned to them and the rest are vacant. Ten items or less? It’s the longest line of all. Self-service? Half of those are broken. Just pick a line and wait. Eventually, you’ll manage to exit—get out, escape, flee!—and you, your toilet paper and toothbrush can finally go home.
Face it. Going to Wal-Mart is miserable and depressing. This is why I haven’t been there in five months. That’s right. Five whole months. Because I realized that saving a little money by shopping at Wal-Mart doesn’t make it worth it in the long run. Whenever I left Wal-Mart, I would feel agitated and relieved to be leaving. It became worth the extra few dollars to buy what I need elsewhere and walk away without asking why I bothered going in the first place. These other stores are timely, efficient, and pleasant—attributes I can’t associate with Wal-Mart.
Recently, a documentary film titled “Wal-Mart: the High Cost of Low Price” was released in selected theaters, supposedly revealing many of Wal-Mart’s inner workings and objectives. In other news, certain religious groups are protesting Wal-Mart for its recent extraction of the word “Christmas” from much of its products. Despite this related information, it’s not because of it that I haven’t been to Wal-Mart or won’t go there anymore. It is more on the basis of preference rather than politics. It is not my intention to convert people into anti-Wal-Mart shoppers. It is, however, my goal to describe my perspective, in case you hadn’t heard or read it before.
If I had to imagine your reaction to all this, I’d guess it was similar to the reaction of a family friend when I told her I hadn’t been to Wal-Mart in many months.
She gasped, saying, “Carly, that’s a sin!” but she paused, reconsidered, and smiled. “I wish I could do the same.”