Wednesday, June 10, 2009

The Dreaded Wal-Mart

Today I had to go to the dreaded Wal-Mart. I say “dreaded” because I hate that place. It’s a half day project and I don’t like to leave the farm period. Double that if it’s not horse related. I might leave if somebody says, “Hey, come and see my old farmhouse. It’s got bead-board walls and a claw-foot tub.” I might be excited to leave for that, especially if there’s a chance they’ll unload something old on me, perhaps a dusty old dresser they have no use for or even an old picture in a chipped and cracked gesso frame they think is ugly. Or I might leave for, let’s see…okay, I might be easily persuaded to go to a bake sale. If it’s not too far. Like say the firehouse was having something. I’d go down there. I’d be on the lookout for a pecan pie. You wouldn’t find any cheesecake. They’re not into that down here. That’s okay. I make my own. Three different kinds: New York style cheesecake, amaretto cheesecake and cream cheese pie. Kurt says I ought to sell my cheesecakes. That and my sauce. He says I can cater to the people from up north who can’t get good cheesecake and real Italian spaghetti sauce down here.

At any rate, I’d leave for a bake sale but I wouldn’t be happy about leaving for a candle sale, even though I like candles. Or a Christmas-in-July sale. Or a grand opening sale for a tire-and-auto parts store. It just wouldn’t be worth splitting for that when I know full well that when I get back a few hours later, the grass will have grown another foot and the horses will have dropped another ton of horse manure. Things pile up on the farm when you’re not home.

Sometimes you have no choice. Like when you are out of toilet paper, cat food and Blue Bunny Peanut Butter Panic ice cream. I mean, there’s no putting it off at that point. Plus I needed new socks again because they don’t make socks like they used to and about a month into it, you can’t keep them up anymore, no matter how careful you were about not stretching them out. Might as well think of them as disposable socks nowadays. So I had to go.

Like I said, it’s a half day project. It takes forty-five minutes to get there. That’s an hour-and-a-half in travel time alone. Then I talk to everyone. I can’t help it. Yankee or no Yankee, I am friendly. I like people. Especially the regulars, like the kind you find in Wal-Mart. I often want to stop and chat with the Wal-Mart greeter but they’re paranoid about having that job. There are so many jokes about Wal-Mart greeters that after they say, “Hi, welcome to Wal-Mart,” they just want you to not look at them and keep on going and don’t tell anybody you saw them there.

Don’t laugh but I’d love to have that job. I’d be wiping off carts, sanitizing handles (I’m a clean freak) and yakking my head off to whoever comes in. Say some old guy comes in to pick up his prescription. If he is wearing overalls, I might engage him in some conversation about the cutting of hay and the weather—how we’re all at its mercy and when is this rain ever going to stop? Or say a redneck guy comes in for a case of Mountain Dew. I might mention the NASCAR race. Like, “How about that wreck the other day?” If I had any idea. I’d have to keep up on those things if I was a Wal-Mart greeter.

I’ll tell you what makes me mad about those greeters. How come they don’t have a chair to sit on? They’re standing there all day long and what?—they can’t sit down for a minute? And most of them are old. That’s why I couldn’t have that job and I’m not even old. I’m one tough cowgirl out there pushing wheelbarrows full of horse manure and unloading grain, pulling weeds, pulling half-buried junk out of the mud in the dump that surfaces after it rains looking for something good. I mean, I have dents in my arms that define the muscle. I’ve got Michelle Obama arms. And strong legs like bull. And I wouldn’t be able to stand there all day long and not sit down for five minutes. I’m tough but my back would be killing me!

Anyway, the other reason I hate going to that place is because of the color. It is grey. It is dreary. It is the color of wet cement. It about makes you want to suck on an exhaust pipe if the conditions are right, like say you are due for your period. There are no windows. Where are the windows? You know, in the old days you’d go into a supermarket or a department store and hit songs would be playing (that’s what they called them back then—hits) but only the instrumentals, not the words: “Love is Blue,” “Close to You;” very soothing. There were big plate glass windows up front and you could look outside and see smiling ladies pushing shopping carts with little kids skipping beside them because no one dreaded going inside. They were in for a sunshiny shopping experience. They had a list that included cheerful groceries like Chex, Kool-Aid, Nestle’s Quik, a rump roast. Not a plain old roast. A rump roast. Whatever that is. A pineapple upside-down cake, peas-and-carrots, Jiffy Pop popcorn, St. Joseph’s Aspirin for Children and the ingredients for fondue. Perhaps they would pick up a Ladies’ Home Journal on the way out and the children would ride the mechanical horse up front in the bright sunshine that spilled in the windows and turned everything golden.

But the way Wal-Mart is today… I don’t know if they want you to actually forget there is an outside but when you’re in there, you might as well be in a cave. Maybe they don’t want the workers to see what they’re missing and make a run for the parking lot. There isn’t even any good music playing. I can’t get in and out of there fast enough. I often fill two carts since I put off going till I’m out of everything because I hate it so much. It takes forever. I have a lot to get, and in their defense, they usually have everything I need.

Except for American-made products. Like one time I was on a mission and decided, that’s it. I’m not buying Kurt a belt unless it’s made in America. I must have been making good time that day. Usually I just throw everything in the cart. I don’t care if I squash the bread or crack the eggs. I’ve got to get out of there! But I took out the glasses and looked for the tiny stamp on the underside of the belts. Made in China. Made in Pakistan. Made in Indonesia. Kelly and I went through every single belt on that rack. We were knee-deep in coils of leather like snakes around our legs and nope, not one American-made belt. That bothers me.

Looking on the bright side, I would probably spend more money if it wasn’t so dreary in there. But who has time to pick up a new toilet seat or a Swiffer WetJet Starter Kit on sale for sixteen-fifty when you’re rushing like a mad woman to get away from all that grey gloom? I did manage to grab a few cheerful groceries when I was in there today. Cream cheese, sour cream, graham cracker crumbs. I think I deserve a nice New York style cheesecake after going to Wally World. With cherries on top. I have no idea what I’m going to do with the rump roast.

(Check out for another reason not to go to Wal-Mart.)


Going Crunchy said...

Oooo - so giggling.

I remember going the Piggly Wiggly with my Granny and just lovin' it. We also had Mr. Milwee that was a grocer on wheels that drove around the neighborhood. I used to love to see him!

The greeters but me too - bless their heart. Seems like you could give them a barstool or something.

I guess the 'culture' bothers me too. The store where people trampled a man to death and continued to shop - and bitched as they walked over his dying body. That to me is just a final straw - and it isn't just about the store - but about the shopping aspect of it

O.k., hopping off my podium now. And I hear ya about the socks!

Tammy said...

OMG -- too funny! And soooo right! Wal-Mart has become a necessary evil.

Gilly said...

I was fascinated by your Wal-Mart etc blog!! For a start you buy things I have never heard of and don't know what they are!! Chex?? Amaretto cheesecake??

And greeters? We just grab a trolly and walk in to Tesco's. Nice colours, bit chilly in the cool section, and choose the right day not too many people there. I usually have mine delivered, but every so often I struggle down and get round, buying fresh fish and other things they won't deliver except in pre-packs which I hate.

And then I just walk out, load the car, come home and put the kiettle on for a coffee!!

I did hear Wal-Mart are coming to England. Will make sure I never go there!

Debi Kelly Van Cleave said...

Gilly, well, like Tammy said, it's a necessary evil. You'll hate it and you'll love it. The reason why I go there is because they DO have the cheapest prices plus they have everything and so when time is short, I'm not running around to all different stores. If I had more time and money I'd go elsewhere. But who does these days? A necessary evil.

Sweet Virginia Breeze said...

I was glad when a Wal Mart came to our county. They have almost everything you need under one roof and the prices can't be beat. Before their arrival we would have to go 30 to 50 miles to get something as simple as a spool of thread. Wal Mart has it's faults, but it also fills a need.

Jamie Ferraioli said...

You're too funny. You're totally right about it feeling like a cave! You can only imagine how the poor employees feel. Stuck in that "cave" for 8+ hours. No sign of sun or civilization except on your break if you're lucky. No wonder every employee I've ever run into at a walmart looks depressed or angry. On the same subject of it being sad that the greeters at walmart don't have seats, there was a similiar situation when I was working at Eckerd. There was an older woman I worked with that ran the register during the day. Her legs would get tired and she'd ask for a seat but the manager wouldn't let her have one. So she'd have to stand for 8 hours, even when there was no one to ring up...because that was corporate seats behind the register. I amazes me sometimes how much companys don't care about their employees.

CountryDew said...

Walmart institutionalized shopping, is what it did. Took the life right out of it. Turned us all into slaves of the next cool thing.

But it's a lot cheaper than any other store and that's where they got you. They know you can't afford to shop at Ukrops every day.

Claudia said...

Deb, we call it....
Bob and I go together...almost every Sunday...we try to beat the church-goers...Our relegious experience, you might say...
We get 2 carts...split up the list, get the prescriptions and the 'stuff' we gotta have..him the heavy items, me the produce,etc...and zip through the store..I hadn't even noticed the color!!!

sweetflutterbys3 said...

Oh, I love Wal-Mart. The cheap prices and having one of everything is great. I hate the store building though. Gosh, I wish they would smack who ever decided they need to make Wal-mart look like a cement box. It even echoes in certain areas. It reminds me bit of a jail with all that concrete! said...

Great post! I want some amaretto cheesecake!

Wal Mart. My least favorite place to go. Would rather clean out manure 50 days in a row than endure WalMart. But the toilet paper is so darn convenient.

Beth said...

Hi, Debi. Sorry to be late commenting---been through some stuff.

Coincidentally, we have a brand new Walmart opening today in our community, and I must admit, I'm very happy about it. Out here in the sticks, we don't have a lot of shopping choices and the choices we have are often expensive. So Walmart is a boon here, since it also has provided 350 jobs. I'm not a fan of their corporate practices, but I've never quite understood why people pick on them since there are plenty of corporations with even more offensive practices. For low-income people like me, Walmart is a great place to shop. I do definitely patronize small businesses when I can, but so often their prices and selection are terrible and I just can't afford them.

Anyway, funny post.

Anonymous said...

I buy very little at Wally World because the clothing is crap, the colors wash out the first time it goes through the washing machine... their socks wear out way too fast. Their food prices are good, much cheaper than anywhere else in town otherwise I just can't see spending Hubby's hard earned money on their crappy products. You get what you pay for and I find that if I pay more the item hold up better. What's the point in buying cheap stuff that you just have to replace in a couple of months.. kind of defeats the purpose. I'd rather pay $100 for a well made leather purse and carry it for 4 years which breaks down to $25 a year than a piece of crappola Wal-Mart plastic purse that tears at the seams in a few months. Daddy always said "You Get What You Pay For". That's my shopping theory and I'm stickin' to it.

The Blue Ridge Gal
(so call me a shopping snob)

Debi Kelly Van Cleave said...

Di, it's true, you get what you pay for. But the sad thing is, say you only have $25 and you need a purse. Sure, you'd like to buy the hundred dollar one but you have no choice. I'm so sick of buying junk. But it's junk or nothing.

chris youngblood said...

I'm a Wally-World fan because of the low prices, convenience and some of their corporate practices are OK. In some warm places, like Texas, I've seen birds living in the rafters, pretty cheery!

Gail said...

Oh, I feel the same way...power shop and out the door.

colleen said...

I have to be well fed and rested to stand up to that place. I remember a movie I saw once where a young pregnant and homeless girl lived in a Walmart.

Museice said...

If you only shopped for 'Made In America' at Wal Mart you would save a ton of money. Of course you wouldn't have a belt, or clothes, or shoes, basically you would be naked but you could find some food.

rebecca barry said...

Oh Debbie, I've missed you. I haven't been able to check in on your blog in a while and when I saw this post in reminded how much I love, love, love the way you write.

I hate leaving my house too, and I really, REALLY hate WalMart. I've only been in there a few times but every time I go in get overwhelmed. I'm reminded of the island the size of Texas in the middle of the ocean that is full of plastic that will never break down and I look at all the plastic bottles and ugly crap and think, where is all of this going to go? And then I think, if they stopped making all this stuff right now there would still be enough for everyone in the world.

So thank you for writing about not wanting to leave the house and hating WalMart in such a wonderful way.