12.01.2004

walmart looking glass

About six months ago my husband inisisted we go visit a local Walmart. We'd never seen one before but it had been making news as the biggest employer in Mexico, the latest "not in my back yard" in nearby trendy cities and the fastest growing retail stock.

I reluctantly agreed and we began hunting for the well-hidden Mountain View Walmart. After passing it three times, we found Walmart and a parking spot and started making our way to the door. The front of the store was congested with over-sized shopping traffic jam. Heaps and heaps of bright blue bags impeded the view of the shopping cart drivers who were making their way back to their cars.

As we entered the store a hidden demographic of Bay Area residents unfurled before us. Grossly obese customers gingerly pushed their carts past the elderly with varing combinations of canes and walkers who were dodging concerned parents who zigged and zagged their shopping carts with one hand while tugging their retarted kids with the other.

Two foot sings with large prices dotted the landscape before us like TV antennas on rooftops while the in-store video network droned on with commericials, tips, explosions and whatever else to get us to buy more.

We reached the detergent isle and a frail eighty-something cauccasian woman in slippers wearing a 1960's house coat decorated with green, orange and hot pink butterflies leaned over and asked if I could figure out the price of this dishwashing liquid. I recoiled as her death breath escaped from behind her three remaining teeth and twirled around her every word. I did my best to help her but she needed more than I could give.

My husband, a kid in a candy store, was hysterically rattling off all the prices (calculating the pennies per once in his head) and noting that there was indeed a savings. His finds were being cleared off the shelves and heaped in our cart. The products looked familiar but the words on the labels did not. The Pine Sol and 409 bottles were designed for the Spanish-speaking world - could this be part of the reason for the savings?

We inched our way thorugh toilet paper, car parts, gold fish, electornics, and crafts items until we finally made it to the check-out where a 3ft tall elderly lady totalled upour items. She had difficulty reaching the conveyor belt so we assisted in transferring the heavy detergent box into our very own blue plastic bags.

Walmart... a world like no other.

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