Tuesday, December 20, 2005

What is Walmartgatory and what can be done about it?

I am not part of the I-hate-Wal-mart crowd (heavily overlapping the I-disdain-people-who-shop-at-Wal-mart crowd); while I recognize the trouble a big-box discounter causes certain smaller retailers in the neighborhood, I know for a fact that they have their come-uppance too -- for example, when there are two big boxes in the neighborhood, even with the same company, market forces begin to reassert.  When we lived in Louisiana, the local WM had specially selected their staff for surliness and slovenly habits; we routinely drove an extra seven minutes or so to shop the next WM, one town over.  Everywhere, too, we do our pharmacy business with a local firm; the one in Smithfield, Carroll's Pharmacy, is outstanding, even though I differ with the pharmacist's politics.

But there is one thing which almost makes me sign on to conspiracy theories -- at certain levels of fatigue and certain hours of the day, I've noticed, I can almost sense a sort of haziness come over me in the supergiantmegabox WMs here.  It is accentuated by the difficulty in cell phone reception, especially the new WM between Clayton and Garner (very minimal signal by the cheese cooler, though enough digital to text message in an emergency … HOW MUCH BTR? ND REG FLOUR? -- It's Christmas week, you know.  Another five yards down the baking supply aisle, you lose digital service.  By the computer department or hardware, all signals are gone, period.)

We've dubbed this twilight place "Walmartgatory" -- where unrepentent shoppers are held indefinitely suspended in a sea of merchandise, cut off from weather and time, their communication with the outside world blocked or garbled (CAN YOU HEAR ME?), no information or reality except that which is selling or for sale.  It's like sensory deprivation experiments with your eyes wide open.

Is it the lights?  Do they flicker at a rate which induces a zombie-like state? 

Or is it simply the effect of too many trips to the same place for wildly different needs?  Surely this didn't happen at the General Store.  I can't say but it occurs often enough to make me wonder.  The only solution I've found is focus, focus, focus … must stay focused …

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