Due to an unforeseen confluence of events and momentous lack of planning on the part of both myself and my adoring, dedicated wife and mother of our two girls, I found myself staring down the clock at 10pm last night knowing full well I had some sundries shopping to do.

That means one thing and one thing only.

A late-night trip to WalMart.

Ever since March 26th, 1998, when we moved into our palatial Fringecrest estate, WalMart has been an infrequent and reluctant retail option, physically located a mere 2,467.80 feet (or so) away from our front door. In these 12 years of residential proximity to Sam's legacy, I have purchased the vast majority of paper towels, dishwasher detergent, kitty litter, Western Organics composted mulch, Gillette Fusion razor blades, and a few other last minute mundane necessities of modern family life at the Walmart at Zuni and San Mateo.

And yes I know that WalMart really really really really really really really really sucks. Hard.

The thing I personally find at the top of the abhorrence list for Walmart is its contribution to the "Sprawlification" of our fruited plains- especially in small to medium size population centers all across America. Take, for example a town like Silver City. It had (some may say still has) a vibrant, established and quaint downtown area that was at one point the pulse of the small, iconic western town. It was the main center of daily life and commerce, with hat shops, a pharmacy, western mercantile, feed store, furniture store, etc., etc. With the advent of WalMart and their superstore business model, built conveniently on the very outskirts of town due to its low real estate costs and "if you build it they will come" anti-ethos, the sprawly insidiousness has been effectively accomplished. This significantly foments the transformation of a friendly town, and destroys the fabric of the camaraderie of small town life.

Insert your own reason to hate Walmart where you please. May I suggest the comments section that follows this post?

But honestly, it's too easy to bash Walmart. Especially the one near our house. Somebody once lit a section of the store on fire. Recently, a woman was caught smoking crack in the bathroom there (Is that true? I couldn't confirm online but I swear I heard that and am more than happy to perpetuate said rumor...). Then there was the time that a 70-something year old man shot and killed an estranged boyfriend who was attempting to stab his ex-girlfriend who happened to be the deli counter attendant. It appears as though it was a historic killing that will live in Albuquerque concealed carry historinfamy.

I would estimate that I frequent and patronize the store about 6 times a year, although perhaps I am giving myself too much credit and it's more like once a month... I really can't say because I block so much of it out.

I block out the sheer multitudes of kids under 6 years of age who are there after 10pm. I block out the boggling number of inappropriately dressed patrons I see. Yes, that includes you Ms. flip flops with socks wearer. There's a whole website devoted to THAT topic. I block out the unhealthy, chemical laden, shelf-ready, poor excuse for nutrition "food" items gracing the shelves- isn't "Asian Helpers" grossly culturally insensitive? Their online tagline asks "Who couldn't use a little help in the kitchen?" Are we really supposed to answer to ourselves, "Asian people?". But I digress and blur the lines of PC myself....

I block out the (IMHO) unfit parents treating their kids like red-headed step-accessories. I block out the sad fish in the mosttimes unlit tanks tucked way in the back near the dog food and Scoop-Away. I block out the sad plants at the outside, completely chainlink-contained "nursery", the ones that are only marginally suited to our special blend of high desert microclimate varied even further depending upon your neighborhood, and exposure of your yard-- they are undoubtedly destined for a quick death at the hands of well meaning but ill-suited future not-quite-green thumbs.

But now i'm just making myself look elitist and callous. Which, of course, is easy to do when you live as close to Walmart as I do. At least i'm doing it so that you have even more ammunition to shop locally.

I block out the wholly inappropriate conversations about boyfriends and relatives, prison sentences and bondsmen, wronged and jilted parties, that people have no qualms prattling on about into their cellmegaphones.

If it weren't for the sprinkling of UNM students buying cleaning supplies at the end of the semester and the oddly upbeat "sewing and crafting" section with its cutesy bolts of fabrics and frontier-like "make the kids some Spongebob Squarepants fleecy pajamas yourself at home for almost as cheap as we sell the ones that are made by child labor in China" quality, the Walmart at Zuni and San Mateo would be a total loss.

Have I failed to mention the Moneygram service desk and its endless line of perpetually emergent desperate-depressed? Have I failed to mention the greeters who themselves might be good candidates for America's Most Wanted? Have I failed to mention the fireworks tents they allow to be set up in the parking lots no matter how dry the weather has been nor the actual level of fire risk? Have I failed to mention that they sell guns and ammo? At Walmart. Guns and Ammo. In the same place where the 72 year old guy shot the other, bad dude, dead, 2,467 feet from my house.

The stuff writes itself when you live as close to a Walmart as I do. Remember that the next time you have to go out at 10pm to get celery and cream cheese, along with some animal crackers for your daughter's kindergarten "snacktime" once-per-month parental obligation.

It'll really make you examine where you went wrong, where you allowed yourself to "get used to this lifestyle":

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Comments are closed for this blog post

Comment by juniper berri on April 7, 2010 at 10:52am
Masshole-OMG- Yes.
The last time we had to stop there was the last time we will stop there. We all agreed.
How long can this last...
will the call of our laundry needs eventually win out over our convictions to not support the EVIL giant?
Alas, time will tell.
Comment by hettie on April 7, 2010 at 10:53am
"historinfamy" and "cellmegaphones" will now be on my list of words I must inject into casual conversation somehow. the latter will be easy; the former will be deliciously challenging. thanks, masshole! excellent post, btw. I'm looking forward to the ensuing comments. I'll give it a shot:

walmart sucks, for the many reasons you reference above. we refer to it as mallwart. however, their pharmacy has a policy of prescription pricing that makes it a necessity for many customers, on account of the fact that we don't see fit in this nation to, you know, take care of the weakest among us (new healthcare legislation aside).

it is a corporation that is responsible, on the one hand, for decreasing the number of local businesses and driving down the percentage of retail dollars that remain in a community, while, on the other hand, providing the cheap alternative that some people in a community need because the financial quality of life has been reduced (wait for it)......by the introduction of walmart and its ilk. it's a "made in china" feedback loop that leads to increased homogenization of the american landscape and the decline of american manufacturing. one of the great ironies of walmart is that many among its customer base are those who proclaim themselves fiercely patriotic and never consider the fact that buying all their crap from china is about the least patriotic thing one can do.
Comment by Monica on April 7, 2010 at 12:01pm
I was told a story by an old co-worker of mine that completely fueled my hatred for Walmart. She grew up in Minnesota and her family owned land. When her parents died, they divided the land among their children. The land happened to become prime commercial real estate and one day Walmart came in and decided they wanted to take their land. Her family took them to court and, of course, the court ruled in Walmart's favor and they lost their birthright to Walmart. It's a such a sad, sad story
Comment by slamwagon on April 7, 2010 at 12:04pm
Eminent domain for Walmart? Really?
Comment by slamwagon on April 7, 2010 at 12:06pm
Speaking of eminent domain and such... I think PNM has it out for my neighbor. Her yard is being man-handled by PNM (all within their easement), but Jesus, they're some dirty birdies.
Comment by juniper berri on April 7, 2010 at 12:15pm
slamwagon- I am curious! Can you eleaboate on your neighbors/PNM and what's going on?

Oh, btw, I grew up in Columbia Missouri and oddly the Walton family estate (Walmart folks) is just outside city limits. I never went there or knew the kids but my aunt is a interior designer and worked there for awhile. She is pretty down to earth and was not impressed by the ostentatious'ness of the place. They live large, the disgusting b#stards.
Comment by slamwagon on April 7, 2010 at 1:11pm
juniper - Well, the underground cable that feeds the group of houses we're in corroded and failed. They linked the houses that lost power to a separate box in my neighbors yard (the modern boxes can handle more homes than they used to). The process of linking the homes to the box left our neighbor with a huge hole in her yard and pile of dirt on her driveway. It was pretty hardcore.

Update: I went home for lunch and all was put back together. PNM, good job, we can hardly tell you were there. Next time try and COMMUNICATE with the residents so we know WTF you're doing. Thanks.
Comment by the hand model on April 7, 2010 at 2:20pm
Masshole, you rule.
The last three paragraphs are great, and the video icing on the cake (Johnny Marr strumming with the T Heads, go figure.)
Comment by once banned twice shy on April 7, 2010 at 2:43pm
Lady in flip-flops and socks? That was ME, bro. Heh..just kidding. I don't leave the house like that.

A friend of mine says Walmart smells like poverty and desperation. Which launched me into a fit of what do other stores smell like? K-Mart = poverty and resignation. Target: Bourgeoisie and false sense of superiority. Feel free to jump on in, here.

But one of the things about WalMart is that it pays its employees crap wages, fights the union tooth and nail and therefore keeps a customer base--if you pay people crap, all they can afford is the crap at WalMart. Oh, and yes, they will sell you guns and ammunition--at 3 am even if you are drunk. A friend of mine had two, count them, TWO friends kill themselves after getting themselves good, drunk and depressed and trotting off to WalMart to buy guns and ammo.

I quit shopping there after one evening witnessing a mother and father (I gather they were the mother and father, anyway) scream over the head of their toddlers that they were going to f-ing kill each other, stab each other until they bled to death, etc., etc. I wanted to confront them, but I'll admit I was scared. I really have never seen an equivalent scene in any other store.
Comment by ramon t on April 7, 2010 at 3:30pm
"But one of the things about WalMart is that it pays its employees crap wages"

My brother has been working at Wal-Mart distribution center in Los Lunas for 9 years. They pay better then most any other warehouse operations in the area. Their benefits are on par and he is paid bonuses and has other perks that other warehouses don't. Always the other side of the coin.

"fights the union tooth"

That is a bad thing?

" Oh, and yes, they will sell you guns and ammunition--at 3 am even if you are drunk."


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