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.
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":