Friday, February 20, 2009

Wal-Mart Woes: A Tale Of Two Tragedies

Note: please pardon the utter uselessness of this post at this time.The following is a result of my pent-up irritation at the Long Island Wall-Mart shoppers since last November. Also pardon the length. My only excuse is that my favorite quote is by Blaise Pascal, who said, "I'm sorry I wrote you a long letter-I didn't have time to write a short one."

          "liberty, equality, fraternity, or 1 hour photo service!"

It was the best of times for Wal-Mart, it was the worst of times: it was the age of Fisher Price brats, it was the age of iPod addicts. It was the epoch of belief in tabloid magazine stories, it was the epoch of chewing gum and cigarette lighters and sheet sets that had been marked down fifty percent. It was the materialistic season of the fat fellow it the luridly red coat, it was the season of stuffed Easter bunnies on steroids, and the leering leprechauns who added a particular grace to every object from socks to greeting cards. We had plastic before us, we had no eco-friendly recycled paper before us: we were all going direct to the clearance isle, or we were all going direct the other way, namely, to the Dollar Store.

    The previous paragraph could be said at any time, and in any place, of any Wal-Mart. I genuinely like Wal-Mart It is one of those necessities that supplies the general populous with their daily needs. Wal-Mart has good prices. People like good prices. Thus, most people like Wal-Mart. The problem is, some people like good prices a little too much. Perhaps some of you heard about Jdimytai Damour, the 34-year-old Wall-Mart worker who died after being trampled by frenzied shoppers on Friday, November 28, 2008, at a Long Island Wal-Mart. I feel terribly sorry for Mr. Damour’s family, but adult men and women who fight in the Wal-Mart toy department, and use their shopping carts as battering rams on Black Friday must be ridiculed.
    I heard of the trampling story a few days after Thanksgiving. Part of me was horrified, but most of me was laughing at the idiocy of these people. I imagined them as wild beasts, peering in the Wal-Mart doors, glaring at the brave employee who had the guts to venture to the front of the store and open the doors, releasing the flood of greedy hedonists. Now I’m sure not all of them were hedonists, but I’ll wager that out of the two-thousand shoppers who charged in the doors that morning- some of them were definitely hedonists.

"Oh yes, they're savages," A witness confirmed, also adding that the shoppers kept shopping even after Damour had fallen- adding a new meaning to "shop till you drop." (Athough it would actually be until someone else drops).
This behavior mystifies me. Or perhaps it doesn’t.

    Unfortunately at this point, I’m starting to think this situation is a a bit too much like the storming of the Bastille, in Paris, France. Savage nobility invariable exacerbates the situation of the savage masses: and the result in 1789, according to Wikipedia, was that a crowd of around 8,000 men and women “gathered outside around mid-morning, calling for the surrender of the prison, the removal of the guns and the release of the arms and gunpowder...” At any rate, the French masses were mad.
    The Wal-Mart tragedy is not much different. NY Daily Times reported that, “Chanting 'push the doors in,' the crowd pressed against the glass as the clock ticked down to the 5 a.m. opening.”
    The rest of the Wal-Mart story is history too, and doesn’t merit a longer account.

    So what should Wal-Mart do next time besides call in the National Guard?
    Michael Bergdahl, a former Wal-Mart executive, once remarked that “The key to Operations at Wal-Mart is their ability to maintain the highest standards while at the same time getting things done with lockstep execution.”
    Now I’m sure Bergdahl’s bit about “lockstep execution” didn’t imply armed forces, border guard patrols, and police officers armed with tear gas, but if that quote didn’t seem to imply something sinister to you, I’m starting to wonder if you even read it.

    I get a horrible feeling inside when I think of the nice old lady who stands at the door of Wal-mart and hands out those garish circles with beady little eyes they call “smiley stickers.” But wait- they don’t hand those out anymore. Oh well, even beady-eyed smiley faces eventually become bit passé- or just too expensive to hand out to the masses. But disregarding exactly what Wal-mart “greeters” give you (excepting the bag checks administered due to faulty shoplifting alarms), I fear for those people who nobly take a stance near the door, facing wild mobs, screaming children, and angry guide dogs. If angry guide dogs do, in fact, exist. 
    Another problem that Wal-Mart must deal with, is the group of- ah, rather uninformed folks like Paris Hilton , who was said to have put forth the scintillating query, “Wall-mart... do they like make walls there?”
    I am tempted to disregard this one (since I’m reminded that I can’t believe everything I see on quote compilation websites), or make up some excuse that Miss Hilton was “but a child” when this utterance escaped her mouth- but this quote was simply to good not to repeat. (Besides, I know neither the breadth nor depth of human stupidity, so when I choice example comes my way, I’ll believe it).
    Now the thing that I really find amusing, is that this quote was listed on a site called “Brainy Quote.” A perfectly ordinary site for an ordinary person like me. (I’m inclined to think the authors of that web page simply had a deliciously nasty sense of irony).
The aforementioned question is undeniably a gem of a quote, although it cannot compare to G.K. Chesterton’s witticisms. I’m afraid I must deduct a point, however, for her convenient use of the word “like,” which is a warning that the quote contains absolutely nothing worth hearing. But back to the topic.

    Tragically, if the Wal-Mart store in Long Island listens to Sam Walton’s words, it will never be able to live up to its founder’s expectations for a good Wal-Mart, since Walton was the brilliant visionary who remarked, “Each Wal-Mart store should reflect the values of its customers and support the vision they hold for their community.”
    I don’t think that the customers’ values and morals (or lack thereof) are worth imitating, but I appreciate Wal-Mart’s effort to appreciate their customers. Yes, the stores are certainly intent on serving the populace, even if they must die opening the doors during the best (or worst?) of these materialistic times.

Viva La Wal-Mart,


Miss Autumn said...

LOL! That made me laugh!

I really liked how you used opening of "The Tale Of Two City's!" :D

That was really sad. Are we really that greedy!?!

Jessica said...

LOL! Nice post, Natalie!

Nice new signature, too. I love it!

Katie said...

Well said.

Elisabeth said...

That was really quite fabulous :D

(Also, never doubt the stupidity contained in a Paris Hilton quote.)

Natalie said...

thank you:)

I never thought I would mention P.H. on this blog- but it's terribly hard to ignore blatant stupidity...