Saturday, June 24, 2017

Shopping at Walmart

I found a keychain in a drawer. It was a double 3” X 5” piece of Lucite with a snapshot of all our children taken about twenty years ago at Graceland. It’s the last shot I have of them all together before our son’s schizophrenia consumed him changing our lives forever.

I took it to Walmart to be copied. I only go there when I have no other source. I resent the fact that it has changed retail in our country. I used to love shopping in Dime Store in small towns. Besides putting countless small family owned stores out of business, Walmart robbed us of a small piece of our regional diversity.

Walmart controls the prices manufacturers charge for their product and therefore the quality. They are also extremely slow to pay them.

It doesn’t require a degree in labor relations to see Walmart is not a great place to work. They pay minimum wage and squeeze the employees as hard as they do their suppliers.  Female employees in the past have charged the company with discrimination.

But despite all this, there are occasions when I feel compelled to shop there, and this was one of them. I had a choice between patronizing Walmart and driving across town to start a complicated and lengthy process with Graceland for copies my snapshot. It was a no brainer decision.
The woman who waited on me was polite and most helpful. She obviously wasn’t familiar with the process, but between the two of us, we made it work.

Pressed for time, as usual, I decided to do my food shopping there as well. The selection might not have been as varied as in other stores, but it was clean, the prices were good and the other shoppers were most helpful and more polite than in my local Kroger. Part of that might be because most of the Walmart shoppers weren’t wearing ear buds.

In this country’s political upheaval of the past year, the large percentage of our population trapped below the poverty line with no means of escape has become glaringly apparent. This country is no better or stronger than its weakest citizen. Cultural values as well as politics and economics are the cause.
What’s the remedy? I don’t pretend to know, but I am going to change one aspect of my own behavior in hopes of starting a trend. Anyone who has read my book, Raiders and Horse Thieves, Memoir of a Central Texas Baby Boomer, knows my origins are exceedingly humble. As a result, I’ve never looked down on anyone for being poor. I reserve that for politicians who chew gum on the dais during the Presidential Inauguration.

But I have looked at those series of pictures on Facebook of people in Walmart behaving or dressed out of the norm. Never again will I participate. It’s time for us to stop laughing at those of us less fortunate and start looking for ways to help them help themselves.  

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