We went at midnight to retrieve the latest Harry Potter book (He's reading for fun! GET'EM!). Barnes & Noble was just too much of a mad house. So, we compromised our beliefs for one night and traveled to Wal-Mart.
I never shop at Wal-Mart. And tonight, I was reminded of why — besides the poor treatment of labor. It's the small things. Things like merchandise, employees, and customers. Little stuff. It's buying a dress shirt, walking five feet, buying some Funyuns, turning around, and getting some custom dog tags from a vending machine.
There are far too many sleeveless customers. Male and female. And none of them just came from the gym or from a basketball pick-up game. Let's keep in mind that it was after midnight, so I suppose the sleeveless crowd is more awake at that time. The guy in front of us was buying a grill. At midnight. And also Cheetos and pudding. His sleeves were all there, but I suspect if you're buying a grill at 12:00AM on a Friday night, then there are bodies in your freezer that need to disappear. Or else you were in the mood for Cheetos and pudding and you figured two birds with one stone. "Hey, I've got some bodies in the freezer... do they sell grills here, too?" Indeed they do, friend. Indeed they do.
And then the employees. Most of whom I assume are very nice people. I don't think there is really a dress code at Wal-Mart, except for the blue vest which dons the store name. I always thought, being young and having summer jobs, "Cool, Wal-Mart is a relaxed place to work." But, as you get older, those little things about a store start becoming more important. And when you see tie-dye and Wal-Mart vest, you run to the next check-out lane. And when you see plaid Grunge shirt and Wal-Mart vest, you run to the next check-out lane. And when you see "Real Men Wear Pink" tee and Wal-Mart vest, you run to the next check-out lane. And when you see wife-beater and Wal-Mart vest, you run to the next check-out lane. And when you see naked torso and Wal-Mart vest, you run out of the store all together.
This all took place at a Wal-Mart I had never been to. The Wal-Mart in my area is probably worse. I never like going in there because it literally looks like a war zone. Merchandise is haphazardly strewn about the aisles. No one is picking it up, only kicking it around to different aisles. The kids are wandering around unsupervised. I once saw children chasing each other through the store with bats. Not wiffle-ball bats. Wood and aluminum bats.
People are fighting over merchandise and bags of chips and packages of cookies are on the floor. And the employees at this Wal-Mart. Walk into this Wal-Mart, pick up something off the ground, and place it back where it's supposed to go. You now outrank a Wal-Mart employee.
Seriously, a war zone. As I stood there, waiting to pay for my book, I just stared at the dog tag vending machine. That's why they have these here. It's not for the fun or novelty, it's for identification later on when the police show up.
The Chief scans the scene at the local Wal-Mart. "Man alive! Let's just hope there are survivors who can tell us what happened here."
"Why not just check the security cameras?" says a rookie officer.
The Chief holds up the newspaper of this week's deals at Wal-Mart. SECURITY CAMERAS $21.66. "Someone probably thought it was for sale and took it all out."
"My god," says the rookie.
"Well, let's get to work," says the Chief. "You know the drill. Dog tag vending machine records. Start ID'ing the bodies."