Monday, June 09, 2008

I was going to write an entry about how nothing seems to bother me that much anymore. Back when I first started writing this it seemed like everything pissed me off. But these days if I see MTV I don’t get mad, I can enjoy it for its entertainment value. If I see a douche bag I’m not furious at how stupid he is, I just laugh at his ridiculous wardrobe and imagine seeing him as an assistant manager at Sports Authority twenty years from now.

But then I realized that I just haven’t seen anything lately that has really infuriated me. I don’t put myself in those situations too often anymore. But then earlier this week I found myself at Wal-Mart, the melting pot of everything that is awful about the human race.

I saw a commercial for Wal-Mart the other day. It was for a patio furniture set. A family was just loving every inch of the thing. They were smiling, laughing, and having possibly the greatest time of their lives since little Marky got a B+ on his spelling test. And why were they smiling? Because at no point in the commercial did any member of the family set foot inside an actual Wal-Mart. They wisely had the set delivered. If they had gone to a store, the commercial would have featured crying, screaming, and at least two showers. You could tell they hadn’t been inside a store because they weren’t covered in filth or attempting to commit suicide.

I had to go to Wal-Mart to look for a new Wiffle Ball bat (their selection was limited and did not yield a good bat). As soon as I stepped in the doors I regretted the decision. The fact that they pay a person to stand at the door and remind you to have a pleasant experience says a lot about how confident the store is in itself. Then I saw the customers. It's not like I was expecting a crowd of well educated professionals, but I was still taken aback. I'm just not around people like that often. They probably passed just as much judgment on me. Upon seeing my glasses I’m sure someone declared that I was from the future. Just assuming based on appearance, a Wal-Mart at any given moment has the second lowest IQ per square foot of any area, just behind the entire state of West Virginia.

Wal-Mart somehow makes Toys R Us seem clean. The floors are dirtier than a Vietnamese barber shop that caters to the homeless. So imagine my surprise when I heard a woman say to her child, “We can leave as soon as I find my shoes.” I turned around to verify it, and yes, she indeed was walking around a Wal-Mart barefoot. You might as well wash your feet in the runoff of a hot dog factory. The only semi-rational reason for walking barefoot at Wal-Mart is if you have already contracted every single disease known to man and are thus immune to anything more. But this woman looked reasonably healthy. She probably isn’t anymore, though. If a deranged murderer were chasing me through a Wal-Mart and my shoes fell off I would not continue running. I would rather take my chances with the murderer’s rusty kitchen knife than whatever is on the floor. It’s odd Wal-Marts don’t sell beekeeper’s or Hazmat suits, because those seem to be the safest way to shop there.

At the end of my terrible trip to Wal-Mart, my brother bought a cable for his iPod, so, as is customary at the store, he had to pay for it. Luckily for us there were some self-checkout stations, which are up there with the light bulb and the Game Boy Camera as the greatest inventions of all time. Why? Because you don’t have to deal with store employees. There’s no awkward exchange of pleasantries. There’s no strange moment when you have to stand there putting bills back in your wallet while the clerk just looks on. And, in Wal-Mart’s case, there’s no dealing with inbred mountain people behind the register spitting teeth at you. But, it being Wal-Mart, there was an issue with the self-checkout lane.

There’s a pretty clear order of operations there. Four registers, one line. The person at the front of the line goes to whichever register opens. When my brother and I were at the front of the line a woman, whom I will assume is named something like Mallika or Birju and whose purchase included some form of curry, decided to step in front of us. Who knows why. We looked at her, she looked at us, there were some hand gestures exchanged, and she got back in line. None of that should have happened. If I wanted an awkward exchange I would have asked a Wal-Mart employee for his dental records.

As I left the store I had one thought: How do Wal-Mart employees spend eight hours a day there and not blow their brains out? The only explanation is that they don’t know how to take the safeties off anything in the rifles department.

Or, who knows, maybe they love it. They get up every morning with a smile on their faces, looking forward to stocking bicycles and lots of Mexican CDs. Maybe there are whole families of Wal-Mart employees, who value and respect their profession like coal miners or doctors.

This could have been cleared up if I ever spoke to an employee. But I didn’t because I didn’t want to contract whatever disease they have that led them to a position at Wal-Mart.

Or maybe they’re perfectly fine. What I can conclude is that the Wal-Mart on Windward Parkway in Alpharetta does not carry good Wiffle Ball bats and has some strange customers. That’s good enough a conclusion for me. For further study you'll have to experience it firsthand.