taking the passive out of passive-aggressive

Friday, February 25, 2005

I almost had a panic attack in the Wal-Mart today. That's how much Wal-Mart freaks me out.

OK, OK--I go to Sam's Club. I know Sam's Club sucks, I know that the Wal-Mart corporation is evil, and yes, I know that Costco is an actual liberal donor. But Costco is in Glen Burnie, which is the ass end of the earth as far as I can tell. And Sam's Club is right off the highway. So when I need formula, printer paper, size 4 pampers, or that weird mozzarella salad that comes in a giant plastic jar, it's Sam's Club for me.

Clearly, I should feel conflicted about this--guilty, maybe, too. But I've realized that I live far less by political principle than maybe I'd like to think. Instead, my guiding values seem to be all about "what's interesting?" And I find Sam's Club kind of interesting. It's this bizarre amalgam of bad service, enormous food, and weird one-off items like huge trampolines and bizarre yard tents. Everyone in Sam's Club seems either desperate or overfed, including me. And the warehouse feeling of it appeals to my minimalist--well, okay, let's face it, CHEAP--sensibilities.

And yet Wal-Mart is a totally different story.

Wal-Mart is attempting to be an actual store, like Target. A place where you might go every few days, or once a week, instead of that quarterly trip to Sam's Club. And yet they have done absolutely nothing--and I mean nothing--to make the experience remotely pleasant, or even navigable.

I only went there because my bank has a branch in the store, and I figured I could get some formula while I was there. And yet the signage was so confusing, and the TVs were blaring all over the place, and the nauseating smell of McDonald's, and the hideous displays and giant smiley faces that reminded me of the blinking emoticons on certain websites I won't name... anyway, it all added up to a constricted feeling in my chest, an inability to breathe.

In this inarticulate, close-to-the-edge state, I approached a blue-vested Wal Mart "associate". I couldn't even begin to think about unions while I talked to him, which is probably part and parcel of their evil and distracting store design. Anyway, this Wal Mart was huge and I'd been wandering around for what seemed like hours, looking for formula. The associate said, "Baby stuff is in the back corner." So I went on a three mile trek only to find CLOTHES, not diapers and formula and whatnot.

By this time I'm approaching full-on freakout, so I decided to cut my losses and head for the hills.

And then tonight I got home and realized that of course, we have no formula. Sheepishly I called my husband up and said, "um, we need formula, honey." He's all, "I'm not getting out of work til ten! Where will I get formula at ten?"

And of course I have to say it.... "Well, Wal Mart's open!"


At 9:01 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

No use rationalizing your actions you are a REPUBLICAN!

At 5:59 AM, Blogger chang said...

Oh, Claire. Osama loves you because of your SUV (although he's quite fond of my Volvo 740 and my Honda Accord as well).

And now Warren Buffett loves you, too!

Hey, try this. Next time you go to ask a WalMart asssociate something, phrase it like this:

"UNIONIZE! Yeah, Hi, I'm looking for baby formula? Where would I find that?"

Thank you. I'll take my answer off the air.

At 7:01 AM, Blogger Claire said...

FYI, he went to CVS, not Wal Mart, and the baby isn't starving any more, so everyone wins.

I'm going to make a "UNIONIZE" t-shirt and keep it in the back of my car for any time I need to go into a big box store. It will be an intereting experience to see how fast I get booted. Maybe I should bring Michael Moore along for kicks.

At 6:50 PM, Blogger Joshua Berlow said...

We get all our formula and disposable diapers at Wal*Mart. It's not supposed to be a pleasant experience, it's supposed to be cheap. However, it seems like all the Wal*Marts are designed in the same way, so once you find the formula at one of them, you can find it at all of them. We even tried the Wal*Mart brand baby formula. Fortunately, it didn't kill the baby, but we did end up switching to Nestle Good Start Supreme. What gets me is that Nestle Good Start is half the price in Trinidad, my wife's home county. Taking a plane to Trinidad to get formula just isn't practical, so we shop at Wal*Mart.

Wal*Mart seems to be the ONLY place that carries the jumbo size powdered formula can, so if you shop there you run out of formula less often. Saves on gas and packaging materials as well as price.

At 5:09 AM, Blogger dogfaceboy said...

I can't really find any justification for shopping at Wal-Mart. They are racist, sexist, anti-Semites. And really, saving a few pennies isn't worth all the made-in-China tea in China.

I do, however, justify my SUV. It will be paid off in two months. I've owned it five years and have under 32,000 miles on it. I use it to transport my two wild dogs and whatever children are on hand, and a station wagon just wouldn't do. Add to that the fact that I was a house painter and needed a truck-size vehicle.

I probably use much less gas than most people. AND I buy Japanese! :)

But seriously, I hope you will reconsider Wal-Mart and choose Target instead. Yes, they are red, but they give so much to their communities, and they don't allow those dreaded bell-ringers to guilt you out of your pennies.

Costco is out my way, too--Pulaski Highway. It's a 20-minute drive from my house, so I'll be happy to escort you and your sis there some time.


At 8:14 PM, Blogger Joshua Berlow said...

I did a websearch to see if I could find anything to back up DogFaceBoy's claim that Wal*Mart is "racist, sexist, anti-Semites".
What I found was interesting.

Wal*MArt was criticized for selling "The Protocols of the Elders of Zion" a famous anti-Semitic tract. They stopped selling it immediately, and then they were criticized for banning books.

As far as sexist goes, they were slapped with the largest sex-discrimination case in history, when every female employed at Wal*Mart anytime since Dec 26, 1998 (1.6 million current and former female employees of Wal-Mart retail stores, including Wal-Mart discount stores, super centers, and Sam's Clubs) was represented in a class action. Why not just sue on behalf of every woman ever employed and call it a day?

Also, I asked my wife about the formula thing. In fact, the same formula you get at Wal*Mart here in the US at $11 a can cost $3 in Trinidad. Why is that? My wife actually gets relatives to bring up suitcases full of baby formula.


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