I am not a person who goes to Walmart. Even if I put aside the various accusations of how they treat employees or drive small businesses out of business, I just can't wrap my mind around shopping at Walmart. Maybe it is because I associate Walmarts with trailer parks and other symbols of America's great unwashed masses.
Don't get me wrong, I am not an elitist in the sense that I want to shop at exclusive boutiques. I just prefer to shop at places that don't reek of stale popcorn and have clientele who resemble extras in a Night of the Living Dead sequel.
But we were in Hermiston, Oregon, a burg half way between our home in Washington state and my birthplace in Boise where I was taking my family for a reunion of sorts. And our hotel was a block or two away from a Walmart and we needed a few items. When you are traveling with toddlers, you tend to put aside minor aversions to places such as Walmart for convenience sake. After all, I was also a stranger in Hermiston and no one I knew would actually see me set foot in a Walmart.
.In a fashion, Walmarts are not that different than a Target. But for some reason, a Target seems less seedy and consumption obsessed. Walmarts seem like the next generation of K-marts, the tawdry mega stores of my childhood. I come from a generation familiar with blue light specials and bags of submarine sandwiches for a $1.00. So you would think I wouldn't be bothered by a seedy Walmart.
This wasn't the first time I'd been in a Walmart. I think I mentioned that I took my family to one near my home town around Christmas when I was searching for a replacement for my white artificial Elvis Christmas tree. Since I'd bought the original Elvis tree at a K-mart, I figured Walmart would have a suitable replacement. But after encountering a bedraggled rat in the Christmas tree section of the store, I quickly herded my family out of the place.
I didn't see any rats in the Hermiston Walmart. I kept scanning the floors for them, however. I was tempted to interrogate the greeter about rodent infestations as we walked in, but he seemed totally focused on his one primary task, trying to appear cheery and welcoming while being paid minimum wage.
And speaking of the greeters at Walmart, I had this idea some time back. Walmart should start building senior residences into their stores. It's a genius idea, really. They'd have a built in workforce who could work their in exchange for room and board. After all, the stores offer medical services, eye exams and crappy food.
But I digress.
I wish I could say that I was pleasantly surprised by my visit to Walmart. But I wasn't. We wandered through aisle after aisle of merchandise that I'm sure was cheaper than most stores. But then again it was generally crap that no one really needed. There were tons of flat screen televisions and DVD players beckoning to a clientele that on a whole didn't appear to be able to afford food let alone cheap electronics. Regardless, Walmart offers up the American dream at discount prices.
We grabbed the stuff we came for and dashed out past the bleary eyed greeter into the daylight. I was anxious to get back to the hotel and go swimming. I had this uncontrollable urge to immerse myself in water. I'm pretty sure it had something to do with having spent time in a Walmart.