For years now, Wal-Mart and I have had a sort of love-hate relationship. I remember in the 80’s when it was all the rage and I lived in my small town; it was the biggest (and only) store that seemed to be open on a Sunday – oh sure, there was Hastings, but Hastings didn’t have the zillion choices I craved in a shopping experience. Where I was typically able to avoid cruising the Dairy Queen for entertainment, I couldn’t always resist the siren call of Wal-Mart, especially when I had a small allowance, an overwhelming desire to be a consumer and absolutely had to have a pre-molded plastic something to get me through the next semester.
Back in Austin, Wal-Mart and I hardly ever saw each other as my shopping habits changed. But our time apart was short lived. After I got married we were reintroduced as part of a horrific holiday ritual with the new in-laws called “let’s get Beth up at 4am to get to the Wal-Mart for day after Christmas shopping” YAY! A couple of years of being slammed around by overeager, feisty, grabby post-Christmas shoppers and Wal-Mart and I had to have a final break-up. No longer would I get smacked by a shopping cart to have Crayola Christmas lights snatched from my hands. (Ok, that actually never happened, but people were still pretty awful in their frenzy to get deals. I actually own the discounted Crayola lights – if anyone wants them – unopened – yours free.)
I can now count on one hand the number of times I walked through its doors in the last two years. Once for a lawnmower, another to purchase Stephen Colbert’s Americone Dream by Ben & Jerry’s (it was worth the parking lot hassle) and yesterday. (Well, there may have been another time, but I can’t remember the reason for being there other than trying to burn a lot of time while waiting on someone and being too far away from home to just hang out there.)
The thing I absolutely hate about Wal-Mart is it induces in me some sort of shopping daze where I go in empty handed and leave with a basket full of things I’m not sure I remember actually buying. Things I didn’t realize I wanted until they were sitting in my trunk.
Yesterday’s purchases: camp chairs (ok, I planned on those for April’s Thanksgiving in the park), Pyrex portable (it’s got a lid for the dish and thermal lining! and I am supposed to bring something to Thanksgiving that’s best served warmish – another planned purchase), and then I went into a small frenzy. I “needed” a cover for the splattery food within the microwave – sure, I didn’t want one before, but it was only $1.99! Then, looking at this thing that looked like a lid, I realized I needed a pie carrier for all those pies I never make. I find one and it has these nifty inserts – one insert can convert the carrier into a deviled egg carrier (for all the deviled eggs I never make) and one will make it a cupcake holder (again… don’t really make cupcakes), but I was absolutely fascinating by it and had to own it. I even eyed a new blender, a rice cooker and espresso machine (because I don’t drink coffee, but I did imagine it would make a great present and people like espresso, right?) Thankfully, I managed to keep my hands at my side and not walk out with these as well. Overall, it could have been worse. We also hit the grocery store side, but didn’t stay there long thanks to HEB holding a bigger sway over me.
When I checked-out, snatching a copy of People because it had Barack Obama’s face on the cover (look, there wasn’t a copy of Time or Newsweek there – it was that or OK! magazine and I was still in “consume” mode) I stood back in awe as I saw over the lanes that I could also bank there, get new glasses, get a manicure, have my taxes done, have a family portrait and do all of this while enjoying a Big Mac. I swear, it was like country come to town – boy howdy, it was a consumer’s dream come true in one single shopping experience.
Now, if I want to have any money ever again, I need to make a vow to stay away from that place or I’ll end up tithing to it without even being aware.