Posted on December 30, 2004

Wal-Mart’s Crystal Ball

Brandon D. Ragle, Your Civilization.Com, Dec. 28

The strength and culture of a nation are molded by the habits, customs, and ethics of its citizens. A free nation, no matter how lofty its ideals or storied its history, cannot function without a vivacious citizenry bound the to the national culture and committed to the preservation of liberty and the rule of law.

This type of citizenry—the patriotic and the proud, those who are rooted in the culture and steeped in the nation’s history and traditions—are a dying breed.

My mentioning of the state of the American public is no more a revelation than a simple observation. An observation I made recently on a trip the unholy temple of American consumerism and gluttony, Wal-Mart. I usually avoid the empire Sam Walton built like the plague and before walking through the doors on the day after Christmas to exchange a gift (a video game mistakenly purchased for a Playstation 2 instead of Xbox) I had not stepped foot inside a Wal-Mart in nearly 2 years.

After finding a place to park I headed to the store’s entrance amid a bustling crowd of post-holiday shoppers with the sound of Tejano/mariachi music in the background blaring from various jalopies and low-riders parked in front of the store. Entering the store I could not help but notice the demographic make-up of the shoppers. Just moments before, I was sure that I had been in the United States of America, but after walking through the doors it seemed as if I had been transported to some third world bazaar, complete with women in burkas, shoeless “New Americans,” and screaming children being chased by mothers shouting in Spanish.

After having my item stamped as a return by the blue-haired door greeter I made my way to the end of the long line formed in front of the customer service desk. While standing for a few minutes in the line I noticed that it had not moved. Apparently there was a problem with the party at the front of the line attempting to exchange their goods. From what I could hear from the conversation between the Wal-Mart “associate” and the non-English speaking couple at the front of line, the products they were attempting exchange were not purchased at Wal-Mart. The couple began to grow visibly upset by this and began to raise their voices in their native tongue. The rest of the line also began to grumble—in Spanish—as it became clear that they would be standing in line for a considerably longer period than they originally expected. I knew when I heard “We need a Spanish speaking associate to come to the customer service desk” over the store’s intercom that I would have to devise an alternate plan of action if I wished to have my gift exchanged within the hour.

Rather than wait it out I decided to head directly to the electronics’ department of the store, hoping I would be able to exchange my game for the Xbox version without a long delay. On my way through the store I was sideswiped by the basket of non-English speaking or incredibly rude young woman. When I offered up a polite “excuse me,” even though the fault of the collision was that of the young lady, she stared at me blankly and said nothing. To make the situation even more revolting, the woman was carting a toddler, no more than two years old, dressed in nothing but a diaper. Rather than walk around the mother and child and their veering cart, I tucked tail, did an about face, and walked to the next aisle.

After navigating through the throng of immigrants (legal and otherwise), screaming children, and obese bargain-seekers, I finally made my way to the electronics’ section of the store only to find an man of African ancestry, whose dress led me to assume that he was a recent arrival, stuffing CDs down his pants. We made eye contact for a brief moment and there is little doubt, despite our cultural differences, that the man noticed the troubled expression that crossed my face. Notwithstanding my discomfort, the man continued to pillage Wal-Mart’s music inventory as if I did not see what he was up to.

A chaotic atmosphere swirling around such a large store must embolden petty shoplifters. God knows this new arrival was not the only Wal-Mart “shopper” engaged in shenanigans of this nature. But whether or not America’s number one retailer was being looted was not of my concern, at this point I had grown rather annoyed and only wished to exchange my game and return back to civilization as fast as humanly possible.

After shuffling through the music aisle I reached the electronics’ checkout counter only to find no Wal-Mart employee in sight. My first instinct was to leave, but I decided to wait for a few minutes. After plotting a course through this maze of consumerism and “diversity” I was not about to depart empty handed.

Standing at the counter I began to take account—with the aid of my new Olympus digital voice recorder—of the human interactions developing around me. Some of the more telling recordings:

  • Hispanic child with dried snot under nose is banging on the Plexiglas case that holds video games, child’s parents do not intervene
  • Poorly dressed Caucasian woman missing front teeth decides she that she no longer wishes to purchase half of the items in her basket, she removes the items and places them in the middle of the aisle floor, woman weighs at least 300lbs.
  • Two Hispanic men are arguing at a high decibel in Spanish in what appears to be a dispute over money
  • Hispanic mother leaves cart with infant in the middle of main aisle while browsing store’s selection of DVDs, cart is obstructing the paths of other shoppers, when child begins to cry the mother does not return (this continued for the duration of my stay in the electronics’ department)
  • African man wandering around music section has now made his way to DVDs

After standing at the counter for what seemed like an eternity and still no Wal-Mart “associates” in sight I gave up my quest to exchange my Christmas gift and headed for the door. Not surprisingly the line in front of the customer service desk had grown even longer.

While heading to my car I could not help but ponder what transpired within the confines of the Wal-Mart Super Center. A sadness washed over my body as I thought about the health of my nation and the downward path it is most assuredly traveling.

Defeated and dejected I headed home, only to return to a Wal-Mart store the following day. On this trip I selected a store in a section of the Phoenix metropolitan area (the South Tempe/Ahwatukee area) with a more hospitable demographic composition. It should be noted that much of what was taking place in the Central Phoenix location that I had patronized the previous day was evident in this Wal-Mart, only to a lesser extent. I could not help but think that it would only be a matter of time before this location devolved into the multicultural fray I had experienced the day before. After a short time in line I was able to exchange my gift with only a minimal amount of hassle.

As I left the store, Xbox game in hand, I vowed never to subject myself to Wal-Mart again, unless, of course, I have another gift to exchange.

On the day after Christmas in the year 2004 I looked upon the future of America and that future, the future of my homeland, is fat, sloppy, impolite, and doesn’t speak English. It is a future that does not look, act, nor feel like the America of old.

If “diversity is our greatest strength” it certainly does not make for a pleasant shopping experience; well at least at Wal-Mart it doesn’t.