April 25, 2014

It was late at night, and I needed to duplicate 2 house keys.  My usual emporium was closed for the night, so I decided to trek into the land of Walmart.  Legend tells that this place is capable of providing “Low Prices.  Every Day.  On Everything.”  How can you go wrong with a mantra like that?

Parking my car on the outskirts of this kingdom, I realized that I was about to interact with a culture unlike my own.  Stray buggies, trash, and poor people littered the paved grounds.  I extended my sympathies to most of the destitute as roving gangs of fussy children constantly harassed them as they walked to and from their battered vehicles/homes.   I was fortunate not to have drawn this gang’s attention as I quickly walked to the main entrance.

With each step, I found myself more and more uncomfortable as I was apparently overdressed for its citizenry.  I spotted a noble lady in a halter top and nude leggings slowly strolling beside another crowned with pink sponge rollers.  One gentleman in tattered denim shorts and a filthy wife-beater fought back against a gang of fussy children that had targeted him by yelling threats of physical abuse if they didn’t leave him alone.  I avoided eye contact so that my good taste in attire would not be mistaken for self-pride and quickened my pace.

Upon entering through the sliding gate, a creature known as a Greeter welcomed me to their land. This bespectacled and fragile-looking creature had a limited vocabulary as it spoke only, “Welcome to Walmart” or “Can I get a buggy for you?” to some of the people who passed through.  This Greeter creature appeared highly territorial, as it remained within the entrance area without the need for a barrier or leash.  I eventually concluded that it was some sort of centurion keeping post in case the kingdom falls under attack by the more civilized Target or the now-extinct K-Mart.

I have read that the GDP of Walmart exceeds many small countries, so I anticipated lavish landscapes and posh luxuries while strolling the white, industrial-tiled path.  You can imagine my bewilderment when, instead, I stood among towers of bland commerce bathed in florescent lighting.  Where were the fountains?  Where were the walls painted in gold?  Where was the never-present cleaning staff?
Once beyond the Greeter, I wandered among the land of Walmart like a ghost.   Almost all of its citizens never acknowledged my presence. I observed that this breed of human is mostly lethargic and are easily annoyed by its tourism.  Most drag their feet when they walk.  When I was able to garner the attention of a pink-and-blue haired resident, I asked her where I could have keys made.  She replied by throwing her hand up and pointing towards the back of the store.   She made it clear that this was the end of our interaction by continuing to communicate  on her cell phone as she shuffled away.
In the township of Automotive, I stood unnoticed before two residents for more than a minute.  Neither of the gentlemen wandering among the small, fenced-in pasture made eye contact.  I began to wonder if I was trespassing or breaking some sort of native custom until one of the zombie-like citizens in corn rolls acknowledged me by pointing his finger in my direction.Eureka! Contact!My next task was communication.  Unfamiliar with their dialect, I stressed over our possible language barrier until I realized that Walmartians speak mostly through gesture.

Staring at me with head tilted forward
= “Good evening.  Welcome to my land.  How may I assist you, kind sir?

Extending arm, palm up = “It will be my pleasure to make copies of these two keys for you.  I will have them done in just a moment.”

Excited, I replied to him that I appreciated his service by rolling my eyes.

The next evening, I was forced to return to the land of Walmart because the goods prepared by the native “Brandon” (they all wear they citizenship badges on their breast) were defective.  I had trepidations about returning but didn’t want to pass up the opportunity to interact with and study this unusual culture again.  This time, though, I made sure to wear last season’s Banana Republic and Kenneth Cole so as to blend in with their economically deprived environment.  While standing in Automotive, I observed another Walmartian visitor (who did much better blending in with the culture than I with her disheveled hair and frumpy dress) trying to pass a bad check.  As I studied this exchange, another Walmartian from Automotive grunted at me for his attention.  Based on the previous night’s interaction, it seems that the Walmartians are evolving by using language skills.  Unfortunately, this one was unable to articulate, grunting at me in different tones.I returned home to discover that the keys that were remade by the mouth-breather Walmartian still did not work.  Hopefully the next phase of their evolution will include the use of their opposable thumbs.  Until then, I think I will take my needs to Home Depot.

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