Ode to Wal-Mart in Daydreaming on the Porch

  • Oct. 15, 2021, 5:22 p.m.
  • |
  • Public

I yield.
I confess.
Although I love the romanticized,
idealized dream
of a small town Main Street,
with the little guy doing business
in his cozy little fortress,
not much happens these days on Main Street.
I do pine away at times
for a past that maybe once was,
but is no more.
However….

So I join the stream of cars,
and head for the garishly jammed,
well-lit, goods-saturated
modern-day
retail emporium
extraordinaire —
Wal-Mart.

I approach the parking lot
and gaze in awe
at a sea of cars.
Inside, acres and acres of shopping;
reduced-priced goods
and everything you need
for bath and kitchen,
home and hearth,
for the daily affairs of life,
that keep me functioning
efficiently and routinely:
the toothpaste, the floss,
the shaving cream and vitamins;
socks, and shirts
and film for my camera;
pens for my journal;
foot cushions for my feet (thanks, Dr. Scholl);
Doritos and chewing gun;
Kleenex and hand towels;
clothes hangers and clothes pins (plastic);
thermos cups for traveling;
envelopes and manilla folders —
everything that makes
my little world of habit and custom,
and of course, necessity,
go smoothly, like a tightly-run ship.

What do have have to show
for this adventure,
this experience,
this fast romp through a veritable hive
of the commonplace, the ordinary,
where are found the comfortingly
familiar things
we buy time and time again.

Life as we know it depends on these little things.
And besides, I get to see and hear
the unkempt and loud and urgent
children and parents,
teenagers and old folks,
let loose, free to buy.
I see a young father
holding a baby in a carrier in one hand,
and disposable diapers in the other.
In the electronics section,
I brace myself for the boom-boom of stereos,
and squeeze between the aisles of people,
some quiet, most in manic pursuit
of this and that.

My goal, first and foremost,
is to find what I want
and get out,
quick, quick as I can.

I have my necessities loaded in my arms,
occasionally falling on the floor
because I can never find a hand cart.
(This is deliberate — they want you to use
a big shopping cart with wheels
so you you can stuff it full
of impulse purchases).

But you know,
even in here
in this retail carnival atmosphere,
if someone walks in front of me,
or seems to block my way,
there’s always a polite,
“Excuse me.”
I’m often surprised to hear it,
for it’s harder to be courteous
when in the midst of a shopping melee
and barely controlled chaos.
(The constant announcements
on the raspy PA system don’t help, either).

“I wanna go home,”
a child exclaims with impatience.
To which the father calmly replies,
“Sure you want to go now.
Now that you have what YOU want.”
This is not a concern to me.
No one to wait
while I dash back up aisle 12
to get that bottle of hair tonic I forgot.

Now I’m standing in the check-out line,
and to my left, a stack of 32-ounze,
plastic Heinze 54 ketchup bottles
on sale for $1.78,
and the two customers in front of me
have snatched up several
at that bargain price.
But I know I’d only waste it.
So I pass.

Soon my cash is forked over,
my purchases paid for,
and I’m out the door
and into the traffic circling the parking lot
and the cool air of an early Spring night,
where I smell only car exhaust
and puffs of Wal-Mart interior air,
which scents the area in front of the store
whenever the automatic sliding glass doors open,
which is often,
and suddenly I can smell popcorn and cheap clothes.
And then I’m gone, and away
from it all,
in traffic once again,
fleeing into the night,
seeking quiet,
finding nobody but myself.

(Written March 5, 2000)


Telstar October 15, 2021

Good entry.

Oswego Telstar ⋅ October 16, 2021

Many thanks! It’s fun to re-read and repost poetry written ages ago! 😌

woman in the moon October 15, 2021

very good. you captured the walmart vibe. I like walmart because they have 'everything' and you'll never pay way too much for anything. i don't think ours have announcements though. I'll have to pay attention next time.

Oswego woman in the moon ⋅ October 16, 2021

Thank you! What I wrote 20 years ago is still accurate, but the store I go to is less crowded these days, and I believe Amazon is the reason. I hardly buy anything, but it is always somewhat of an experience shopping there, particularly since they all have groceries now, and I like their bakery. 😌

mcbee October 16, 2021

Interesting. I call it Hell Mart because my experience with them is very different, but I do use them sometimes because of the prices and availability of lots of various items. Also, in 2000, I would have felt more in agreement with your entry. These days I'm just a grumpy marketplace avoiding introvert. :)

Oswego mcbee ⋅ October 16, 2021

I honestly visit stores like Wal-Mart so seldomly that i can’t sayI’m supporting them. Everything I need that I used to get at Wal-Mart I get at Amazon now. I do try to support small businesses when I can. 😌

Lady of the Bann October 16, 2021

Heinz 54? We have 57.

Oswego Lady of the Bann ⋅ October 17, 2021

Sorry… my mistake Heinz, of course! 😌

MageB October 17, 2021

Insane reality.

Oswego MageB ⋅ October 18, 2021

Less business now at my Wal-Mart. Not as much insanity. It’s mostly a big grocery store now. Everything else and much, much more you can get through Amazon.

Jinn October 26, 2021

I like our Walmart . It’s spacious without being overwhelming. The workers are helpful and the building is clean. They do nice displays of the food . People are polite when they are shopping ; they wear masks and distance . I have never had a problem there . Their prices sometimes are not the cheapest though so I usually go to another discount grocery for meat. It’s cheaper there and the meat is better.

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