The 7 Stages of Walmart Emotion

This is a continuation of my previous blog post entitled “Walmart is the WORST,” which explains the basics of why Walmart* is a real life nightmare. This post walks you through the cycle of emotions you can expect to experience during your Walmart visit.

I’ve noticed an interesting trend since I began shopping at Walmart.  When I first arrive, I’m in a moderately good mood (Point A). By the time I leave, I’m thinking one or more very unpleasant thoughts (Point B). I’ve developed a timeline of sorts to help explain the stages of emotion that take me from Point A to Point B. I imagine you might be able to relate. I present to you The 7 Stages of Walmart Emotion:

Cautiousness: You pull into the parking lot, trying to look in four different directions at once, knowing that at any moment you could be hit by a blind person who doesn’t see those white lines and arrows on the ground. This is most likely going to be a Cadillac Escalade…I don’t think I have to spell out the irony there. After circling a few times, you finally decide to park as far from the front door as possible because you can’t imagine having to make your way through the crowds of people walking in and out of the store one more time. If an accident involving your car and a human were to ever happen, this is where it would take place. Of course this would not be on purpose, but let’s face the facts. When a large group of your average Walmart shoppers and motor vehicles are combined, bad things are bound to happen. I imagine conquering the Walmart parking lot could serve as a defensive driving CLEP test.

Optimism: You’ve parked the car and now it’s time to go inside. Before getting out, you do a mental run through in your head of each department you need to hit. You tell yourself everything is going to be okay. Finally, you enter the store and choose a cart, which is inevitably the one with the squeaky wheels. You don’t even consider getting a new one; the masses are filing in and you don’t want to risk being trampled. Remember when I said you should wear your helmet at Walmart? That recommendation was based on a true story. In case you didn’t hear, someone actually died from being trampled during the Christmas rush a few years ago. Unreal. I guess not everyone is taught the “we don’t walk on people” lesson (along with the “we don’t wear shirts that come up past our belly buttons, especially when we have guts that hang over our similarly ill-fitting shorts” lesson).

Annoyance: You enter the produce section and say hello to the old man blocking the strawberries. Old people love talking to young folk, right? Wrong. He gives you a look like you just killed his puppy and you stand there feeling confused and rejected. You proceed to the bell peppers, reaching for the perfect one, until a mom on a mission swings her cart in front of you. Her toddler waves at you excitedly from the cart and then sneers as if to say “just give me one more year and I’ll be running around this place like a wild banshee!” Now you’re annoyed. You think quickly, narrowing down your list of desired produce to only the necessities so you can get out of there. By the way, this is why you haven’t been eating the recommended daily servings of fruits and vegetables.

Frustration: You make your way through the next few aisles, trying to battle the many shopping carts and people who never learned that in America you should walk like you drive- on the right. Then again, these are the people referred to earlier who are out in the parking lot causing mayhem. On top of dealing with the cart traffic jams, you now realize that the French fried onions you need for this weekend’s casserole are no longer on aisle 8. You look through the surrounding aisles, unable to find them. You know good and well there is no way you’ll be able to find a Walmart associate to assist you. Now you realize you’ll be making a trip to a normal grocery store afterwards. Awesome.

Anger: You’ve been in the store for awhile now. You’re almost done, but there are a few stragglers on your grocery list that you have to track down. You can see the light at the end of the tunnel. Now it’s a race to the finish line. You head toward the back to pick up some assorted dairy products. You feel incredible pressure to grab the milk from the refrigerator as quickly as possible, as there are people vultures waiting to snatch up your refrigerator door the second you put your hand on the milk carton. You want to scream “get back you animals!” You’re a kind soul, so you refrain. Instead, you walk back to your cart, head down, determined not to have your first fist fight in such an establishment over something so petty. After all, there’s no sense in fighting over non-spilled milk.

Despair: You’ve made your rounds and have gotten everything you needed. You head toward the front to get in line. There are 24 lines and the lights are on at 3 of them. You try to use strategy to determine which line will be fastest, but then decide you’re wasting time and just pick one. This, of course, ends up being the slowest-moving line, mostly because the cashier won’t quit telling the customer at the register about how bad her feet hurt from working for two hours straight. You’re beyond tired and on edge, to say the least. You just want this to be done with this non-sense so you can go home and make your homemade brownies that call for several types of…sugar. SUGAR!! You forgot the sugar! How?! Why?! You desperately need that sugar, but how will you get it? You’re next in line and the person in front of you only has three bags of Cheetos and two cases of beer left on the conveyor belt. There’s no time. And even if there were time, would it be worth it? It’s so far away. You think of all the people you would have to encounter along the way. It’s over, there’s simply no hope left. You will not be having brownies tonight. Your heart sinks.

The Hulk stage (AKA “The Rage Stage”): It’s important to note that this stage is rare. When it does occur, it usually surfaces after the Anger stage, although it can happen at any time during your shopping experience. In this stage, you are unable to control yourself any longer. You are a camel and the Walmart straw has just broken your back. You know you shouldn’t be rude to strangers, but you’re not in your right mind. You morph into a beast, crashing into other peoples’ carts, cutting them off as they try to exit the next aisle, glaring with all your might. You do this while sweating uncontrollably and possibly drooling a bit, which, FYI, is normal for a transformation of this type. You start huffing and puffing, asking quite loudly “does anyone even WORK here!?” Once you get to the counter, the cashier starts telling you about her pet fish or the new Timex her boyfriend got her, or something equally unrelated to cashiering. You try to keep your mouth shut since this person hasn’t directly caused your anger. But then, you can’t help yourself. Out of obligation, she asks you if your shopping experience was positive today. You respond with a voice containing sarcasm and pure evil: “Uhhh….yeah…I guess.” If you find yourself entering this stage, I suggest saying a few “serenity now’s” and exiting swiftly. Remember- if you lash out and get arrested at a Walmart, you are now considered one of them. There’s no turning back at that point. You will have lost all dignity. Soon, you’ll probably find yourself wearing cut-off shorts and telling your barber that you want the most stylin’ mullet in town. Trust me, this isn’t going to be good for anybody.

*Did you know that “Wal-Mart” is the proper spelling when referring to corporate, while “Walmart” refers to the actual stores? Thanks, Google.

Walmart is the WORST

If you have ever set foot inside a Walmart store, this blog is for you. You will almost certainly fit into one of two categories:

Category 1: You love visiting your local Walmart and have at least one noticeable hygienic issue

Category 2: You have a brain and Walmart’s only purpose is to help you save money

If you don’t mind, I would like to take a moment to speak to the people in Category 1 before proceeding. Category 1 friends, as much as I appreciate you taking the time to read this, I don’t want to get your hopes up. You will not enjoy this blog. This isn’t because I’ll be calling you out for the asinine behavior you or your cohorts participate in, but because you won’t understand anything I’m saying. You and I are not on the same wave length. I don’t get you and you don’t get me. However, if you would like to assist in bettering the world, please continue reading. Even if you don’t see the humor, you might learn something. Let’s continue.

When I was little, I loved going to the grocery store. I believe this was partly attributable to the ultimate soccer mom within me. But there was another important reason, of which I didn’t appreciate until I was much older. I enjoyed grocery shopping because it was not at Walmart. In fact, we didn’t even get a Walmart in Anchorage until 1993, just a few years before we moved to Texas. I always had a good time at the store. I knew that place like the back of my hand. I could help my parents shop with ease, frolicking through the aisles, throwing bags of candy into the cart just as they turned their heads to look the other way. It was a wholesome place. With the exception of that one time I saw people French kissing for the first time, I never left with a colossal sense of bewilderment. This place was nothing like Walmart.

There is only one reason I shop at Walmart: I’m cheap. Actually, that’s not an accurate statement. I’m not that cheap, I just can’t justify spending outrageous sums of money on staples that I’m going to consume rapidly and repeatedly.

Would you buy a car from a dealership full of normal people when you can cross the street and get the exact same car for less money at the dealership full of morons? No, you would not. You would suck it up for the sake of your bank account. Now, there are certainly times when I’ll pay more for quality, but they don’t exactly make low-, mid- and high-quality grade Special-K cereal. It’s all the same.

I suppose there are a few added bonuses, like not having to shower, wear make-up or shave your legs to go to these stores. Each trip usually provides a decent ego-boost as well, which is saying a lot if you haven’t done the three things I just mentioned. Coming here will also make you appreciate the finer shopping establishments. Maybe all the other stores in America formed a coalition years ago in which they created Walmart to drive the crazies away and make themselves look better. Granted, this would not have been a smart move business-wise, but surely it would have helped the store owners maintain their sanity. Speaking of, let’s talk about the people at Walmart.

The People

Do you ever feel like you’re the only person who notices something happening around you? That’s how I feel almost every time I go to Walmart. I often catch myself saying “seriously?!” under my breath or above my breath, depending on my level of frustration, which is directly correlated to the amount of time I’ve been within 150 feet of the store (I have no idea how far that is).

I seem to lose faith in mankind a little more each time I go. Have you ever seen the movie “Idiocracy?” If you haven’t, you should. Actually, just watch the first ten minutes of it. It explains how society is becoming less intelligent with each generation. I couldn’t agree more. The main premise of this theory is that intelligent people don’t reproduce as quickly as less intelligent people do. The intelligent people tend to spend the majority of their reproductive years going to college and focusing on their careers. When they do have children, they tend to have 1-3. Less intelligent people, on the other hand, often begin their baby-making activities just out of high school and continue having children for years, mostly because they don’t seem to have access to adequate birth control. Now, if this were to occur for just a single generation, that would be one thing. But when you consider the fact that the less intelligent people are having more children and at a much younger age across several generations, their population grows at an exponential rate. Meanwhile, the intelligent people are beginning to have less and less children overall, as many of them believe that having kids is no longer a “must.” I say all this to support my feeling that I am completely out-numbered when I go to Walmart…and it’s getting worse.

I think the government is on to this as well. I think they might be performing research to determine the effects of stupidity of the masses on individuals. You know the security cameras attached to the ceiling? Those aren’t just to catch thieves. Those are used by the government to analyze humans’ behavior when pushed to their limits. It’s similar to a giant rat maze, except this one has many other mice walking around (including the mice that have limited brain power due to a few experiments gone wrong). They’re trying to see what the mice (people) will do when they feel trapped in a terrible, terrible place. Will the mice find their way out? Will they start carrying mace (we’ll call this “Mouse Mace”) out of fear for their own lives?

Sometimes I wonder if I’m the crazy one, because nobody else in the store seems to be experiencing the heartache that I am. Since I’m so nice, I’m always sure to apologize if I accidentally cut in front of someone or realize that I’m blocking them while making some important price comparisons. When I do this, most of the time I receive no acknowledgement of the apology whatsoever. I don’t know if they can’t hear me or if they’re just that unaware. Perhaps they don’t speak English, I don’t know. Not too long ago I was stocking up on canned goods and dropped a can of corn on my foot. This hurt bad. I screamed a faint scream, but to my amazement, nobody even looked my way. This got me thinking…what would happen if I had a serious medical problem while grocery shopping? Chances are I would lay there unconscious, face down in my cart for days because nobody would think it odd to see such a thing. This fear (among many other fears) supports my belief that I need Life Alert.

And then there’s the cart situation. If you want to know why our country is having economic issues, just pull into a Walmart parking lot and watch the activity. The people leave the store, walk to their car, unload the groceries and make the decision to leave their cart anywhere except the cart corral.* And why would they bother to take the 7 seconds to walk 15 feet to put the cart where it belongs? Someone else will take care of it eventually. It’s not their problem. Sure, the cart may roll into someone else’s car and leave an unsightly dent, but again, they won’t have to deal with this because they will have already fled the scene by the time the owner returns.

Last winter, my roommate and I made a trip to Walmart. It was cold and stormy outside. We weren’t happy about being there, but we were nearing starvation and couldn’t put it off any longer. When we arrived, it was so windy that carts were rolling through the parking lot unattended, as if there were ghosts running around having cart races (this would totally happen at Hogwarts). They were everywhere! So, instead of going straight into the store, the two of us spent time chasing these carts down to prevent them from causing further damage. Luckily neither of us had any big plans that night, because we both looked like wet dogs by the time we were finished with our little adventure. I couldn’t believe this many people could be so irresponsible. Wamart must agree, because they’ve put enough cart corrals at each store to facilitate a very quick and easy drop-off. I suppose the smallest possible amount of responsibility is just too much work for some people.

There’s a website that was launched a few years ago called http://peopleofwalmart.com/photos. This is a site that showcases the oddities within Walmart stores, captured by everyday people and their camera phones. The pictures highlight the insanity of Walmart shoppers. If you want a good laugh, check it out. Make sure to focus on the “photos” section. Be prepared to douse your eyes with bleach, as there are some unsavory images (many of these people don’t understand the concept of public decency).

Disclaimer: This site was fantastic when it first began. The last few times I’ve checked it, it wasn’t quite as funny anymore. I think they started letting the people who submit the pictures write the captions as well. I’m sure the founders did this because they couldn’t keep up with the inflow of pictures. Understandable, I suppose. Anyway, if you visit the site, focus on the pictures rather than the captions.

The following picture is a prime example of why I have nothing in common with the average Walmart shopper:

So sad.

Walmart is pretty much a comedian’s paradise. This is the real-life version of reality TV. You can’t ask for better material. All you have to do is take a seat and watch (they don’t have chairs so just find a spot on the floor, nobody will care). Just observing the things people wear, say and do in this store for one hour is enough to make you think about the future of society for the rest of your life. Just the other day, I was passing the salty snack aisle, when I turned my head and saw a man reaching up to catch his daughter who was jumping off the shelf into his arms. Why?? Can’t kids amuse themselves by sitting in the cart with a toy in hand like they did in the olden days? The funny thing about this story is that I’m pretty sure the man put his daughter on the shelf to begin with. She looked too little to have been able to climb up there by herself.

I think the question I would most like to ask some of these people is “why don’t you make your children wear clothing in public?” I know that most kids don’t love wearing clothes, especially when it’s 100 degrees outside, but they should not have a choice outside of the home. Obviously this is not aimed at those with financial difficulties who truly cannot afford clothing. This is directed at the parents who are buying beer and cigarettes, but can’t seem to walk over to the clothing section and pick up a shirt that costs $6 (or less if the prices are falling that day). This brings me to my next topic: the products.

The Products

There are a few things I will not buy at Walmart, most important of which is the clothing. This isn’t because I’m a snob and have to have the best of the best. To the contrary- I was not blessed with fashion sense and don’t care about style all that much. The reason I refuse to buy their clothes is because they are so poorly made. When you’re paying so little, you can’t expect quality. However, the people designing these garments seem to be aiming to produce the ugliest, most horribly cut clothing ever. I used to browse the clothing aisles to see if anything would catch my eye (mostly workout clothes, pajamas and socks- never work clothes). I would try on a few things, always amazed by how horribly they fit. I mean, these designers have to be going out of their way to make sure you don’t like their products. Obviously you can’t try on socks before purchasing, so on several occasions I have bought a package, only to get home, try them on and be shocked that it’s possible to mess up socks. I now purchase all socks from Target. They really know how to make a good sock.

The Management

The quality of your Walmart experience is highly dependent upon which store you visit. There are three classes of Walmart stores: decent, barely acceptable and ghetto. When I lived with my parents after college, I was fortunate to have two decent Walmarts within a 5-mile radius to choose from. When I bought my house, my choices became barely acceptable and ghetto. On one of my Walmart shopping trips a few months ago at the ghetto store, I became concerned about the apparent coffee creamer shortage in this country. I spent considerable time trying to find the kind I wanted, while some lady kept telling me there’s plenty of French Vanilla in the store room, you just have to ask the stock guy in the back for it by screaming through the refrigerator at them. I appreciated her help, but I do not believe in flavored creamer. Finally I found the one remaining bottle of the Original and left. Then, last week I visited the barely acceptable store and to my amazement, I ran into the same problem. Except this time, I wasn’t able to find a bottle of the Original. No, I had no choice but to purchase something far inferior: the low-fat version of the Original.

Inferior product.

I enjoy my creamer with full fat, thank you. This is when I realized there was not a shortage like I had first suspected. This was a management issue. How do you run out of creamer? How?? I guess that doesn’t really matter. All I know is that I’ll have to drink disgusting coffee for the next few weeks. Thanks a lot, Walmart.

You know why else Walmart management is terrible? The lines. Yeah, you know what I’m talking about. They have all these lines set up, equipped with cash registers and bagging systems, yet there aren’t any people manning these lines. Oh, that’s cool, I’ll just stand here for 25 minutes, praying that the person behind me in line doesn’t try to spark up a conversation about my purchases, which will really just be a ruse to get me to listen to their life story, which will include details even I don’t think I could make up.

As you’ve probably noticed, this post was a bit longer than most. Walmart is a hot-button issue for me. So, I’m not done. If you would like to see the rest of my thoughts on the subject, read my next post entitled “The 7 Stages of Walmart Emotion.” Sometime I’ll also tell you about one of the worst decisions of my life, which happened to be centered around Walmart.

*I couldn’t figure out what these are called, so I went with the first decent answer that popped up when Googling “shopping cart holder.”