Every time I shop at Walmart I have this thought. It hits me square in the face somewhere about the chip aisle, which seems to be crammed with carts and vendors stocking shelves. Someone’s unhappy baby begins to wail somewhere in the store. The child’s blood-curdling screams echo throughout the fluorescent lighted warehouse-like box. If I’m able to maneuver my way through the people and carts to the chips I think I’m after, I find that they’ve been stuffed into too small shelves for the oversized bags, leaving the chips mangled and only half filling the air-puffed bag.
If I have any energy left by the time I wind up in the produce section, things are worse. It’s nearly impossible to maneuver a laden cart in any direction without either running into someone or being in someone’s way… blocking them from the clear plastic bags on rolls above our heads in only a couple of places, or hindering them from getting to the carrots. If I’m able to make my way to the apples, to get a bag of Galas (my husband’s favorite) I try examining them through the plastic to see if they appear bruised or old. It isn’t until I get home (having gotten my day’s exercise just unloading) and hubby slices one open, finding that the hard won sack of apples is rotten on the inside, while looking perfect on the outside.
I forget all of this, it seems, by the time I need to go shopping again. No. Check that. I do not forget. I block it out of my mind in an effort to be frugal, to save a few pennies, or dollars, as the case may be. I’m back at Walmart within a week thinking–I was not made for this!
What I dream I was made for is an outdoor market, preferably in France, where stalls of fresh produce are lovingly and beautifully displayed by the very ones who harvested the veggies and fruits. Even fresh meats and flowers can be procured while the sun kisses my shoulders, “bonjours” are peppered along the way, “petits bises” exchanged when I see friends who are also filling their non-plastic bags with beautiful goodies to eat that day. A baby’s cries (sure to happen in the hustle and bustle of an outdoor market), would not grate on one’s last nerve, but would rather add that je ne sais quoi to the morning’s procurements.
No matter that I wouldn’t be able to get the TP or the shampoo in a french outdoor market. I’d have to find that elsewhere (perhaps a store not so huge and overwhelming as Walmart.) The daily trip to market would be more in keeping with my sensibilities as well as my inability to buy enough food to last an entire week. I could think only about the day’s meals and what is needed; then go again the next day to greet my favorite butcher, fruit and veggie vendors.
The only thing here in my american town that comes close to this ideal of mine (other than our Farmer’s Markets, which I adore) is Harris Teeter. I do so enjoy shopping there when I can’t muster the courage or energy for Walmart. I know I’m paying more pennies (dollars even) for a prettier fluorescent lighting, an attractive produce area with better, fresher produce, an awesome bread stand, and even TP and shampoo in nicely arranged shelves. Though I rarely visit it, the Starbucks inside gives a lovely aroma to the shopping experience and sometimes offers samples, which is awesome after sampling the breads and spreads and cheeses and cookies Harris Teeter offers throughout the store. I also run into friends on occasion which furthers the local market feel, even if we don’t exchange kisses on our cheeks. I think H. T. probably knows all this and works to create this environment for those of us who grow weary of the cattle call experience at Walmart.
Some days I think the extra pennies or dollars are worth it!! Other days I feel guilty allowing myself the pleasure of shopping there, and so I’m back at Wally World, screaming on the inside in tune with that baby–“I was not made for this!”