In two days I will relinquish my position at my local [sic], friendly [sic] Wal-Mart. I went in three days a week and pushed carts. I met some silly people during this journey. Here are some people you meet in a Wal-Mart parking lot.
Squatters– Most Wal-Mart parking lots are massive. If you find yourself in one often, look to the far-off corners of the lot, where no one chooses to park. This is where the squatters squat. There may be two or three cars that always sit there, forming their own community under the yellow asterisk. One guy lived in the lot from October 2012 to the summer of 2014. He was tall with long greasy hair and a mustache that lead us to believe that he was a close relative of Ron Jeremy. If they don’t have cars, they seem to descend from the mountains. One time, coming out of the morning sunlight, I saw a dude that might have been Jesus Christ for a few consecutive weekends. He definitely smelled like how I imagine JC would.
Dead People– Okay, so not actual dead people. Old people, who live on their own when they probably shouldn’t, need to shop too. Shopping at Wal-Mart, a store that covers a few football fields, will tire out the fittest. And so before they leave they will take a cat-nap in their running car. Every old person sleeps the same, flat on their back with their drooping faces and their mouth agape, as if rehearsing their inevitable viewing. It’s up for people like me to rap their window to see if they’ll respond, and I always crossed my fingers that my knocking wouldn’t give them a coronary.
People Who Lack Spatial Skills– Occasionally, cart pushers get called for carry-outs, where we’ll help someone load something large like a TV or a recliner into their car. Some people drive big SUVs or trucks and are well prepared for loading something large. Other people either overestimate how big their cars are or underestimate how large their purchase is, and I’m left scratching my head as to how we’ll fit a futon inside the trunk of a Smart Car.
Cokeheads- I would see numerous people, most of them Hispanic, leave the store with carts (yes, plural) filled with two liter bottles of Coca-Cola. These are people who will not tolerate the words “Is Pepsi okay?”
Police– I believe it’s a requirement that the local police have to make hourly rounds at Wal-Mart to chase away people that park in fire lanes and settle domestic disputes that, while the store itself doesn’t directly cause the dispute, it definitely fuels it to the point of police intervention.
Cart Pushers– In February 2014, I accepted a position as a cart pusher. At the same time, HR had hired another person for the same position. This man walked in with a cane and a visible limp, hobbled into a chair, where an interviewer looked him dead in the eye and said something along the lines of “You know what job would be great for you, man-who-can’t-walk-without-assistance? A job that requires you to walk thirteen miles a shift.” He was fired in three months.
Another cart dude saw a cart full of merchandise and a family loading said merchandise into their car. In a gesture of good will, he helped load their merchandise…into his own car. He was fired on the spot. He lasted a little over a year.
The cart pusher they hired to replace the thief had the face of a Family Guy character. He harassed multiple female cashiers. He disappeared around the 4th of July. He later popped up in the local newspaper. He was arrested for masturbating in public near the city’s center on a Friday night.
With all the bad here, I should stress that just about all the cart pushers I worked with are honest people. The people mentioned above are simply the ones that fell through the cracks.
Families– There’s something about taking the whole family to do menial tasks, something that sucks the joy out of the family. You’ll see them walk in, their perky smiles and their hyperactive children bouncing around them like puppies. They have a whole day planned. Maybe they’re going to Chuck E Cheese after or for a slice of pizza or scoop of ice cream. At some point, maybe in the third go around of the frozen food, or maybe the parents made a mistake and let the kids too close to the electronics section. Something happens to the family that has the kids screaming at the parents, parents at kids, then the kids scream at each other until finally the parents make a quick stop at the divorce lawyers before getting ice cream.
Conclusion– Wal-Mart is a sociologist’s goldmine. I look forward to viewing it as an outsider.