Saturday, January 31, 2009

You See The Damnest People At Wal-Mart

Howdy, Internet Surfers.  Thanks for coming by.  This post is suddenly wildly popular again and has been linked to the People Of Walmart website (though I think they’ve removed the link section at this point in order to keep up with their sudden popularity). The original rant about the Wasilla Alaska Wal-Mart is here.  Again, thanks for coming by and feel free to comment on this post and to look around Stonekettle Station


You all know what I think of Wal-Mart.

I hate that stinking place.

No, hate is not nearly a strong enough word, loathe is more like it.

I really, really do. I loathe everything about Wal-Mart. And the Wasilla Wal-Mart? Well, there’s just a special kind of booger eating going on in there.

I avoid Wal-Mart like a Republican fundraiser, unfortunately, sometimes I really don’t have any options. I’ve just got to go there. And today was that kind of day. Now, when we do have to go to Wal-Mart, we try to go early on Sunday morning when every Christian Conservative (I.e. 99% of the MatSu population) is over at God’s house getting all holy with the Jebus. We’re usually in, out, and gone before the post-church marathon begins, because as near as I can tell without actually setting foot in a church, the standard Sunday message from the pulpit must be something like, “Jesus commands you to make haste from this place of worship, trampling the slower members of the flock if necessary, and hie thyself to the holy Wal-Mart where you will feast on McDonalds and roam the aisles loudly slurping coffee that tastes just like Pontius Pilate’s ass crack. Amen.”

Unfortunately, I had to go today – Saturday for those of you who are adrift in the time stream and have come unstuck from temporal reality. And even more unfortunately I didn’t get around to going until noon.

Saturday. At Noon. In the Wasilla, Alaska Wal-Mart.

Yep, we arrived precisely at primetime bizarroland hour.

Holy freakin’ crap.

Remember Wright’s Ten Laws Of Stupidity? Yeah, I may have understated those.

First lets start with with the economy. I’m calling Shenanigans on the whole “Recession/Depression” thing. Seriously. Because so far as I can tell, people have plenty of money. Shitloads of money. Every dipshit from Fairbanks to Edmonton was in Wal-Mart today, madly piling their carts high with crap like the Grinch packing his sleigh with stolen Christmas presents in Whoville. If this is what a depression looks like, it’s a wonder any of our grandparents managed to survive the 1930’s without being crushed under a mound of cheap consumer goods from China. It was like a feeding frenzy in there – seriously I thought the bargain DVD bin was going to get ripped apart like a pig carcass tossed into a piranha infested Brazilian river.

Then there was Witch Girl and Vampire Boy. I literally did a double take. No, really, thinking “holy shit, how in the 9th circle of hell did it get to Halloween already and I missed it?” She was dressed all in black, black boots, black skirt, black jacket, dyed black hair, black lipstick, black makeup like the rings around a raccoon's eyes. Black, well, except for the dead white, zombie-like skin – I believe that color is called “Dead In A Water Filled Ditch For Three Weeks White.” He was also dressed all in black, with the addition of a black Rocky Balboa hat and a ratty thin beard. Both looked as if they hadn’t showered in a while, a long while. And did I mention the piercings? I haven’t seen that much chrome outside of a Harley Davidson store since the last Terminator Movie. Speaking of movies, I looked around for the cameras, thinking maybe somebody was filming a sequel to 30 Days of Night.

Next it was The Bush Family. No not that Bush Family, the Alaskan Bush family. For those of you not from around here, the Bush is what we call any part of the state that basically hasn’t advanced past, oh, about 1830 – think Australian Outback with bears and moose instead of kangaroos and wallabies and you’re in the right ballpark. People live out there. Sort of. It sounds romantic I know, a log cabin hewn by your own sweat from the Alaskan wilderness, no electricity, no running water, no phones – just some sort of idyllic Disneyesque paradise free from the constraints of civilization. Reality is somewhat different. No running water and no electricity means no showers. Also, toilet paper is a major novelty. So is soap and toothpaste. So are clean clothes, haircuts, shaving and deodorant. Remember the shit covered peasants from Monty Python and the Holy Grail? Like that, only without the good dental hygiene. Look, I hate to be this way, but damn, you could smell these people from a long, long, way away. Filthy clothes, rancid grease, old sweat, rotten moose meat, and at least one of them had fallen into the outhouse, maybe more than one. There was an entire ecosystem living in Bush Man’s belly length beard, I swear I saw little eyes peeping out at me.

And speaking of that special ass flavor, there was Self Stocker Girl. She was unloading a cart of fresh vegetables. I noticed her because she kept stopping to scratch her ass. No, strike that. “Scratch her ass,” doesn’t properly describe it. She had an itch, way up there, way, way up there. She kept stopping to jab about three fingers far enough up her ass crack to perform a colonoscopy. Dig, dig, scratch, scratch. Then, she’d return to stocking the produce bins. Yeah. Produce. You’re really, really going to want to wash those fresh veggies. Just sayin’. Me, I'm sticking to canned for a while. Thanks.

There were at least four Screaming Babies. Screaming. Red faced. Tantrum throwing. Snot bubbling. Quivering chubby checks. Screaming incoherently. Like Rush Limbaugh on an Oxycontin bender. Maybe they got a whiff of the Bush Family, that sure made me feel cranky.

The coup d'état though, was The Blind Guy. Yeah, yeah, I’m about to go off on a blind guy – you know me, don’t even act surprised. Anyway, there was The Blind Guy. I know he was blind – the cane and the seeing-eye dog were dead giveaways. The dog had a big sign, Please Don’t Pet Me, I’m Working and Visually Impaired Assistance Animal. The reason I mention it was, well, Mr Blind Guy was perusing the gun counter. Allow me to repeat that, the blind guy was examining the handguns. Now obviously, the man had some vision, but seriously here folks – if you need a seeing eye dog, you probably shouldn’t be using a firearm. How does that work exactly? Does the dog do the aiming? Arf Arf, up up, right, no left, Ok … rut roh, no biscuit. Does the Alaska Department of Natural Resource go around and mark each game animal with Braille? Moose. Bear. Tourist. Oh don’t look at me like that (ba dump bump), a blind guy with a seeing eye dog at the gun counter? And I’m supposed to pretend that the jokes don’t just write themselves?

Yeah, Saturday at Wal-Mart, it’s like two-bit carnival freak-show.

What’s strangest creature you’ve ever seen at Wal-Mart?


  1. Walmart at 4am is even more entertaining. ;) Especially with all those people hanging out by the doors and in the parking lot.

  2. I'm with MWT. if you have to go to WalMart (which I refuse to do now we have a Target) the middle of the night is best.

    Your "bush people" remind me of a debate my friend Susan and I once had, over who actually purchased the five gallon tub of lard sold in a local grocery store.

    It was either people who came out of the mountains twice a year, or two men dressed entirely in tight leather and carrying whips.

    I kept on the lookout for the second.

  3. Jim, are you familiar with this David Sedaris classic? Maybe Alaska has something in common with Texas and Michigan?

  4. Very funny Jim. Like your neck of the woods, in our area Wal-Mart has undercut so many we don't have a lot of choices, though I do frequent our local independent Warehouse Club, BJs (seriously, that's the name), because going to Sam's Club would be painting a big "kick me" sign on my ass. And yeah, fresh veggie and Wal mart are not words that should go together, though it seems that our illegal Mexican help around here is a little more hygenic, probably because up to 6 months ago they were growing and picking the stuff and have some respect for it.

    One minor quibble - it's Oxycontin (as in Oxycodone Continuous delivery), not Oxytocin - oxytocin is the hormone that makes women so much easier to live with in the hours after they've had the big "O", and men so much less aggressive after nookie. I highly doubt Rush is getting much of that. :D

  5. I'm trying to find some way to defend the blind guy shopping for a gun and the best I can come up with is that if he only uses it at Wal-Mart, odds are he'll only hit someone who deserves it.

    Also, I don't mean to pick nits, but while "highing" to some specific place probably has its merits, I'm pretty sure the pastor in question was imploring his flock to "hie" there. Just saying.

  6. Funny that you should post this today. I get the heebie-jeebies just thinking about Wal-Mart, and up until Friday had never bought anything at one. I am visiting my cousin in the Poconos (PA version of Appalachia...), and she needed to pick up some groceries on Friday. So I came along with her, and bought a few things. I didn't happen to notice any freakazoids, but I surely be on the lookout should I ever go again...

  7. Noted errors corrected - along with a few more.

    In my defense I had a few when I wrote this - because, Wal-Mart.

  8. Jim, you're killing me!! My sides hurt!

    Now if I can stop laughing/crying to write this. You have to understand, I worked for Kmart for nearly 20 years, and boy does your piece bring back memories...read-nightmares!

    I worked in several stores during my "tenure" - varying from smack in the middle of NW Gawga red-neck country to a touron-loaded store next-door-to-that-freakin'-mouse-house in Central Florida. I have seen it all.

    Over the years I've had TV's thrown at me by pissed off customers, guns/knives drawn on me by shoplifters, had to clean up every type of mess imaginable, the list is endless. AND - why I no longer work in retail.

    I will confess, when I worked at the Kissimmee store next door to Disney, on Friday's we'd get our pay, get off work and head straight for the bar down the street. The managers would wander in and join us as soon as they could.

    See, Epcot Center had just opened and everybody in the WORLD thought they had to come to see it the first year. I mean, they were camping in the Kmart parking lot because the hotels and campgrounds were full. Try pulling up to that vision first thing in the morning, we employees could barely find a spot to park and then we had to roust the campers before the store opened every morning for months. And we saw everything...

    Fact is, Epcot Center is the main reason the Disney empire boomed so suddenly in the mid-80's. Which begat all the crap that is there today. But that's another post for another day.

    Anyhow, Kmart in touron-central is probably much the same as a regional Wal-Mart like yours.

    You have my sympathies. Maybe next time you have to do a non-Sunday run you should do your drinking BEFORE you get to the store. it will be so MUCH more amusing...


  9. I have, thank god, never set foot into a Wal-Mart.

    Dr. Phil

  10. Not to quibble, and not to say that he was one of them, but there are blind people who are fairly decent marksmen with handguns. There are quite a few ways that targets can be made audible (I had several explained to me at the gun range.)

  11. Bwahahahaha! I would probably be considered a subspecies of the "vampire girl" that you described, but far less flamboyant about it. The worse I do any more is black jeans, shirt, and my ratty-ass vinyl trench coat.

    I do know the two you are talking about, though...they are also known to migrate to the Target from time to time, but strangely enough, not the Fred Meyers.

    But yes, I am filled with a LOATHING about that place. I think it was perhaps built on an ancient Tlingit burial ground or something. Any rate, I get "urge to kill RISING" something fierce when I'm there....

  12. Maybe the blind guy was one of the ones that uses the braille keypad at the drive-up ATMs.


  13. With the technologies available blind people can shoot. You have a targeting device on the dog, which transmits data directly into the brain via bluetooth.

    Mind you, most of the blind-eye dogs are Labs with attention span of a goldfish, so you need to be really quick on the draw.

  14. Konstantin, I have to take exception to your scandalous description of Labrador Retrievers' attention spans. They ... oh, hell, I can't. You're right.

  15. Labs are geniuses compare to English Springer Spaniels. We knew a couple of brother puppies who shared a brain cell or two between them. Spent a good part of an hour playing fetch with them. With snowballs. Never could find the snowball in the lawn, but nevermind, they were sure to get the next one. All enthusiasm, no brains.

    Dr. Phil

  16. Jeff, Dr. Phil. I am not putting down Labs. Oh, wait. Yes I am. I was proud owner of a Chocolate monster named (appropriately) Bugsy, who all the way into his dotage believed himself to be a cross between a squirell and a 4 months-old puppy.

    Attention span?! Oh wait, why did I go all the way upstairs? Hold on, if i go down and try to retrace my steps I'll remember. Now, what I am doing downstairs?

  17. why did I go all the way upstairs? Hold on, if i go down and try to retrace my steps I'll remember. Now, what I am doing downstairs?

    Um, that shit happens to me all the time.

    now...what were we talking about?

  18. "What’s strangest creature you’ve ever seen at Wal-Mart?"


  19. Wal-Martians - and with that ScottE wins the Internet for today.

  20. Jim, coming in very late, but I thought this site should help your cold nights in Alaska:


  21. Gennita,

    Yes! Those are the people I'm talking about, right there.

    Thanks, that gave me a laugh!


  22. Hilarious! Your description of Wasilla's Walmart instensifies my regret that I was not a fly on the wall observing Maureen Dowd's visit. Imagining her in that place already tickled my funny bone, but now I realize what she saw was even more surreal than what one finds in the Mid-town Anchorage Walmart (which I hate, avoid; and when I can't, feel like showering as soon as I get home.)

    It warms my heart to know the Wasilla God Squad is forced to be subjected to the presence of vampire-looking Goths. Bless their little hearts for being there.

  23. The less mentioned but equal problem with the type of people found at Walmart is the way the way they operate. The faster you try to get in and out, the bigger slower and fatter the people who park their lazy selves directly in YOUR way. Don't believe me? Have a friend time you. Run in for a candy bar, then run in again for a list of items. Then when your friend tells you the times shoot them for letting you go in there not just once but twice and NOT out of necessity!


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