Friday, December 24, 2010


I have a confession, which shouldn't be too difficult to guess as evidenced by the title of this post. I have officially shopped at Wal-Mart.

Against every cell in my body in our first weeks in Beckley, I made the leap and have made two successful shopping trips to Wal-Mart where, not much to my surprise, I found everything I needed (except leeks in the produce section) at a convenient and low price - just as promised.

  • Canisters for sugar & flour - ah, that's what wedding gifts are for!
  • Heavy duty curtain to hang at the back door to catch some of the cold draft
  • Rugs to soak up the snow and mask the cigarette burns on the carpet
  • Shower curtain
  • Trash can for the kitchen - still looking for one to fit the bathroom
  • Silverware - another wedding gift "Ah Ha!" moment
  • Etc.
  • Etc.
It was, in all honesty, a GREAT shopping experience. With Yael in tow we didn't have to shift from store to store, in and out of the car seat, unzip and zip her amazingly cute snowsuit, or even have to engage in the parking challenge over and over and over again. I see how Wal-Mart gets people.

When I was in high school my girlfriend Alissa shared one afternoon, after a trip to Meijer, how great it would be if Meijer would be able to provide and sell everything you need PLUS have a number of flights of condos stacked above it so, if needed, you would never have to leave comfort to get everything you needed. We were in high school then - before we could dissect all that is inherently wrong with this plan. For two naive 10 graders from Eaton Rapids, MI it sounded like a sure-fire money-maker. A way to continue to ease into convenience and comfort. Aside from the condos, Wal-Mart pretty much does this. Wal-Mart provides almost everything one individual born and raised in Beckley may want as well as provide a way to avoid the daily challenges of life and streamline the daily hassles.

I get this. Life is hard here - and I mostly know this through my visits to Wal-Mart, a social hub of Beckley. Jake & I have joked many times already that I get my social needs fixed from going to Wal-Mart. It's true. People fawn over Yael. Men and women, with great frequency, share stories about their kids and grand-kids and how they have all grown up and in some cases moved away. One elderly woman shared, "Aren't they so precious at this age. Enjoy it cause when they grow up they will leave you and never come back." An elderly man admitted, "If I had an opportunity to have kids again there is no way I would - too much in this world to take their joy away." Another man confessed, "I wouldn't have kids in these ages, there's no way they are going to have a good life." All sharing these intimate stories as they touch Yael's hands, grabbing her toes, sharing how beautiful she is and how lucky my husband and I have become.

I often read blogs of idealistic life. Country & markets. Homemade & handmade. Fabrics & crafts. Homeschooling & unschooling. I have batted around with how to even make our blog more up-lifting in this manner - give it a little bit more spirit, lighten it up a bit. But I have come to accept that this is not how I'm bent. I'm bent to listen to the stories of the men & women who shop at Wal-Mart. I'm bent to truly hear their stories and carry them with me. I'm bent with the need to share them, their hurts and joys if only to raise my awareness of the many more who share this same trajectory of life.

Born into a rural community, married and/or divorced with kids, blue-collar employment, loss through the trails of poverty, often experiencing life the best they know how with the limited education available. And yet, one thing bring them together - shopping at Wal-Mart. Because this one thing in life, shopping, can be easy. Although it may not be the most ethical choice nor the most educated option - it is easy. And when your kids have left you, regrets run amuck in our memory and your worldview is limited and full or sorrow, such deep sorrow that you're willing to share it, pass it along to a complete stranger - an easy visit to Wal-Mart may possibly ease life's pains a bit more, just for today.

A memorial decal adorns a truck sitting in a parking lot of a Wal-Mart in Beckley, W. Va.
Thank you Washington Post

So although my conscious just won't allow me to become a frequent patron of Wal-Mart, I believe I have much to learn, simply from my two visits there.

And no, I still haven't found a trashcan that will fit into our bathroom.


Robin said...

Love to you and your family!

Anonymous said...

I love this post regarding everything Wal-mart. I can relate to this store becoming a social hub for the community.
Even in High School living in a rural community Wal-mart was the place to go on Friday and Saturday nights as a teen.
As an adult I do wish I was not "sucked" into the big corporate owned grocery to purchase all my needs, but it seems to be the way of things.