Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Walmart and the State of Southernkind

I’m determined to come back around. I miss blogging for fun, the kinds of quirkier posts I’ve made here until recently. But real life sometimes takes over, especially when you’re an overworked agent and mother and author. So here we go, coming back around with one of my rambling, “just me” posts…

I’m sitting here drinking coffee from my hot pink coffee mug, and I notice it has a big silver logo on it: Aladdin. Why Aladdin? This is someone’s company name, I suppose, but it strikes me that my coffee cup is meant to take me away on a magic carpet. Yet here I am, at my desk, hammering emails out to editors, clients, employees and fellow agents. Just past nine and I have probably sent 50 emails. Just past nine and I find myself wishing, yet again, that I could duplicate myself. Some days I work along, my brain frantically arriving at agenting thoughts and ideas—and writing thoughts and ideas--and I literally crave self-duplication! I want to be more than me so I can do all the things in this lifetime that are out there!

Aladdin, take me away! Aladdin, duplicate my brain and body!

No, I’m not losing it, but neither do I feel that I have to self-edit so much on this blog. An editor asked me recently, “Why do you need two blogs?” I could hear amusement in her voice—slight, but it was there. I had to explain that each blog had its own purpose. The agency blog can’t have my meanderings about coffee mugs or blackberrys or my kids. This one’s for me, a place where I can let it allllll hang out, baby.

And that brings me to Walmart. How, you may ask? Well for about two months I’ve been wanting to pose my Walmart theories here, and haven’t even had time to put it on paper. So here we go. Walmart, I have decided, is the southerner’s hive mind. This fact was confirmed for me yesterday during the tornado warnings when report after report on the television included some person with a BIGTIME Southern accent relaying their tornado sighting in relation to the Great Corporate Obelisk: Walmart. As in, “We was driving over to Walmart to pick up Jimmy, and I looked up, and there it was! A big funnel, just there (thair) in the sky!” Or, “We were there in Walmart, just shopping, and suddenly this man comes over the loudspeaker saying, ‘Code black! Code black! All shoppers and the employees head to the middle of the store!’ And we were in there, and the roof was just ashaking!”

Walmart and its relation to small town America is a novel unto itself. I think especially here in the South, where the appearance of Super Walmart in my town of 3500 people was like the arrival of the first automobile. Everyone converged on the place, and you couldn’t move one aisle without bumping into someone you knew. But it puts me into a brain fog. Too much brightness, too many choices, too narrow aisles. I stumble through there in a fugue state. I should be excited, now that I can purchase and acquire goods without restriction, but I think it just freaks my brain out.

Or, maybe my brain isn’t hardwired for hive-minding. Too bad—I could accomplish a heck of a lot more every day if I could truly brainshare.

Good day.

18 comments:

Diana Peterfreund said...

Walmart and its relation to small town America is a novel unto itself.

You bet. It was called WHERE THE HEART IS. Love that book... ;-)

Jeanne Damoff said...

As a fellow small-town Southerner, I avoid Walmart. And not for altruistic, support-family-businesses reasons so much as for my sanity. Too big. Too crowded. Toooo spread out. If I'm so unfortunate as to need shampoo and bananas it means a couple-mile trek, dodging carts and oblivious, aisle-blocking shoppers who move as though the highlight of their day--yea even month--is comparing prices on toilet paper.

Your account of the tornado reports reminded me of a local friend who grew up in Arkansas. She often delights me with her colloquialisms. When she wants to indicate an abundance of something, she says, "You can't open your cardoor in the Walmart parking lot without hitting a _______."

So, it looks like Walmart has become an icon of our culture. Where's an Aladdin cup when you need one? ;)

Jody W. said...

The Southern town my mom lives in is so small....she has to drive 25 miles and down off the mountain to the nearest WalMart!

She goes every Sunday morning, when the crowds are all at church.

Jaci Burton said...

Super Wal Mart is the devil

*g*

Small town Jaci

Jana J. Hanson said...

I try to avoid Wal-Mart. Although since becoming a mother, I've been shopping at Wal-Mart more and more (cheaper diapers and formula, don't you know).

But I agree with Diana that WHERE THE HEART IS is a wonderful book!

Kendra Clark said...

I have Jody's mom beat. I live in a town where I have to travel 47 miles to the nearest Wal-Mart. And that's not a supercenter. It's just plain old Wal-Mart.

*sighs*

What I don't understand is why they ALWAYS find the MOST Southern accent they can during tornado interviews.

Shannon McKelden said...

We, on the other hand, out in the suburbs, have 2 Walmarts (regular which has a crappy parking lot, and has been remodeled to a Super Walmart, with STILL a crappy parking lot; and another regular with a great parking lot). Both are about 20 minutes from my house. A couple weeks ago, they started clearing a large lot about 10 minutes from my house, and then up goes a sign... Future Home of Walmart. Sheesh! But, I do like Walmart...I just hope it's a Super and has a good parking lot. :)

Anonymous said...

So, who's the guy in the picture???

Deidre Knight said...

Why, Wal-Mart Boy, who else?? :)

Gena Showalter said...

That was my question as well. I'm liken the look of the guy in the pic...

Jaci Burton said...

Clearly we don't have the same kind of Wal-Mart boys in Oklahoma.....

Lynn Daniels said...

Another small town girl, here. When our county got a new Super Wal-Mart, it was a HUGE deal. It replaced our smaller, old Wal-Mart, which, I swear, had to be one of the original stores.

I spend way too much time there. My husband groans out loud when he hears those four words: Goin' to Wal-Mart!

Christa said...

I love Wal-Mart, and I live in a small town in southern New Mexico, but I don't have a bad twangy accent. Wal-Mart does seem to make itself the center of the universe sometimes. Ol' Sam Walton was on to something.

Amie Stuart said...

I agree w/Jaci but I do remember growing up we had to drive 40 minutes (no mountains) to Bowie to go to wal mart. We also only had two grocery stores LOL.

Wendy-Marie (a.k.a. Sydney Gallagher) said...

We've even got Walmart over here in Germany. I went running there when it opened in hopes of actually being able to buy American products. But, except for a 5 dollar box of Betty Crocker cake mix, it's just like every other store here. Man, imagine those interviews with a German accent. Scary!

Angie Gerbing said...

Until I moved to the Gulf Coast of Florida I was unaware that I was a memeber of the family with the anti-Walmart gene.

But there it is. In all it's 'you must have been raised in a Northern city' gene glory. Lurking right next to the 'tree hugger' gene which is down the way from the 'hey, that hair color isn't found in nature maybe I should dye it that color' gene.

But I digress. I don't think that gene will ever mutate. However, I also think that if cute Walmart guy with his little truck were in the parking lot I could be persuaded to at at least make a half hearted attempt to mess with the gene pool. =)

Angie Gerbing said...

I should not attempt to blog, spell, or speak prior to ingesting large amounts of coffee in the A.M.

Memeber? Nice and creative spelling, Ang.

I'm afraid to re-read the rest.

Melani Blazer said...

Ten years ago, I didn't know what Wal-Mart was, now we have a Wal-mart (was a 24 hr Wal-mart for the first five years, but the novelty of going there at 2am for sweat socks wore off, I guess). Now we have a Meier across the street from Wal-Mart. Think Super Walmart competing with regular Wal-Mart, which of course has created the bustle of a zillion mini plaza type stores to turn what used to be a parking lot into a bumper car derby. *sigh* And they're talking of putting in a Super Walmart about three blocks south of where Wal-Mart stands. Oh heck, why not....

(and as I write this I realize, even in our northern/midwestern town, we refer to that shopping district area as "down by Wal-mart")