Had to make a trip to Walmart this morning so B could spend his birthday money on more useless crap with which to clot our house. That place – it flattens me. Walmart, not our house. Well, our house can sometimes have a depressing effect, too, when it’s dirty and stinky and cold, but it does not smother my soul within a 15 minute visit like Walmart can.
I think the most depressing thing about the place is the Greeter. It’s always an elderly man or woman doing the greeting, and you can tell they’ve just barely woken up enough from a pleasant coma to mutter “Welcome to Walmart” at you before they pass away to the Land Beyond. What happened in their lives that they are spending their few remaining breaths in a hard plastic chair nodding at hoards of Americans desperate for the lowest prices on bathroom rugs, 12-packs of underpants, and economy sized jugs of Hawaiian Punch? Does their family know they’re here? I feel so sorry for these bargain footmen. Like maybe it’s my calling to sweep them up in my arms and replant them in a different sort of garden, one with nurses in starched uniforms who listen carefully to hearts’ desires through pink stethoscopes. Where sweet old dogs carry teacups on their backs in quiet delivery. Where no one looks at you disgusted or annoyed or like you are nothing but an extra-warm pocket of Walmart air.
Of all the jobs in the world I don’t want, Walmart Greeter is the least attractive. I’d rather battle dragons, act as taste tester for the king, or be an accountant. But we do what we have to do, right? I like to think Walmart Greeters are secretly funding their “special” brownie habits, or saving for a trip to the famous naked beaches of Uruguay. Maybe when I am 80, I will find myself sitting sentry in the future equivalent of Walmart, nodding to people in their body transport systems as they enter through the automatic doors. “Welcome to Futuremart” I’ll say. And sneak another nibble of my brownie and bask in the daydream of white sandy beaches.