Down the Hall on Your Left

This site is a blog about what has been coasting through my consciousness lately. The things I post will be reflections that I see of the world around me. You may not agree with me or like what I say. In either case – you’ll get over it and I can live with it if it makes you unhappy. Please feel free to leave comments if you wish . All postings are: copyright 2014 – 2019

Archive for the category “Wal-Mart”

Throwback Thursday from February 2016 – Wal-Mart Metropolis

Throwback Thursday from February 2016

Wal-Mart Metropolis

 

I WAS WANDERING THROUGH WAL-MART the other day and I was surprised at the number of people in there who looked like Hell warmed over. I’m not talking about the choice of clothing, if you could call it that, but their faces and the look in their eyes.

There is a line from an old Steppenwolf song about a man walking around, “With tombstones in his eyes,” and that’s what I was seeing in the aisles at Wal-Mart.

Maybe it’s a product of the mid-winter blues, or post-holiday letdown, but there were a surprising number of people pushing carts around who looked like they were ten minutes away from either collapsing or going zombie. They looked unfocused and exhausted with a look in their eyes that said, “Why bother.” I found it unsettling.

Not that I’m full of pep and energy, but these folks looked like I should try to recall my CPR training.

What caused this, and is this something new or have I just been out of the loop? It all reminded me of a scene from the classic silent film, “Metropolis,” with the legions of human drones slouching off to their next hopeless day.

I know that the economy is struggling. It is tougher here in Terre Haute (That’s French for, “Try again tomorrow.”) than in a lot of places and that can suck the life out of you. Is that it?

Not everyone in the store looked like that. There were a lot of other people there, dressed the same, filling their carts with the same items, who had Life just beaming from them. Seeing them all, side by side, made the contrast even sharper.

The idea that I was seeing a large number of people who were all stoned on drugs did cross my mind, but this was different. The eyes of the drug user have a certain agitated undertone that I wasn’t seeing in these folks. Here in their eyes there was a veiled weariness. I could almost hear a sigh of surrender.

When faced with bad times, personal tragedy, or a flat and empty future on the horizon some people fold up like a road map. I’m not saying that as a criticism of them, just as an observation. Others, faced with the same set of circumstances, find a steel that keeps them upright and moving forward. I think I was seeing both of these being manifested that morning at Wal-Mart.

Wal-Mart is one of those places, like airports, sidewalk cafes, and sporting events, that is great for people watching. Just stay in one spot long enough and all of humanity will walk past. Unconsciously, I think that I was people watching as I walked through the store and I noticed the little differences in my fellow shoppers as they rolled past. Without urgent destinations or activities covering their facades the masks were down and how they were really feeling came to the surface. I got a peek behind the curtain.

What I’ve put down here is my interpretation of what I saw – or think I saw. Of course, however I might interpret what I saw is filtered through my own thoughts and feelings. Who knows what they thought when they looked into my eyes.

Here I am trying to describe what I saw there that day and it is not easy. At its root it’s a case of trying to describe what isn’t there rather than what is.

Paint me a picture of emptiness.

 

I Can Do This By Myself

I HAVE A BEARD. I have had a beard for most of my adult life. I grew it first for a show while I was in college and, except for short periods, I have kept it.

Over the years I have had it longer, then shorter, then just a goatee, then full tilt boogie again. When I first grew it my beard was dark, now it is white. It gives me that “I have to go feed the reindeer look.”

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“Tranquilizer Darts in Aisle Seven”

I LIVED IN CLEVELAND, OHIO FOR THIRTEEN YEARS, Most of the time I liked it. How could you not like a city that could have a dozen live theaters going on any weekend? Or a city that had a store called “Lottie’s Delicatessen and Bridal Shop?” Or a city that provided the setting for the classic film “Howard the Duck?” Well, one out of three ain’t very good, but it’s better than Newark.

From 1965 until 1978 I was a resident of The Forest City. In Summer it was hot, but bearable. In Winter it was cold, snowy, and unbearable. It was the winter of 1977-78 that had me packing my bags and heading to California.

I’ve only been back once since then. I had trouble finding my way around. There were a lot of changes, very few of them for the good.

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Beep! Beep!

I WOKE UP EARLY THIS MORNING. I’m still wearing my plastic semi-hockey mask to sleep in for a few more days and it’s not all that comfortable – so I was up at the crack of still dark outside.

The local morning news starts at 5:30 AM and, unless there was a big basketball game in the area, there is not much to talk about at that hour.

Today’s headline lead story was about coyotes.

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I’m Good At Being “Arm Candy”

 

IN A WEEK OR SO my wife, the lovely and widely involved, Dawn and I, as we do every year, will attend the annual meeting of the NACCC – or in the fully expanded state- The National Association of Congregational Christian Churches. You can see why we call it the NACCC. It’s either use the abbreviation or allot extra time in your day.

Every year the meeting is held in a different city. In recent years we have gone to Orlando, Omaha, Salt Lake City, and Detroit. You get the idea.

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The Old Soft Shoe

SOMEONE ONCE TOLD ME THAT I’D BE MUCH TALLER if I didn’t have so much folded under for feet. How does one respond to that – short of something rude, crude, and socially unacceptable? All I did say was, “Oh?”

I’m not a big fan of feet. I have two of them myself and neither one is all that aesthetically pleasing. The best I can say about them is that on most days they both reach the ground.

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I Need A New Shirt

THE RAVAGES OF TIME HAVE TAKEN THEIR TOLL ON MY WARDROBE. At least on the part I care the most about – my Hawaiian shirts. The rest of my clothes are there solely to avoid public prosecution, frostbite, and scaring animals and the rest of the population. I do have jeans that have holes in them and shoes that have outlasted their laces, but I cannot allow my Hawaiian shirts to paint me with a colorful deterioration.

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Throwback Thursday from February 2016

Throwback Thursday from February 2016

Wal-Mart Metropolis

Metropolis 3.gif

I WAS WANDERING THROUGH WAL-MART the other day and I was surprised at the number of people in there who looked like Hell warmed over. I’m not talking about the choice of clothing, if you could call it that, but their faces and the look in their eyes.

There is a line from an old Steppenwolf song about a man walking around, “With tombstones in his eyes,” and that’s what I was seeing in the aisles at Wal-Mart.

Maybe it’s a product of the mid-winter blues, or post-holiday letdown, but there were a surprising number of people pushing carts around who looked like they were ten minutes away from either collapsing or going zombie. They looked unfocused and exhausted with a look in their eyes that said, “Why bother.” I found it unsettling.

Not that I’m full of pep and energy, but these folks looked like I should try to recall my CPR training.

Read more…

I Dunno, It Just Happened

pretzel1I’LL BE THE FIRST TO ADMIT IT – I HAVE A BRAIN TO MOUTH DISCONNECT. Something will pop into my head and before I can do anything about it – Boing! It rockets out of my mouth and into play.

It happened again last night, and even though it wasn’t in the best of taste, it was funny.

After dinner, my wife, the lovely and ever tolerant, Dawn, said that we needed to go grocery shopping. I’m all in favor of that because, without it, I’d wither away to a mere shadow of myself. My doctors have suggested that my shadow could use a little whittling down.

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Throwback Thursday – from August 2015

Throwback Thursday1

A New Shiny Object

Parking lotTERRE HAUTE (That’s French for “I hope there is enough parking.”) is a town that loves something – anything, that is new. If you want to create a stir in this town just open a new store or restaurant.

“Build it and mail out coupons and they will come.”

— Paraphrase from “Field of Dreams”

Maybe it is because for many years Terre Haute was just an exit off of I-70 – a place where nothing happened. That seemed to have started changing about twenty five years ago.  The local colleges began to make headlines as innovative and exciting places. New businesses began to come here and my wife, the lovely and inspiring, Dawn, moved here in the late 1980s and it was, “off to the races!”

(I showed up here about 13 years ago and that put the seal of approval on it.) OK….maybe I’m being a bit facetious there, but I still think I helped.

The town is expanding and new growth is bringing jobs and a sense of mild excitement to this old river town.

If you want to turn that mild excitement into something near to frenzy all you need to do is open a new store or place to eat.

Late last year a “Cheddars” restaurant opened up on the south side of town and you would think it was a branch office of Fatima the way the crowds mobbed the place. Nobody was getting cured and tossing away their crutches there, they were just getting some decent chow.

Last month a new “Five Guys Burgers” opened and if you drive past it yet today you would think that it was the site of a gold strike or the discovery of Jimmy Hoffa’s grave.

And now…

Yesterday was the unofficial official grand opening of a new Meijer mega-store with 195,000 square feet of retail delights. That is one honking big store. The “Official” official grand opening is in a couple of days.

I’ve watched them build it as I was on my way to the Wal-Mart that is squatted directly across the street. What a coincidence!

Can you say “Free Market Competition?” I knew you could.

Both of the stores are on the east side of Terre Haute. Up until less than ten years ago that stretch of road was farm land and an onramp to the Interstate. Now it has turned into the hottest property in the area with these two behemoth stores, a Holiday Inn and more construction going on than this town has seen in years.

(Scuttlebutt has it that one parcel of land has had a building permit issued to “Hooters.” That I find hard to believe. Cracker Barrel maybe, but Hooters? Naw.)

Some people don’t like it when these big stores open up. I have no problems with them at all. Increased competition does two main things:

  1. It makes existing stores improve the way they do business.
  2. It makes for lower prices.

New stores also bring jobs. This Meijer store means 270 new jobs according to the morning paper. There isn’t a small town anywhere that wouldn’t welcome that.

It will be a while until I go out there to investigate the new store. Right now the parking lot looks like the world’s largest used car dealership. I figure that after a month or so the glow will have worn off and the crowds will dissipate to a degree and move on to the next new shiny object. By then I’ll be in the market for something or other and I’ll give them the once over.

Until then I think I’ll go out to dinner at Cheddars. It doesn’t seem to be as crowded lately.

For Everything There Is A Season

shirt1I HAVE OFFICIALY RETIRED MY SWEATSHIRTS UNTIL FALL. My colorful array of Pseudo-Hawaiian shirts is taking the field. I call my shirts “Pseudo-Hawaiian” because they’ve never been any closer to Hawaii than the package of Hawaiian Dinner Rolls that shared the shopping cart at Wal-Mart.

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Wal-Mart Metropolis

Metropolis 3.gif

I WAS WANDERING THROUGH WAL-MART the other day and I was surprised at the number of people in there who looked like Hell warmed over. I’m not talking about the choice of clothing, if you could call it that, but their faces and the look in their eyes.

There is a line from an old Steppenwolf song about a man walking around, “With tombstones in his eyes,” and that’s what I was seeing in the aisles at Wal-Mart.

Read more…

I’d Rather Have Green Beans

giphy-6WE RECEIVED A COUPON IN THE MAIL the other day. It came from one of the Mega-Stores – those places that sell everything short of nuclear weapons and reasonably fresh green beans.

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So Much For That Idea

MeijersJUST YESTERDAY I SHOWED FIRM RESOLVE to not go out to the new Mega-store that just opened. I said that I would wait a month or so.

I must amend that timeline to read, “I’ll wait five hours or so….”

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It’s “Lime Green Wednesday”

LEOPARD-AND-DIKDIKI PICKED “LIME GREEN WEDNESDAY” for no particular reason. If Black Friday can have a color, so can this super-duper sale day. If you want to call it something else, go ahead – I won’t object.

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