Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Back to School at Wal-Mart

Back to School sales have always triggered an acute episode of depression and dread within me. They remind me that summer will be ending some day. That's what hit me when I walked into my local Wal-Mart today. It's effen July 14. It's less than three weeks into the season. Yet I see full displays of Elmer's School Glue, compasses with sharp points, gel pens, giant erasers, spiral notebooks, and other supplies for the classroom that will be banned by most teachers from day one. Summarily: school glue (kids pour it on their palm, let it dry, and peel it off the fine layer of an imprint of their skin; compasses (sharp object, duh?), gel pens (especially pink, tend to bleed on cheap-assed school paper, and are hard on teacher's eyes) ; big erasers (big hole in paper, guaranteed), spiral notebooks (devices of evil constructed out of wire, shreds of paper all over creation, and maned edges of paper lock together when stacked).

These are great deals for adults who do not have access to a bounty of free office supplies from their job site, but for parents lacking shopping savvy or held captive to the desires of their children, it's a big waste of money. The wise wait until registration when the teacher provides a list of required (and sensible) supplies. Which, come to think of it, is within three weeks in these parts. School opens August 2. I guess not too many Indiana children are needed to harvest the corn crop. So, my shock at seeing this crap on the shelves in mid-July shouldn't have stunned me.

What did stun me was the condition of said displays at this particular Wal-Mart. It looked like someone spilled a giant box of Lucky Charms all over the front of the store. Bulk school supplies spilled from various bins and boxes had formed a sea of pink, blue, pink, yellow, red, green, pink, pink, purple, turquoise, and pink. Newly packaged objects mixed with broken and / or unpacked objects. The few survivors wading through the area were filling their carts indiscriminately. While one parent was hollering across a mound of pocket folders to ask her little Boo Boo what he needed, he was tossing stuff in the cart that he wanted. A clerk was failing in his attempt to restock the displays as some were picking merchandise right off his flat wagon.

OK, maybe I mostly made most of this up exaggerate a bit. But the store is a mess. I went it looking for mounting putty that is usually found right where the sale was happening. Going back an aisle or two, hoping that the putty was just moved for the occasion, I walked into a clearance sale that was going on. That's four rows of absolute junk that Wal-Mart shoppers have rummaged through for the past few months. There was no apparent system to the placement of these items. If there was, a complex system that only Stephen Hawking could grasp was used. How could a single washcloth relate to a a partially open package of 240 grain sand paper or a pack of birthday candles?

Wal-Mart gives me the willies anyway, but today was particularly distressing. Frustration in not finding mounting putty, facing the fact that summer does not last forever, and that not everyone is as neat and orderly as me, presented a three-headed beast that sent me away in a quivering mass of anxiety.

1 comment:

TMC said...

i go to walmart only for prescriptions. i wish the pharmacy was open in the wee hours. i'd go then and maybe not feel so molested.