Monday, November 14, 2005

Wal-Mart Is NOT Part of the Axis of Evil...

...although you could probably find plenty of people, from economists and small retailers to union organizers and wholesalers who might argue the point. Wal-Mart's resemblance to Iraq, North Korea and Syria have more to do with its simmering potential for violence. I hate to say this, folks, but we may have to send in a battalion of troops or weary National Guardsmen to quell a wave of retailing combat that seems to have overtaken America's most obesely successful retailer. It would be best to secure the perimeter before allowing citizens to shop there. The first incident occurred this summer. Allegedly several zealous Wal-mart employees pursued a suspected shoplifter out of the store and into the parking lot. They wrestled the poor fellow to the asphalt. Which probably irritated hordes of circling Wal-mart shoppers seeking a great parking space. After subduing the suspect, the employees apparently "sat" on him until the authorities got there. We wouldn't want anyone escaping the premises with an armful of cheap plastic crap! I guess just getting the guy's license plate number or retrieving the goods was not satisfying enough for the Dukes of Wal-mart. By the time the police arrived to take over from this "citizen's arrest," (or, Enthusiastic Employee Kapture, a.k.a. "EEK!"), the guy wasn't looking so hot. In fact, he was, to use a technical term right out of the employee handbook, "deceased." Turns out the reason the guy would not remain "subdued" on the parking lot pavement is that he had no shirt on, and the pavement was 110 degrees, give or take a third degree burn. So not only was this ex-shopper "dead," he was also "toast," as in "overdone on one side." All from applying excess pressure to this fellow's lung regions. No matter how else you look at it, Wal-mart just lost a customer! But in this war of Retailer vs Consumer, the customers weren't about to let Wal-mart gain the upper hand through intimidation tactics. No! They followed up by opening fire at a completely different Wal-mart, killing two workers. Flak jackets are not currently part of the Wal-mart employee uniform, but perhaps that will change once the full extent of the Customer Insurgency is known. Likely the gunman was just making an aggressive commentary on the store's customer service. I think we can all agree, though, that exercising your second amendment right to bear arms is a clumsy way to exercise your first amendment right to free speech. So what can we do about these customer insurgents, who, we suspect, are being trained and funded by disgruntled retailers such as K-mart, Sears and the Store Formerly Known as Eckerd's? One solution is better armor for those peaceful customers who frequent Wal-mart. The Hummer would be the recommended vehicle for your Saturday morning shopping. Second, I'm thinking we need to dim the lights in the stores. That would provide a more soothing atmosphere, not to mention making it more difficult for sharpshooters to take aim. Third, we need to make the shoplifting experience less lethal. Instead of A) Shooting to kill, or B) Suffocating the suspect between the pavement and the store employees' buttocks, instead we should go for a kinder, gentler approach of perhaps slashing their tires before they escape, or just maybe shocking them into submission with taser technology. They'll thank us later! This raises the issue of the Shoplifting Enigma at Wal-mart. Who, exactly, is harmed by this? Let's start out by examining who is NOT harmed: 1) Founder Sam Walton. He's dead, and therefore beyond economic repercussions. 2) Wal-mart employees. There is no regulation in the employee handbook that says killing the customer is preferable to letting them escape with unpaid-for merchandise. 3) Chinese workers. The will continue churing out the goods no matter what American consumers do or do not purchase. In fact, they may churn out even more if they have to replace shoplifted items. They will still receive their 9 cents per day paycheck. 4) Wal-mart shoppers. What? You're saying we may have to pay MORE for our cheap plastic crap to make up for the pilfered goods? Well, we'll just buy less of it, then. Thus freeing up closet and cupboard space across America. Or we'll buy the stuff at our locally-owned and operated store! Thus creating millions of jobs for Americans. Note: I am not advocating breaking the law. Shoplifting is still morally wrong. I'm just pointing out that it is a victimless crime unless someone gets inadvertently squashed on the pavement. Even more so if they get squashed in a handicapped parking space. I'm thinking, though, that they have a double standard on Matters of Shoplifting. If you'll recall, Runaway Bride Jennifer Wilbanks allegedly is an ex-Walmart shoplifter. She only got fined and had to do community service. No one sat on her! (Although, arguably, she may have outrun them, or simply "vanished" when they tried to apprehend her.) So obviously they have more than one way to deal with cases of suspected shoplifting. I think the next time they have a case like this they should release some kind of chloroform throughout the store. Then as customers pass out they can have their bags inspected by Wal-mart employees wearing masks or chemical weapons gear. See? Didn't you think all along that Wal-mart was hiding Saddam's WMDs?

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