Memories of Walmart

After graduating at eighteen years of age, I secured a summer position at my local Wal-Mart back in the fabric and crafts section. The day I started, my supervisor led me around all the isles, showing me everything that I'd have to obsessively "zone" for the rest of my summer: threads, paints, fake flowers, potpourri, glass drops, stitch witch, hodge podge, floral foam--you name it, I zoned it.

Funny enough, the department next to mine was sporting goods, which basically meant: killing center. Back in the day, Wal-Mart had actual guns and knives and almost any old joe and his kid could go back there and by every weapon known to man, then waltz through fabrics and look at some camouflage--on sale for $ 1.99 a yard. It was my job to take the huge spool of fabric, lay it across the table and cut out sections for patrons. A boring job, and yet . . . it gave me some sort of freedom being back there in the spine of old Wally World. With my long goth black hair and all black outfits, sans socks, I ruled the craft coven of Olathe, Ks. You wanted something crafty- you had to answer to me. Well, I probably would have sputtered something about the Beatles and Bob Dylan, if asked. Or how my guitar needed new strings. Or how Brian--the stock boy--looked just like Paul McCartney--and I was going to give him a love note that night after work. Sigh. That one didn't work out. Neither did Wal-Mart.

Retail and love don't mix, however, life and retail are good friends. I learned a lot back there in craps and frantics--as I loved to call it. I learned that people are strange and life is funny. There's a character in all of is, and even the most mundane things can bring out some sort of inspiration. All of life, like a simple cell of yeast, can feed on the meager surroundings of a scrappy local Wal-Mart; grow, form, die, and then come back to regenerate. A lonely teen-ager singing Lennon lyrics in her head can be so much more than the girl handing you your fabric scraps. The story she holds, meeting the story you possess yourself, are much more than just . . . retail.


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