Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Op-Ed: What's Up With Wal-Mart?

I decided to go to the land of middle class utopia as I heard they were having sales on fish tanks. It is probably considered a social faux-pas but whatever; cheap fish tank is cheap fish tank.

Upon entering the store, the fresh smell of McDonalds hit my nose. Droves of people were in line, buying up their packets of grease and assured health problems. Bellyache in a bag to go, good choice.

As I was being amazed at the length of this line, a cold, clammy hand tugged at my fingers. It was an old lady in a Wal-Mart smock. She was very, very old... perhaps in her upper 70's. "I said welcome to Wal-Mart sonny, can I help you?" said her sweet grandmother voice.

"No, ma'am, that's ok, I'm just shocked about how long a fast food line is in a store that actually sells food."

"Oh, Hi and Welcome to Wal-Mart. Carts are over there if you need one."

I don't think she really was concerned with my response past the word "No."

So I proceeded through the store and came upon the fish section. Now, I'm not a pinko-hippy or the like, but every once in a while I appreciate groups like PETA. For some reason, a Wal-Mart executive decided that untrained employees could properly care for pets and try their hands at petkeeping.

The state of the fish in the tanks in this store was horrible. Scum on the side of the tanks, sick fish gasping for their last breaths, dead fish stuck on the tank filters... cloudy water... just sickness. I could have sworn there was one sickly fish on the side writing saddening memoirs for fish in years to come to stumble upon.

It was as if Nazis had a vendetta against the fish. The poor creatures were suffering. I'd never seen tanks in this state of disarray, on that; I really do hope Wal-Mart gets called for. Does Wal-Mart honestly hate freedom?

This almost made me want to leave the store and not support anything pet-related from it, but the tugs of capitalism forced my eyes to look at the cheapness of the tanks. It was then I witnessed the problem... why Wal-Mart does so many wrong things yet gets away with it. Why Wal-Mart has so much money the government even turns a blind eye... cheap, cheap, cheap.

The executives cut costs so much by hiring old people who will take small salaries, not work full time (thus not getting full benefits), being in cahoots with McDonalds, not hiring specialized workers to take care of the fish...

They are able to sell things for much less than stores running more respectable and specialized operations. If you can get beyond that and buy the cheap product, which apparently millions of Americans do each hour of the day, Wal-Mart benefits big-time. As for this American though, I'd seen enough. The cheap tank price wasn't enough to dissuade me. They were abusing the fish and I didn't want to support their import of more fish to torture by buying a tank.

So I walked on out of their dirt encrusted, fry laden floors to my car and went to Petland.

Why do people continue to support a company that mistreats its employees and squeezes life from local economies? Why does Wal-Mart enjoy having torture camps for fish?


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