Walmart vs Golden Corral
Walmart vs Golden Corral
Unless you got buried beneath a snow drift two days before the great snowpocalypse, you’ve, no doubt, seen the viral video and listened to news personalities interpreting the events at a Bensalem, Pennsylvania Golden Corral. Apparently, the cause of the great crisis was a single person butting into the line for steak and then, complaining about the steak he was offered. Words were exchanged, followed by fist-to-face greetings, followed by full-on WWF slamming of chairs on heads and a 40-person riot. What I unhappily did not see (and I scoured all the videos closely) was the throwing of any pies. I really wanted to see pies-a-flying.
So, the universal question over this is, “What the Hell has our society come to?” Our esteemed brethren in the head-shrinking industry will attribute it to fear — fear of COVID, fear of the Russians, fear of the Chinese, fear of the Republicans, fear of the Democrats, fear of the Baptists, fear of the Atheists, fear of the homeless, fear of the top 1% — undefined and unresolved fear which inevitably leads to anger which inevitably leads to a 40-person riot over “rare” vs “medium rare”. Our brothers of the cloth will tell us it’s a sign of the general fallen nature of man. Our Marxian pals on the left will tell us it’s the degenerate nature of humanity caused by social greed being tattooed onto the souls of otherwise honorable individuals. Our brethren on the right will tell us its a lack of respect for law and order due to a lack of law enforcement.
I don’t know what the specific cause is, although I tend to agree with an assessment somewhere between the headshrinkers and the spiritual appraisal. What I do know without doubt is this is NOT the country I was raised in nor is it even the country I raised my kids in. In High School, I used to hang out til all hours of the night in Lee Park near downtown Dallas. It was a “mixed” crowd to say the least and I never once got threatened or saw a serious fight. In the early 2000’s, I took several annual rides to the Republic of Texas Harley gathering in Austin. I met guys wearing their colors from the Banditos in San Antonio, the Outlaws in Midland, the Scorpions in North Texas and even the Hells Angels in New Mexico but everyone seemed to be there to have a good time and old grudges never surfaced. Today, you can lose your life in Garland, Texas just for standing in close proximity to the wrong guy at a gas station taco stand.
Now imagine my trepidation when I stopped by Walmart on Wednesday to pick up some last minute junk food just in case the snowpocalypse trapped us in our homes for days on end with nothing to do but watch Netflix and write newsletters. There were almost no open parking places left in the lot and when I got inside, the place was a madhouse. At least two dozen additional employees were stocking shelves as fast as they could and, just as fast, a horde of frenzied shoppers were stripping those shelves bare. Things were so bad that the only sausage I could find to go with my biscuits was Jimmy Dean Turkey Sausage. What self-respecting carnivore even befowls their skillet with turkey sausage?
Long-story-short, I procured suitable snacks and went to pay. That’s when things got interesting. There were over forty people ahead of me in line to check out. The serpentine line wrapped back and forth like something at an amusement park, with several places for some jerk to try and butt in (did ya notice that number “forty”?). All I could think about was the forty people who duked it out over a piece of meat and here we were with carts full of every edible known to man as well as every reason on Earth to be tense. This was easily going to take an hour. To top it off, I’d forgotten my mask. I fully expected to be set upon by a rabid crowd of maskovites at any minute.
As it turns out, I had a great conversation with the lady ahead of me in line. Between her limited English, and my limited Spanish, and some intricate hand gestures, we were actually able to have a fairly intelligible conversation. She became irritated at Walmart’s callous placement of a display of miniature pies right where the line would be forced to wrap around it. I convinced her that since we’re all going to die from snowpocalypse anyway, it would be ok for her to eat just one. I almost convinced her that if she ate it in line before reaching the cash register, it would be free. Yes, I am a bad person. Then, we struck up an intermittent conversation with two other women who were ahead of us in line but kept coming back the other way as the line made u-turns. One of them had a cart full of vegetables that would have made Perry sexually aroused. The other had three bottles of wine and a giant bucket of pork skins. I said it was obvious whose house I’d head for if trapped in the blizzard and the health food lady almost blushed (except I don’t think black people can blush). She was not happy when I pointed to her friend’s cart. I stated that if we were going to die anyway, why not go out laughing and full of junk food instead of vegetables and gas. I mean, nobody dies from being healthy. Right? One of ‘em said I was a genius. One claimed I was a fool (I think the later was kin to Perry).
So, my question of the week is this: “If fear is the underlying cause of the anger, how can four strangers from totally different cultures and backgrounds, have a great time in the midst of a situation far more tense and fearful than the Golden Corral?” How come these three minority women did not see the middle-aged white guy as the “oppressor” and themselves as the “victims”? Why did they, instead, view me as their neighbor and someone they were willing to have a conversation with rather than an argument? What’s the difference? And, how do we package it and sell it? Or better yet, how do we give it away? And how do we make it part of our businesses as well as our personal relationships? Perhaps there’s more to be learned from those crazily-clad customers at Walmart than from college professors and business speakers.
“We were designed to love and when we do, something good develops inside. We feel clean, rich, whole. Even better, we become less concerned with how we feel and more concerned with the lives of others.”
― Larry Crabb
A meeting of great minds who think alike