The Wacky, Wild, Wonderful World Of Wally

AROUND THE RIM COUNTRY

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Been to Wal-Mart lately?

Of course you have. We all have.

For better or worse, Wally World is as much a part of our lives as the Mogollon Rim itself.

Isn't it ironic that the Fortune 500's largest company plays such a major role in the lives of those of us who live in small town America? To at least some extent, it dictates what we wear, what we plant, what we eat -- how we live our very lives.

And while each visit to this mighty Mecca is an adventure unto itself, there are some things you can always count on when you go to Wal-Mart. Among my favorite Wally World experiences:

  • Searching for a prime parking spot. The Wal-Mart parking lot is legendary for lots of reasons -- and most of them have to do with people forgetting the basic rules of the road.
  • Running a shopping cart across that bumpy tile foyer. Sorry Sam, but whoever chose that tile for the entryway must be a fourth cousin who got his job out of sympathy.
  • People blocking 14-foot wide aisles with a single shopping cart. This can happen anywhere there are shopping carts, but with its big, wide aisles, Wal-Mart makes the feat even more astounding. You know the routine. Some little old lady has her cart turned sideways in the aisle and holds on to the handle as she does a spread-eagle number to reach an item on the opposite shelf. And the people who do this are perfectly sane individuals who observe all the rules of the road when they're driving a car (except in the Wal-Mart parking lot). Why, oh why, can't we live by the same rules when we're driving shopping carts?
  • Waiting forever in the prescription pickup line because there is always somebody in front of you with a big problem. Her doctor didn't OK the refill, or it costs more than it did last time, or could you cut those pills in half and frost them. The more people waiting, the more determined she seems to drag the issue out until those of us in line have all succumbed to whatever it is we're getting medicine for.
  • Running into people you are happy to see. Have you ever gone into Wal-Mart and not run into somebody you know? Some people I know I only see in Wal-Mart. My neighbors Judy and Emmet are an example. If I didn't see them several times a year at Wal-Mart I would forget they are my neighbors. Pam is another example. I always see Pam at Wal-Mart. I think Pam lives at Wal-Mart.
  • Running into people you are not happy to see. If you have sworn enemies, or even people you just kind of don't like all that much, rest assured that you will run into them every time you go to Wal-Mart. Fortunately the maze-like store is also perfect for evading somebody. Admit it: You've ducked down an aisle to avoid somebody at Wal-Mart.
  • Running into people you know you should know but can't remember who they are. I am terrible with names, and a visit to Wal-Mart intensifies this deficiency in my character. I am pretty sure the people whose names I can't remember have organized and take turns showing up at Wal-Mart whenever I'm there.
  • Running into perfect strangers who strike up a conversation because if you're in the same aisle, you must be soulmates. I recently stopped to pick up a part for my swamp cooler, and this guy starts telling me how I can fix it without buying the new part. After 15 minutes, he realizes that his cure won't work on my cooler and says, "Forget everything I just told you." This really happened.
  • Lu DiSomma's cool Brooklyn accent. If you've never met Lu, she's the public relations person at Wal-Mart. Peruse employee name badges until you find her, then strike up a conversation -- about anything except fixing a cooler. With that accent of hers, Lu seems totally out of place in Payson.
  • Checking out all the dead fish floating at the top of the Wal-Mart aquariums. You can understand how easy it must be for a little fish to get lost in a huge mega-complex like Wal-Mart. Rest in peace, little fishies.
  • Scoring a closeout bargain. Not all Wal-Mart experiences are tedious, and every once in a while you find a bargain that makes it all worthwhile. My favorite was a set of four genuine rubber auto floor mats for $5. It was such a deal, I bought a set for a girlfriend who promptly ended our relationship. But that's a story for another time.

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