Tag Archives: walmart

Occupy Walmart………….

I have to be completely honest here. I am not really clear on what the “occupy” movement is all about. Sure there are snippets about it on the news here and there and I have seen some pictures. But my understanding of it remains completely unclear and it continues to fail to capture my attention.

However, in an effort to not sound like a nim-com-poop, I decided to read a little bit about it. To figure it out.

And I found the “Occupy Together” website – it will tell you it is the “un”official website of the occupy movement and it will tell you this…

“People are occupying spaces in over 150 communities throughout the nation and many more worldwide. We have all become part of a network of people who are working together for something much bigger than any single person, idea, or group. The growth of this movement has been vast and rapid. As we are growing, it is important for us to be able to communicate with one another so we can support each other, share ideas, information and knowledge. This is how we will grow stronger. We have already seen a couple of locations start to form working groups taking on the large task of networking and opening up communication.

Huh? I am still not clear on what that means.

What I do know is that I met a woman who was working at Walmart today. She spends three days a week at Walmart and four days a week watching her grandchildren so that her own daughter can work.

She is thrilled to have a job. She is thrilled to work at Walmart. She even thinks her management team is fabulous. She appreciates all that the United States has given her – mostly freedom from fear.

As she piled all the crap that I could absolutely live 500 years without in to my bags, she talked of fleeing Iran and arriving in America. She didn’t resent that I was buying lollipops and fake vampire teeth. Instead, she actually thanked me for being there, “because we are nothing without our customers.”

This woman and her husband snuck out of Iran because they feared for her husband’s life. They left in a hurry and took nothing but their children with them. They left houses and cars and family. They left memories and histories.

As far as bank accounts go, they were far wealthier in Iran. As far as security goes, they are far richer here. She is content to occupy Walmart.

So, at the end of the day, I am more impressed with the woman occupying Walmart with purpose and gratitude than I am with those who are occupying Wall Street.

Why you don’t need a cook or a driver in America……..

When I first told people I was moving to India, they all wanted to know – “does that mean you will have people working for you?” And they said it with lust in their eyes. As if it was all rainbows and unicorn farts burps. If you don’t know why that could possible be NOT the most fantastic thing that has ever happened to you – please read here first and then maybe here and maybe even here. This blog post might actually be more interesting to my readers who have never been in the U.S. but, trust me, if you are all too familiar with the ways of the West, you might just be amazed at what we are all taking for granted. Trust me on this one – it’s not always the same, same every where.

I have always admitted that having staff made my life in India (much) easier – it was just a pain to have people always around you and sometimes stealing from you and blah blah blah. In fact, for the last five weeks of our lives in India, I did all the cooking and 90 percent of the shopping. People marveled at how I was going to manage it. Why would it be so tough to manage without a cook? Well, most of the shopping is done in markets and there are very few convenience foods. There is no “one-stop” shopping.

Today I went to a grocery store and Walmart and I marveled at just how many things we do not have to do in America.

First of all, some stores in the United States are open 24 hours a day. That is right – they never close. Can I get a hallelujah? In India, most markets don’t open until much later in the morning. And have I bored you to tears yet by telling you how many different places you have to go to get everything on your list? Shopping, cleaning the food, preparing the food, and cooking the food really can be an all-day event. And the foods don’t have a lot of preservatives – which is all sorts of loverly – but it also means you have to go to the market more often. See how tedious it all becomes? I know, I know, there are bigger problems in the world – but I am just sayin – shopping, cooking, and cleaning in India – harder than in the U.S.

So, I am in my car – driving myself – listening to the radio – windows down and I am reminded that the definition of traffic is not universal. Here is what I saw

Now this is not a side road – it is a well traveled thoroughfare and this is at 8:30am. Not necessarily the height of rush hour – but not in the middle of the night either. And, no, everyone is not simply running late today because no one was really behind me either. And I know I should not have been taking a picture – but give me a break – I used the rearview mirror – I had my eyes on the road the whole time! Pinky swear!

So, I pull into the road in front of the shopping plaza and see this sign.

Yes, you see that correctly – A) there is a sign telling you what’s here (what a marvel of modern technology) and B) all of these mega stores are within walking distance of each other.

There is a Target next to a Walmart (basically the same thing) and a BJs with everything that Walmart and Target sell, only in larger quantities. There is a shoe warehouse next to a Payless shoe store and a Toy Store right next to Target and Walmart (which both have enough toys in them for a large country). If you are from India and know about Spencers or Big Bazaar – think of that magnified 8,000 times. Bigger, bigger and better, better.

I know it reveals just how fancy I am not – but if I had to pick only one store to go to for the rest of my life – it would be Walmart – okay, a super Walmart – but a Walmart nonetheless. I heart this store! And, for my Indian readers – do you notice what is missing? Parking attendants and drivers waiting by the front? Oh yeah, and the occasional armed guard. That is because – everywhere in the U.S. there are parking lots. In India, mostly only the malls have parking lots. Hence the real benefit of having a driver. Here – no problemo – parking galore…

See all those empty spaces – you just pick the one you want and zip in – no one has to push a car out of the way for you or drive around the block while you shop. The down side of that is – guess what – you are carrying your own groceries. Just consider it exercise.

And inside these markets is a whole different shopping experience.

There are carrots that are already peeled and cleaned for you. Yummy.

Need a veggie tray? Done.

Need a fruit salad? Done.

Want lettuce? You can get it cleaned and shredded – ready to eat.

Oh, I am sorry – did you need dressing with that?

What’s that? You don’t like bottled dressings? Okay – make your own – here is a starter kit.

Would you like some cheese with that? Shredded perhaps? Remember how our parents used to tell us that they had to walk to school in the snow, uphill, both ways? I now lament with my children the olden days gone by when I had to shred my own cheese. And slice it too. And there sure as heck wasn’t any colby/cheddar on those grocery store racks. Oh, the hardships of childhood.

Oh, your child has tactile issues and prefers sliced cheese? No worries, we’ve got that…

Your mother-in-law prefers cubes – it doesn’t matter if she says that just to make you crazy – it’s all good, we’ve got that too…

And just in case no one is happy with the above choices, let’s throw in some cheese sticks.

And yes, you saw the labels correctly – those are all some form of cheddar cheese – but some like it shredded some like it not.

The cereal aisle can quickly earn you a seasons pass straight to the looney bin. Frosted or not. Fiber or not. Crunchberries or not. Sugar free or high octane. It’s amazing we ever get out of the store.

And even when our carts are full of things we can cook, we still have the option of not preparing our own food. Close your eyes on this first one if you are vegetarian.

We don’t even have to put cheese and crackers together ourselves. They even add a drink.

And if opening a box just seems too daunting at the end of the day – there’s this – we don’t even have to make a sandwich. It’s been done.

Those were frozen peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. The first time I saw them, I was outraged that we have become so lazy that we can’t even make our own sandwiches. Now, I own stock in the company. They are frozen so you do have to plan ahead and let them thaw out for a whole 15 minutes. Patience Grasshopper. Either that or tell your kids they are a popsicle  and cross dessert off the list as well.

Need a drink? Which one? Beer?

Wine?

I included this picture just to show you that Gallo wine really does not cost almost $30 a bottle. Remember that?

And to top it all off, you can even buy your apples already sliced.

You would think with us doing all of our own cooking, shopping, and driving that we would run out of time to do anything else. Not true. This woman still had time to decorate her car with silk flowers. Who says Americans don’t have their priorities in order?

To be very fair to this person, though, this car is a Honda and finding a Honda – your Honda – in the midst of a Walmart parking lot without the aid of a driver is like looking for the proverbial needle in a haystack. She probably did this to make it easier to find her car and to ensure that other moms (or anyone else for that matter) wouldn’t go anywhere near it. She clearly does not have teenagers yet. They would never stand for this degree of lunacy.

So, that is why we don’t need drivers and cooks – we have parking lots and shredded cheese.

Housekeepers, on the other hand, are another story altogether. I cannot imagine a land or a time or a dream where they don’t make perfect sense. 😉

So hard to explain………

I have been really grappling with how to share my transition back to America. It’s hard to explain. Sometimes I am truly paralyzed at the thought of doing it all justice which means that I have not been putting fingers to keyboard very much and I am afraid that some of it is going to slip away from my memory.

At least ten times a day, I look around and think (sometimes to myself and sometimes to any poor soul standing near me) that America is exactly the opposite of India. And I really, really mean that. It is exactly the opposite! And that does not mean bad or good – just so extremely different that I know my words would have a hard time describing it accurately.

This morning at Walmart was no exception. Just walking into Walmart is a little bit overwhelming. Heck, just getting to Walmart is different. I grab my car keys and I hop in the drivers seat and I drive myself there. No waiting for Rajinder to fill his water bottle. No giving a list to Francis and Rani for what I want. No asking Ravi if he needs anything. No trying to translate what he actually asks for. No waiting for the guard to unlock/open the gate. And certainly no wondering if I will be able to find what I need. Just me, myself, and I hop in the car.

I control the radio – hey, I listen to the radio. I decide which route to take. This way or that way is up to me once more.  On the way to the store, I pass tons of green trees along roads where (nearly) everyone stays in their own lane (everyone except those dingbats who are texting and driving – seriously that needs to stop). No one honks their horn. People stop at red lights and use their blinkers. There are no wild cows or dogs on the road. In fact, people are walking dogs on leashes and they are fatter than they need to be – the dogs and many of the people. There are no children begging or doing tricks on the side of the road. There are no bicycles with 3 or even 4 people on them. There are no women on the backs of motorcycles with their dupattas (scarves) flowing dangerously close to the back tire. There are street signs (in English) absolutely everywhere. There are no people running to literally catch a bus that is so full of people that it already looks like it might explode.

I pull into Walmart’s abundant parking lot and I pick where I want to park. I don’t have to tip anyone to push another car out of the way to make room for me. I don’t have to ask Rajinder where I should meet him when I am done or explain how long I think it might take. A man greets me as I enter the store and I get a cart. Oh sweet shopping cart heaven. No one follows me through the store. No one asks me 25 times if I need help. Two people and two carts can easily pass each other on each aisle. And while I am shopping I can get a Subway sandwich (with meatballs and s.a.f.e. lettuce), order eyeglasses, fill a prescription, develop photos, and just about anything else I want to do.

I do have to push my own cart and pull my own items from the shelves. And it takes me so much longer because there is so much more to look at and so many more choices. But I only have to go to one store.

The reason I went to Walmart was to get clear trash bags for the recycling container. Once again, we are responsible for our own recycling. And we have two trash cans in the kitchen. One for regular trash and another for anything that can be recycled – paper, plastic, glass, and metal items. So I like clear bags for the recycling. That way we can tell which is which and the trash men know which bags have recycling in them. I also wanted small bags for cleaning out the cat litter.

Here again I am assaulted by choices. Upteen size and color options. I really just want trash bags but now I have to decide if I want white, flexwhite, green, black, clear, or slightly opaque. Do I want handles or ties or looped handles. Do I need 8 gallon, 15 gallon, 33 gallon, or yard bags. It takes me just a second to focus. But then I found the recycling bags I wanted.

Now onto the small trash bags. Holy trashbag batman – they come in colors – vanilla and mint green. Then, I realize – not just colors but scents. Huh? I fully understand that perfume was invented to cover up body odor – but we have moved away from that because it can really be a toxic combination. And as such, deodorant was invented. Perfume is much better on a bathed person and scents are much better for candles. And I know the makers of these cute little mint green 8 gallon bags with handles did not know that they would be used for litter – but the potential certainly existed that they would be used for something smelly. And not for nothing, who decided that 76 bags was the right number of bags. That must have been a fun meeting. And who lost out – the person who thought that 88 was just the right number?

So India is the land where not much of the trash finds its way into a bag and America is the land where trash bags are supposed to smell like a cupcake or a bowl of ice cream. I really don’t know if this makes sense to anyone who has not lived in both places – but honestly, that is just the tip of the iceberg. Everything is different, different.

And the the final irony is that I searched and searched for these small bags for our kitties poop only to be given about 15 bags of almighty plastic to hold all of the c-r-a-p that I bought at checkout. And they are the same, same size and they do not smell like cotton candy and they would work perfectly fine for holding cat litter. And I would be recycling if I just used those.

On to checking out. Even that is different. The woman in front of me was using coupons. Dang, I forgot about that. Note to self – get Sunday paper, cut out coupons, and remember to bring them to the store – then remember to use them at checkout.

Most transactions in India are in cash – so the debit card machine temporarily stunned me. Do I want cash back? It’s a simple question – but I forgot that it prompts you for that. I stand there waiting to be done – and the people behind me think I have dropped in from another planet – how can I possibly not know what to do here. Okay, okay. No, I don’t want cash – well, unless it is a door prize – but I am guessing that is not the case, so no, I don’t need cash back. But that is not the end of it. Do I want to contribute to a fundraiser for a children’s hospital? I can buy a paper balloon and write my name on it. I should not have to think about it – but wait a minute – what did you ask me? Oh, a charitable donation? Sure. How much? A dollar? Fine. And no thanks, I don’t need to write my name on the balloon. Besides, my hands are full because I am going to have to carry my own bags to the car and remember where I parked it.

Interview with a Vampire (or me me)……..

Okay, I am not really a vampire – but an interview with me just did not sound as interesting. In the blog world, there is this thing called a me me – it’s a little chance for readers to get to know more (than they ever wanted to know) about the blog author – that’s me, yes, me. Miss Grace got interviewed and now I get to play along. She asks the questions, and I answer.  Bear with me – this might require some thought – stand back in case my brain explodes from actual use, I cannot be held accountable for the splatter. What? If Walmart does not have to corral their shopping carts, why should I? Anymeme, here it goes.

1.  What’s your favorite non-blog website/place to waste time on the internet.

I am sadly a facebook addict. It has been very fun to connect with friends from long ago – I have even met a future friend from India. Now that is cool. I also read skim the Times of India. And I cannot tear myself away from the craft sites where I have wholesale accounts. It appears I have more than one dark addiction demon in my computer life. (Really though, the blog sites are my faves.)

And I cannot, will not forget about Skype. That is how the kids and I talk to number one hubby – for free – everyday. It is a little piece of communication addiction that I embrace.

2.  What material thing/place (not a person) do you think you’ll miss the most when you’re in India?

Hmmm. Since you said not a person, you left open the door for other creatures. I am going to say my little cat Queso. She sits with me at the computer almost every minute that I am here and gives me scratchy cat kisses. She also purrs really loud. It’s going to be hard to top that. But the place would be my neighborhood and my newly renovated house. I love them both and it is very hard to tear myself away from home. I will also miss my double oven. Apparently my new oven is a large toaster oven that actually sits on the counter.

I am also a horrible creature of habit. So, I will very much miss my very comfortable routines.

3.  What everyday thing do you wish you could eliminate from your life forever?

This one is easy. Laundry. And the cat litter. And dishes. Okay – I will just say chores in general. This elimination might actually occur in India. If I can put the control freak in me aside and let others (literally) do my dirty work. Oh yeah, and I would not mind throwing mean or manipulating people out with the trash. No time for that. Maybe they could be recycled. Hey, I guess that could happen in India too – I understand they believe in reincarnation.

4.  Describe the first date you ever went on (in your life).

It was with Donnie. We went with his parents to Godfather’s Pizza. They sat way across the restaurant (with a direct view of us). And we sat at our own booth. It was very uneventful. We went on this date while he was on a break from his long-time girlfriend. They got back together – they honestly probably got married. At least they should have.

My best date was when hubby beat me home from work and made dinner. He locked me out because he was not done ironing the table cloth yet. (He has never done it since – and I really wouldn’t want him to – it would ruin the memory of him frantically ironing my grandmother’s tablecloth while I am banging on the door to get in.) I don’t remember everything he made but I remember being so mad that he locked me out of my own house. Then I felt horrible. It was really great.

5.  If you had to have one song playing constantly on a loop in the background for the rest of your life, which one would be the least likely to make you want to kill yourself?

I have a hard time making choices – it’s easier to say what I don’t want than what I do want. (You should see me at the Cheesecake Factory with its 500-page menu – all the possibilities – I almost end up in a straight jacket every time.) I would not want the hookie pokie (although we did play it and dance to it at our wedding) or the macarena (I never learned out to do it). But I have learned from my parenting experience that any song played over and over is not a good thing. Repetition is the fastest way to ruin a love of musical things – be it Barney or Beethoven.  It would have to be something without words – but definitely not No More Words. Maybe it would be a cd of Queso purring. Or the theme song to St. Elmo’s Fire. My younger brother learned to play that on the piano for me because I loved the song so  much.

Okay now you have me thinking – it might be Picture by Kidd Rock and Sheryl Crow – I love the way they are both thinking about what they have given up and how sad they are not to be together – but I hate the way they refuse to admit it – then they finally do in the end. It reminds me to (try to) not take number one hubby for granted. Even if he locks me out of the house.

Your turn – Wanna play? Post a comment here saying so (you can still comment here if you don’t want questions). Include your email address if it’s not built into your commenting settings. I’ll send you some questions. Answer them on your blog, and pass it on.