For reasons too boring to delve into, I found myself in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania on Tuesday night with nothing to do but walk off a gigantic meal procured at Smokey Bones.
My com padres suggested walking over to the strip mall adjacent to our Marriott. I was down with that, because if I went to bed without a minimal amount of exercise, my heart my have exploded from the amount of barbecue I'd eaten.
You might question the choice of a stroll to a strip mall. Trust, there were no other options. This hotel was on a road named Power Line Drive. You know how roads are typically named after historical personages, geographical destinations, or are designed to be evocative of local vistas? Well, Power Line Drive was indeed evocative of a local vista...of the power lines. So, off we went to the strip mall.
Turns out, though, the strip mall next door wasn't a strip mall. Nope. It was just a GIGANTIC Wal-Mart. I've seen how Wal-Mart kills whatever Mom & Pop industry is indigenous to an area, so I don't shop there. But my co-workers do, and marched toward it because they needed to pick up a few things. Aaargh. These were my choices:
(1) Accompany them, but don't buy anything;
(2) Turn around, feigning sudden fatigue, the need to make a phone call from a land line, or illness (which, come to think of it, would've been believable considering how much I'd just horked chez Smokey Bones); OR
(3) Share my politics, and take off back to the hotel.
I'm a passivist pacifist, so I opted to go but not buy anything. Going was a good thing, because my reasons for avoiding Wal-Mart are not limited to the political sphere. Now, my reasons include the atmosphere. Which, for the record, was kind of depressing. Nobody wanted to be there. The greeter kind of grunted at us. And the shoppers comprised grumpy parents, wailing kids, and portly teens who resented that their summertime entertainment was loitering at Wal-Mart...
So, in the future, I don't have to worry about whether or not I'm really missing out on something great at Wal-Mart. Not like I was really worried, I guess, but any shadowy doubt that lingered is gone.