My one year anniversary of being Wal-Mart free

Posted on August 15, 2005 at 12:57 AM

(Legal Disclaimer: The following post is lengthy, tends to ramble, and contains anti Wal-Mart sentiments. If you suffer from A.D.D and/or an unrivaled love of Wal-Mart, please proceed with caution.)

For those of you who have read this blog since it's humble beginnings may know, I mentioned my personal ban against all things Wal-Mart and how I would someday blog about my last trip to the black hole of retail shopping.
Well, today at this very hour, exactly 365 days ago, I was making my final pilgrimage to Wal-mart.

Up until a fateful trip to Western Nebraska one year ago today, I was already about 9 months into my Wal-Mart free life. My personal ban against all things Wal-Mart began back in Dec 2003 when I read an article in Fast Company magazine entitled "The Wal-Mart you don't know". Truly an eye opening read.

I could list reasons why you shouldn't shop at Wal-Mart, but that wasn't the intention of this post. My advice to you, the consumer, would be to read the Fast Company article I mentioned, and then visit the following sites:

Dave Lippman on why he hates Wal-Mart

Hel-Mart: an anti Wal-Mart site hoping to educate the masses about Wal-Mart and it's practices

Let's continue on with my original story.

A group of us last year traveled on what is known as the "Tour of the West", mainly a group of guys that get together and travel to Western Nebraska to play golf for three days. So, on the morning of Saturday, August 14th, I was picked up bright and early at about 7:30am. It is at this juncture in which I make a most grievous error. Mainly, it involves my penchant for packing my bags at the last minute and my ability to oversleep. These two traits when mixed together can cause you to forget an item or two behind. This occasion was a prime example of that.

And with little fanfare, we were off. Though not much can be said for the 3+ hour car ride to Gothenburg other than a horrendously boring conversation about GPS. It so happens that in the vehicle in which I was traveling was a man we will refer to as "Keith". Keith is a gentleman of approx 63 or so years in age who was absolutely fascinated with GPS. He even had the presence of mind to bring his very own GPS unit with him and was actively using it to tell us real important things like, our current position, the rate of speed we were traveling, upcoming exits, or the number of GPS satellites currently available. I could go on, trust me, but I will leave it at that.

So we get to our first stop, Gothenburg Nebraska, home to Wild Horse Golf club, which by the way is one of the most sadistic golf courses this blog has ever played. And to top if off it's raining. Perfect. Because we all know that walking through wet, waist high buffalo grass all day long looking for your ball is the definitely the recipe for fun. Plus I got to hit out of bunkers like this:

a bunker at Wild Horse

Go me.

After the bloodshed that was my golf game finally ended, we headed into town to find something to eat. This being Western Nebraska of course there is nothing better to eat than a nice juicy cut of grade A beef. Not too hard to find in a town like Gothenburg.

Seeing that earlier in the day I posted a score that has the same amount of digits as the GDP of a third world country, I was in need of a little levity. So at dinner a conversation ensued with the topic of what would you eat for money. I believe the whole discussion started on whether a person could consume an entire shaker of salt, but I digress.

As the conversation continued, a certain friend of mine named, well, will call him "Dave", was posed with the offer of $10 to eat the fat leftover from the prime rib he just ate. To our astonishment he agreed. I say "astonishment" because this wasn't your normal, run of the mill piece of gristle. This was a grand daddy of them all, heart stopping, fist sized piece of fat. There was no way we thought he would do this.

But much to our chagrin he performed the task swimmingly. Though he didn't attack the fat like I had hoped, which was shoving the whole thing in his mouth, half chewing, half choking on the fat. He matter-of-factly sliced it up into bite size pieces and, over the course of the next 15 minutes, finished every last morsel. It turned out to be a lackluster event as I was hoping the local rescue squad would have to be called in, but it was a well earned $10, I must say. The next day, he would go on to shoot the best score of his life, to which of course he credits the consumption of the previous night's fat.

After dinner, we left Gothenburg and traveled further west to that night's destination of McCook Nebraska. To avoid 2+ hours of continued GPS talk I decided to take (or at least fake) a quick snooze.

We arrived in McCook, checked into our rooms, and unpacked. Later, everyone convened in my room to commence an evening of poker. As we played, I noticed I was smelling a little funky so I thought I would freshen up a little bit with a quick application of deodorant. But to my horror, it became apparent that I had left home without it. I broke out into a small panic thinking I would have to trudge through 36 holes of golf in blistering heat the following day, sans deodorant. I was desperate, but there was no way I was going to ask a group of 8 men if we could stop at the nearest grocery store so I could pick some up. I doubt such an establishment would even be open at 7:30am on a Sunday in McCook. And of course borrowing some was completely out of the question. It was apparent that I would have to take matters into my own hands.

Since I didn't have access to a vehicle (being that those who drove were already fast asleep) I went out to the parking lot to see what amenities the town had to offer to facilitate my deodorant purchase. Gazing across the darkened horizon, I saw it off in the distance. My nemesis. Yes, the familiar white neon glow of a Wal-Mart sign.

I was faced with a dilemma, walk to Wal-Mart and buy deodorant or play golf the next day with the certainty I would reek to high heaven. All I can say is Damn you Wal-Mart, Damn you.

With the decision made, I set out on my journey. It didn't seem too far away at the time. I mean, I could SEE the store from our parking lot, how far could it be? A half a mile or so? So I walked, and walked, and walked. Turns out that the Wal-Mart was about 2 miles away. And let me tell you, walking down the main drag of a small town just around the time the bars were closing only added to the excitement.

Once I arrived, I was greeted by the typical Wal-Mart customer. The mullet man, the wife-beater wearer guy, the creepy un-bathed sweat suit guy, the unidentified growth on neck gal, you know, the usual suspects. As it happens, their clientele at 1am isn't all that different from those who frequent the store at 1pm. Go figure.

I try to make my visit as short as humanly possible, so I bee-line over to the personal hygiene section, pickup a stick of deodorant, grab a coke for my journey back, and pay. Needless to say that my self esteem at this point is a tad bit lower than normal. I guess walking 4 miles round trip to Wal-Mart in the middle of the night for a stick of deodorant will do that to a person.

I arrived back at the hotel 90 minutes after my journey had begun. I was hot, tired, and smelled putrid. I took a shower and finally hit the sack around 2am. Only to awaken 4 hours later and play 36 holes of golf. B-E-A-utiful.

Our trip ended the day after my 36 hole death march through the hills of McCook. Though we just HAD to swing back through Gothenburg on the way home to Omaha and play Wild Horse one more time. By this time I was a broken man. I had played 72 horrendous holes of golf in the span of approx. 48 hours, watched a man eat a fistful of fat for money, was subjected to countless hours of GPS talk with a 60+ year old man, and had to walk 4 miles to a Wal-Mart in McCook Nebraska to buy deodorant at 1am. Saying that this was a definite low point in my life would be an understatement.

Although, not all was lost. Having made it through this ordeal has taught this blog a valuable lesson in which I will make great strides in the future to avoid this type of scenario. As deodorant will ALWAYS be the first thing I remember to pack. For we shall never meet again Wal-Mart. Never.

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