Super Wal-Mart

30 06 2008

I have a horrible habit of starting to cook dinner and then realizing halfway through that I’m missing an ingredient. That used to work out okay because, more often than not, I could run to the grocery store that was just five minutes away. I now live thirty minutes from the nearest grocery store, which means that I have to be much more deliberate in planning the grocery shopping.

I also used to like to shop around. There were two grocery stores right next to each other by my old home in Arvada, and I knew which store had the better deals on which items. And for anything the grocery store didn’t carry, Target was just around the corner.

I have now become a Super Wal-Mart shopper.

I used to dislike Wal-Mart. But now, since it’s such an ordeal just to get to the store (ANY store) and the stores aren’t quite as close to each other, it’s easiest to do one-stop shopping at the Super Wal-Mart in Gallup. Meat, cleaning supplies, shoes for the kids, housewares, fresh produce, even a complete liquor store. The Gallup Super Wal-Mart has it all.

But there’s a catch: There is an acceptable window of time for shopping at Super Wal-Mart, and if you miss that window, your shopping experience may become an all-day endeavor.

Super Wal-Mart is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Between the hours of 11:00am and 7:00pm, however, Super Wal-Mart is besieged by the residents of the surrounding Indian reservations. They are perfectly nice people, but there are trillions of them.

I have to admit that I lack significant experience with Indians. (I guess the more politically correct term would be “Native Americans,” but all the ones I’ve met call themselves Indians.) I do, however, have significant experience with Mexicans. I am a Sanchez, after all, and while my paternal ancestry is more Spanish than Mexican, I have researched my family history enough to know that there are plenty of Mexican branches in my family tree. 

There are some amazing cultural similarities between Indians and Mexicans. But the cultural similarities are nothing compared to the shopping similarities. When I shopped for the first time in a Super Wal-Mart full of Indians, I realized that Indians might just be more Mexican than Mexicans.

They go shopping with all of their children, and the room with the win-a-stuffed-animal claw game and the fiberglass-horse-ride becomes an indoor amusement park. The aisles are plenty wide, but each person pushes their cart right down the middle to make sure no one can pass on either side, and they’re prone to stopping in the middle of the aisle to stare at the many varieties of instant rice for a good five minutes or so until they’ve decided on one to buy. Then, they move down the aisle about 15 feet and stop again to look at canned soup. It took me three times as long as it normally would have to collect all of my groceries.

And then I reached the checkout lane.

When I shop, I get dry goods first so that the meat and dairy won’t be sitting in my unrefrigerated cart for too long. When I reached the checkstands, I was pleased to realize that at least half of the lanes were actually open. (In Denver, it seemed like there were always 30 checkstands and only two that were open at any given time.) But I was dismayed to realize that each lane had at least nine people waiting in line, and each person has a cart that is filled to the brim. And most of those little “ON” lights are blinking, because everyone (and I do mean everyone) wants a price check.

It took me literally an hour to wait in line and pay for our groceries.

So there is officially no longer such a thing as a quick trip to the grocery store. If there’s an ingredient I’ll need while cooking dinner, it had better be on a list a good week or two before it’s needed.

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11 responses

30 06 2008
Teri

Rob, do you go by yourself to the store or do you take the kids? If you take the kids I’m sure Liesl wouldn’t mind it taking you all day! What else do you have to do??? 🙂 Just make sure Aidan leaves his bows and arrows at home! lol

Rob says: We’ve tried it both ways. The kids seem to have a hard time after they’ve been there for more than an hour, but it seems to work okay to take one of them. And yes, you’re right — if it does take all day to do the shopping, there’s not really much else we’re missing out on. For now, at least.

30 06 2008
Daniel

So now you go back to hating Wal-Mart, I hope. I mean, there’s a tradeoff for that convenience and those lowish prices (“lowish” because the value of the products are frequently lower, and sometimes the prices still aren’t great), which is that you patronize a corporation that grossly underpays people around the world and forces their vendors (including the likes of Kraft Foods, Levi Jeans, and Sony) to cut their workers’ benefits and wages.

It’s understandable to think I’m overstating my case, and that Wal-Mart is merely “less than ideal” rather than the scourge on our world the way I think it is. But when you don’t actually get your end of the tradeoff (i.e. convenience and/or less money or time spent shopping), what’s the point in making any tradeoff at all?

Btw, “politically correct,” is just a term used by people who don’t like to admit there’s such a thing as “common courtesy” which they should adhere to, and “Indian” is, as you surmise, a perfectly courteous option.

Rob says: Sounds like you feel the same way about Wal-Mart that I feel about Ethos Water. Ideally, we’d all be self-sufficient in a world that’s not dominated by greedy corporations. But I haven’t jumped on the “I Hate Wal-Mart” bandwagon yet. Maybe next week.

30 06 2008
Mom2

I didn’t know I was Mexican in my shopping habits. I tend to stop and stare for at least 5 minutes for each item, but hopefully I’m not standing completely in the middle of the aisle!

Rob says: I know it, I’ve run into you at the grocery store before. I guess I could always just say, “Excuse me,” but then what would I have to blog about? I really think the biggest difference here is that there are none of the people making a “quick trip” because it’s a long drive for everyone shopping there, so not only is it packed, but everyone is buying at least one of everything and therefore has to stop at every spot in every aisle.

30 06 2008
Janna

4am is the ideal Wal-Mart shopping time… period. End of discussion.

Rob says: I would completely agree, except for the fact that New Mexico is notorious for its high number of drunk drivers. Driving at 4 a.m. here would freak me out.

30 06 2008
Emily S

Fun read Rob. Hope it gets better! Love you!!

PS my sister was asking about her wedding video today. Any chance you could bring it when you come to visit in July?? Love you!

Rob says: Yes, definitely. I will try to get it out of the Sony Handycam format and onto an actual DVD so they can watch it instead of just looking at the disc. 😉

30 06 2008
Terri Spratte

Your Super Walmart there is alot like the one at Wadsworth and Colfax, that is why I stopped shopping there and shop at Super Target for certain things I can’t get at Whole Foods, because that Walmart is open 24 hours and busy 24/7 and it is crazy the only difference is not only do you have people stopping in the middle of the isle to look the people take up the whole isle talking as well which means no getting down the isle at all.

Thanks for sharing.

Rob says: If there were a Super Target here, I would be there in a heartbeat. And it will probably be a decade or more before this place gets a Whole Foods. Bummer, huh?

30 06 2008
Jenn

Ha-ha! What a visual. 🙂

~J

Rob says: For you, my friend, I will have to try to snap some photos of this insanity.

1 07 2008
Aunty Penn

I love Walmart. And Walmart in Gallup is SUCH a cultural experience. Buy ice cream at California Market on the way home…..but watch the package liquour crowd….

Rob says: Definitely a cultural experience. I make it sound bad, but really, frustrations aside, I enjoy the differentness of it all. We will have to check out the California Market. I don’t know where that is yet.

1 07 2008
Maureen Bricker

Hey Rob!

Surely you know that people shopping with children walk down the middle of the isle to prevent little hands from grabbing stuff off the shelves. Even though I have no little ones anymore, the habit is quite ingrained (or is that engrained? I hate it when I can’t spell check!) Tell me what took you to N.M. I heard that Tim F. was offered a sweet deal at Moody (or Trinity)…am I right? You’re living in Evan’s dream home….or at least second to an underground house. He’ll be jealous! Bye for now,

Maureen

Rob says: That’s true, they do have a tendency to reach out and grab. That’s one thing I will say for Wal-Mart that’s different from King Soopers back at home. At King Soopers, they obnoxiously place toys on little hooks sticking out from the shelves right at kid-in-a-cart level. At Wal-Mart, they leave the toys in the toy section and just have groceries in the grocery section. Much nicer.

2 07 2008
Mom2

Whole Foods in Gallup? It’ll never happen! If a business can’t be sustained by business from the Indian patrons it never stays. California Market is where Granny goes, I think. It’s close to El Rancho, I think – I can’t really remember right now.

3 07 2008
Aunty Penn

I remember eating in Taco Bell once and sitting near some tourists who weren’t enjoying the ‘cultural experience’ very much. They actually turned to us and asked, “How do you stand it?”

What I wanted to say….but didn’t, was, “Eventually, the tourists leave.”

So glad you’re liking it!

Rob says: That would have been the perfect response. They might have been offended at the time, but they would have told that story to everyone else back at home.

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