The Rittenhouse Review

A Philadelphia Journal of Politics, Finance, Ethics, and Culture

Saturday, November 29, 2003  

And Not Planning To Go Anytime Soon

As I’ve mentioned in the past, I’ve never been to Wal-Mart. I used to feel sort of vaguely ashamed of that, thinking it made me sound elitist or snobby. The truth is that having spent my adult life living in Washington, New York, and Philadelphia, and many of those years without a car, there haven’t been many opportunities for me to do so.

More recently, what with Wal-Mart’s obsessive anti-union practices, charges of sexual discrimination, assertions of widespread forced and unpaid overtime, and the apparent hiring of janitors at two bucks an hour, I’m starting to feel proud of my failure to patronize the massive chain.

The latest news about the Bentonville behemoth is equally stupefying.

As reported by CNN, Wal-Mart customer Patricia VanLester was seriously injured yesterday in the Wal-Mart Super Center in Orange City, Fla., crushed by her fellow shoppers -- at shortly after 6:00 a.m., no less -- during a mass stampede of crazed customers making their way toward a display of $29.00 DVD players.

Wal-Mart, in a unique demonstration of corporate sensitivity, apologized to VanLester’s sister -- VanLester herself being, well, still in the hospital and kind of out of it -- and has “offered to put a DVD player on hold” for the injured woman.

“We are very disappointed this happened,” said Karen Burk, a spokeswoman for Wal-Mart, adding, “We want her to come back as a shopper.” [Emphasis added.]

Not as Wal-Mart’s guest, mind you, but “as a shopper.”

Yes indeed, it appears Wal-Mart wants VanLester to return to the store, the site of this no-doubt traumatic experience, to pay for the $29.00, “on hold” DVD player that almost killed her, and, I suppose, maybe buy a few thoughtful gifts for her neighbors, especially those who walked right on top of her floored and injured body in a mad rush to save a few bucks.

Merry Christmas, Miss VanLester, from the stingy bottom-line folks at Wal-Mart!

[Post script: Total sales at Wal-Mart Stores in October 2003: $19,066,000,000.00. Total sales in the company’s fiscal year to date: $182,312,000,000.00. Source: Wal-Mart Stores Inc.]

[Post-publication addendum: If you care to see yet another example of Andrew Sullivan missing the larger point entirely, head on over to his place -- no, not the place in Washington, nor the vacation home (tax shelter?) in Provincetown, Mass., nor the crash pad in Chicago (oh so handy for IML weekend), but the vanity site -- and look for today’s posting headed “Not the Onion.”]

[Post-publication addendum (December 5): Hmm . . . Did she do it on purpose or something? “Developing . . . ,” as the dope in the hat would put it.]

The Rittenhouse Review | Copyright 2002-2006 | PERMALINK |