ntil recently there were two things I had never seen in my life. I had never seen a moose and I had never seen the inside of a Walmart. I know this seems impossible because I’ve lived in Maine for over three decades and Walmart has basically taken over the world.
Since I am into my second half century of life I thought it time to reduce my never-seen list to just one. So, the other day I drove to Newington with the sole purpose of doing something I hadn’t done before: I would become a Walmart shopper. Approaching the giant Walmart store, which had taken over the high ground, like a fortress, I noticed it completely overwhelmed a nearby church. As high as the church steeple strove to reach into the sky it did not make an impression on the giant, white, geometric monolith that has become the principal house of worship for most American consumers.
The first thing I noticed, as I drove into the massive parking lot that surrounded the building like a cement moat, was that it was filled almost to capacity. There seemed to be a steady stream of shoppers pouring into the building and few leaving. Despite the immensity of the parking lot it took a while to find an empty bay and I eventually finished up parking on the far side of the garden supply area where there were a few spaces left because we were well past gardening season.
It meant a long hike to the main entrance and I soon found myself joining multiple streams of shoppers that merged into one giant torrent that poured endlessly into the store. I found myself wondering if maybe there was a black hole inside where people disappeared as soon as they had spent all their money, because I never saw anybody coming out. The main entrance was huge and led into an equally huge vestibule packed with vending machines and glossy advertising displays of the bargains to be had further inside the store.