Tag Archives: Walmart

Adventures in Living: Purchasing Under the Tamarined Tree

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I went to Barnes & Noble to order Rosaliene Bacchus’ novel, Under the Tamarind Tree, (rosalienebacchus.blog) but it was a humiliating and infuriating experience.  I made a special trip to B&N to order that book.  On walking in, I congratulated myself on my “pull through economics” philosophy.  As opposed to “trickle down economics,” “pull through” means using brick-and-mortar stores to assist awareness and distribution of desirable products.

I had $23 in cash plus change and wanted coffee so figured I could just barely afford the book at $16.95.  I was shocked to see a $4.99 shipping charge on the bill.  The clerk who processed the order said Barnes & Noble has recently instituted a shipping charge even on books that come to the store.  I began to wonder what is the advantage of a brick-and-mortar store if I have to pay shipping anyway?  So I went to the café to pay for the book and to get coffee.  But sales tax—which hadn’t been listed on the receipt—put me over the top.  There was a long line before and behind me.  I was ready to defer the book purchase until I had more money, but up speaks a curly-headed young guy from two people back in the line to ask how much I was short.  “Three dollars,” says the cashier.  He hands her the money, thereby rescuing B&N’s sale.  I knew he thought he was doing me a favor, and I appreciated it, but I felt trapped in a situation I would have handled quite differently on my own.  I gave the guy my $1.25 in quarters, and he got the $0.54 change, so his total investment came to about $1.25.  I thanked him and learned he is beginning to write a novel himself, a futuristic fantasy novel dealing with monotheism vs. polytheism.

Later, I realized I could have written a check, but I was too flummoxed to think of that.  There was no urgency to buy the book.  I could have held on to the receipt and paid next week.  I was actually thinking of by-passing B&N entirely and looking on Amazon for it, so annoyed I was with the shipping charge.  But there’s more to it than this, because I resent buying anything these days.  Books are falling off my bookshelves.  I’ve also virtually stopped reading novels and want to read this only because Rosaliene wrote it and Sha’Tara (ixiocali.com) raved over it

I stewed about this, and about this home delivery trend, off and on, all day.  I noted how stressful the hidden costs were.  A $16.95 book should not cost $23.48 at the cash register.  As I sat the next morning finishing the B&N coffee (in my reusable cup), I contemplated the emotional valence of this superficially insignificant experience.

Philosophically, I support brick-and-mortar.   The trend in commerce is to promote home delivery, ultimately isolating people even more.  At Kroger the other day, I spoke with an employee who was gathering groceries for home-delivery shoppers.  I asked if he tried to find the best vegetables and he said yes.  He is not allowed to choose items on sale, though.

I appreciate being able to see and touch what I’m buying, to squeeze my own tomatoes, and to have the social experience of meeting people on casual terms in public or commercial places.  Barnes & Noble is one of the very few places with easy parking that I can go to sit with coffee, air-conditioning, good light, and a plethora of interesting and stimulating reading material, and frankly, people like the guy who helped pay for my book and coffee.

The next day, I went to B&N and apologized to one of the café employees for the commotion I caused, but I also presented my case for resuming free shipping to the store.  I said that nice guy behind me in line saved B&N a sale.  I had a large audience, yet again, not intentionally.  I said she should tell her bosses the shipping charge is bad for business, that enhanced traffic into the store offsets the cost of shipping to the store.  When people come in to pick up their orders, they might buy other things, like coffee, at least, whereas home delivery prevents the browser from finding other things to buy.  In fact, I said, I might just write corporate B&N myself.

Jenique told me she believed they were sending the book to my house.  I went into a long (sort of, being aware of customers waiting) tirade about how I hate home delivery because FedEx and UPS drive all over my lawn, and why do we have stores if they don’t store things?

As an advocate of print media, I want books to flourish.  This trend to electronics may be here to stay, but I doubt it will fully supplant hard copy publishing, just as digital currency cannot replace tangible means of exchange, except in the ethereal realms of macroeconomic imagination.

Anyway, I decided I do feel some loyalty to B&N, because the staff is friendly, and coffee prices haven’t yet gone up.  I’d checked Amazon for Under the Tamarind Tree and found no advantage in buying it on-line, so the book is becoming famous locally for its contribution to my latest “pull through economics” soapbox.

Apparently Walmart is initiating drone delivery in Virginia, fueling my fears regarding the implications of commercial drones.  Must my birds now compete with drones for airspace?  How much noise will drones make in delivering pizza to neighbors?  They reputedly can go up to 70 mph.  Worse, will the USPS start using drones to deliver junk mail to my front lawn?

I hope I die before that future arrives.  I may need to get a a gun.  I can go on a shooting spree, with drones and excessive traffic turn signals for targets.

It became part of my rant to Barbara and Ed as we walked back through the mall after the coffee klatch.  Ed said Walmart is not only delivering groceries, but it will send robots into your house and put the food in your refrigerator.  Barbara expressed doubt that I will be able to avoid the drone trend but did agree there are fewer and fewer places where people can meet and interact informally.  Brick-and-mortar stores like B&N do serve a valuable but unappreciated social function.

So said I to Ned, a B&N customer service employee. I spoke with on the way out.  I wanted to make sure the book was coming to the store, even though Jenique said she would take care of it.  Yes, he said.  He explained that the book is being published on demand by a self-publishing operation that requires pre-payment of book and delivery charges, and that B&N makes no money on the deal.  I explained my “pull through economics” philosophy, how important it is to sustain brick-and-mortar stores, how loyal I am to B&N–even though it is a corporate monster– largely because of the friendly and helpful employees.  I left him all smiles.

Footnote:  The book was well worth the trouble.  It was so gripping that I read it in two sittings:  a heart-warming story about life and culture in British Guiana in the 1950s and 1960s, as it was undergoing the transition to become Guyana, independent of British rule.

Noise

I am indoors steaming because of machine noise.  My formerly peaceful, rural environment has become a cesspool of cacophony in my lifetime.  Even as I write, my neighbor brother-in-law is mowing the lawn between our houses.  He couldn’t do it over the weekend, when all the neighbors were outside with their power tools, and the Gun Club was a’popping down the street.  No, he had to wait until today, so he could rev his lawnmower for an hour, complete with backfires and my slim and waning hope that it would stop for good, or that he would give up.  The grass doesn’t even need mowing.

It may be said that I am adding to the noise by my complaints.  It seems the world is overpopulated with people and machines screaming for attention.  There are so many demands on attention, from so many sources, that it’s tempting to shut them all out, if that were possible.  I understand now why people go deaf.

Last night it occurred to me that I look forward to the evenings and the relief from the constant demands on attention—and my rooster is crowing—from phone ringing for sales or survey calls, or the daily hang-up calls.  I get enough noise from the nags inside my head, who are constantly badgering me to do something or other.

Am I the only person on the planet who likes peace and quiet, with emphasis on quiet?  There are people who say they like “white noise.”  They can’t sleep without it.  It is said nature abhors a vacuum.  Even formerly empty space—phone rings, and I hang up without even looking to see who’s calling—is now said to be full of “dark matter” and “dark energy,” suggesting there are no vacuums anywhere.  I wonder if the theorized black holes are actually vacuums, with the common characteristic of sucking everything into them.  Is gravity, then, a vacuum begging to be filled?  Does silence attract sound, like magnets attract iron filings?

Ahhhh . . . The lawn mower has stopped.  My rooster Squire, who I moved to the filing cabinet next to me, is quiet for the moment, looking quizzically at me.  Now, the lawn mower is back.

I used to frequent coffee shops, but no more.  I’m tired of asking the personnel to turn the music down.  How many grocery store or big-box store cashiers have I asked if they get paid extra to listen to the “I Died and Went to Hell” music at top volume?  I tell them to tell their bosses the music is driving customers away.  Has it made a difference, in the years I’ve complained?  “I just tune it out,” a cashier once told me, “but that’s harder to do when it’s skipping.”

In my lifetime, “progress” and “development” has occurred all around my neighborhood.  Not only that, but the perpetual US wars have contributed to an increase in size and activity of Georgia military bases.  One of them, the Hunter Army Airfield, is within a couple of miles—as the jet flies—from my house, with its flight path directly overhead.  I always know when troops are being deployed, because planes fly low overhead every five minutes, headed for Iraq or Afghanistan, or wherever they are sending the testosterone-poisoned to make war this week.

Savannah has grown up around Hunter over the past 60-odd years, but Yankees have invaded on the ground, too, with the conversion of International Paper’s island and former tree farm to a gated community real estate development, complete with three taxpayer-funded bridges over the intra-coastal waterway.  My formerly peaceful residence happens to lie between town and this gilded prison, which  has led to an increase in traffic and more development along the route.  Because of construction and clearing of trees for same, vegetation no longer blocks or absorbs the noise, and the traffic becomes a roar at rush hour, especially when the tide is high.

In order to serve these Yankees and their ilk, the county has courted “progress” in the form of a Walmart and Sam’s Club within hearing distance and adjacent to a new parkway so that the Yankees can get home from town faster.  This brought three stoplights and attendant congestion, along with a street sweeper in the wee hours in the Walmart parking lot.

I put the fear of the lord in the street sweeper at 2 a.m. one night, when he woke me up, because this “progress” along with the “progress” of the grass seeder at International Paper’s real estate development golf courses, has caused my property taxes to double in the last ten years.

Now all governments claim to want “progress” and “economic development,” but the flaw in this reasoning is that current residents are expected to pay for the governments’ desire to attract future residents.  The Yankees gloat about how living expenses are lower here than in the urban cesspools from which they escaped, but they have raised my living expenses, taxes, and have created mayhem on my stomping grounds.

My brother-in-law is not a Yankee, but he loves his power tools, just as the coffee shops love their “Feel My Pain” music, the military loves its helicopters and jets, the Gun Club loves its guns, the whole world loves its SUVs, trucks and other gas guzzlers, the neighbors love their barking dogs, and my roosters love to crow.

What’s the difference between a Northerner and a Yankee?  A Northerner visits and goes home.  A Yankee buys real estate for inflated prices, gets a parkway and bridges built for him, owns a couple of SUVs, and stays to criticize those they have elbowed aside, like the deer on the former tree farm, which now grows houses and golf courses.

I contend the noise is driving everyone crazy, but can people hear themselves think anymore?  Do they want to?

 

 

 

 

 

 

Walmart Sweeps Up

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I took the above photographs in November, 2003, as Walmart moved in on Sandfly, a 200-year old black community that had already lost housing by eminent domain for the Truman Parkway.  The parkway is a SPLOST-funded north-south highway the length of the city, from the Savannah River to International Paper’s gated real estate development on Skidaway Island.  Sandfly was in the way, as was the first air-conditioned drive-in theater in the world, discontinued long ago.  Walmart breezed through Chatham County’s approval process with the collusion of all the real estate developers on the Metropolitan Planning Commission as well as the Chatham County Commissioners.  The process was engineered by the county attorney, who struck panic in the ruling elite by claiming Walmart threatened to sue if denied.

Now, the same county attorney has been given authority by the County Commission to conduct negotiations in secret to eminent domain other parcels for road (and possibly other) improvements, with payment by SPLOST.  At the top of the eminent domain list is Speedwall United Methodist Church, in Sandfly, where the major Walmart opposition held its meetings.  The tax collectors want to replace the church with a roundabout, a totally unnecessary waste of taxpayer money and yet another kick in the groin to Sandfly.

Coincidence?  Let’s just say that Chatham and probably other counties have used the twin weapons of eminent domain and SPLOST since 2005 to run roughshod over the community, primarily the disenfranchised black community, using the power to seize property under any pretext (such as “blighted neighborhood”) and to provide government contracts to insiders to build buildings and roadways funded by SPLOST.  The practice is so entrenched that people have come to believe this is normal.

Probably the best way to stop the bulldozing of middle America is to defeat SPLOST, locally, as well as in other communities that have been conned into this sales-tax add-on.

I wrote the following vignette in November, 2007, after the new Walmart was opened and operational.

WALMART SWEEPS UP
by Katharine C. Otto

I stormed the Walmart bastion at 2 a.m., after machine noise from its street sweeper woke me up, one-half mile away.  I started in the parking lot with the machine’s sweet-looking operator, then spoke with the “Securitas” driver.  She sat with lights flashing while I took pictures of her and the poor little black man who runs the street sweeper and was just doing his job. Then I went inside and accosted Arthur, the assistant manager, who has no last name.  I told off the cashiers and the lone customer inside the store, amidst the acres of Walmart’s trash on the shelves.

“If you didn’t sell so much cheap plastic junk encased in too much packaging,” I suggested, “you wouldn’t have so much litter in the parking lot.”  I didn’t tell him how vigorously I campaigned against this monstrosity of a spot-zone, and it’s not too late to shut it down, if I can’t sleep.

Poor Arthur just looked at me and claimed he didn’t hear the noise.  I should have said that’s because the machine noise inside the store is even louder.  I could have said you get paid to listen to it, but I don’t.  In fact, as a taxpayer and disgruntled neighbor, I pay multiple times to listen to that noise.  Is deafness a job requirement here?

My only cost was the gas and time. A good time was had by all.  Even Arthur had a chance to show how he could be of service.  I told him on the way out – he wanted to hear for himself – that Walmart was exporting money out of town as fast as possible, it was spot-zoned, etc.  I said I’m ready to shut the place down.  Next time, maybe I’ll call the head of the Chatham County Commission at home, so he can hear the noise, too.

Now I wonder why Arthur took me outside, as if he didn’t know what a street sweeper sounds like.  Of course the sweeper was quiet, since I had put the fear of the Lord in the driver before storming Walmart’s inner sanctum

A small audience sat outside the entrance, presumably off-duty employees waiting for the bus.  As Arthur and I stood there, listening to the blessed new silence, I told him I should not be here.  I should be sleeping.

I turned to leave, saying “Good night, everybody,” over my shoulder. I stalked to the car, parked in a handicapped spot in the vast parking lot, empty but for litter, security, the street sweeper, and one or two stragglers.

Actually, we had 2 a.m. twice that night, because we went off Daylight Savings Time. I probably confronted Walmart’s attitude between 2 a.m. and 2 a.m. The clock in the car said something like 2:40 when I drove home.  I relate machine noise to Shape Shifting Alien Reptile vibe sucking. According to author David Icke in Tales from the Time Loop, the Shape Shifting Alien Reptiles (SSARs)  sap human psychic energy and funnel it to their home dimension between the spaces of physical reality.

The fact that I chose the window between the 2 a.m.’s to attack the SSARs in their own dimension is a story for science fiction. I wonder if this has cosmic significance. Of course it does, if I believe it.  The people I met seemed almost grateful to have me raise a stink.  The battlefield has been quiet ever since.

You want entertainment?  Turn off the TV.  Life is in the now.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Stop the Spread of GoverCorp Cancer

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Stop the Spread of GoverCorp Cancer
Value = (Time + Money) X Attitude
Attitude = Everything

 A potentially fatal carcinoma of intra-cranial fat cells, GoverCorp cancer kills its victims by helping them to death. It sucks up time and money and bills you for it. No one is immune, but you can minimize risk.

 The pathophysiology of GoverCorp cancer:

* Money is a tax liability. The less you have, the less you pay in taxes.

* It can’t tax your time unless you allow it.

* GoverCorp cancer victims’ time and money have been terminally taxed. The situation is grave.

Debt + Overhead + Taxation = Slavery

 Risk avoidance strategies to combat GoverCorp cancer:

* Avoid GoverCorp-infested areas that cost time or money.

* Practice “Demand Side Economics.” Demand what you need instead of what they have. Avoid heavily advertised products entombed in plastic and packaging. You and the environment pay their overhead. If it doesn’t work right, return it. Tell everybody. Reduce demand for petroleum products, like plastics, packaging, and acrylic. Shop with sturdy, reusable bags.

* The most nutritious foods are usually the least expensive: fresh produce, dried beans, rice and other grains, dairy. Your money goes into food value rather than processing, packaging, advertising, Wall Street profits, and distribution. If you buy less, you pay less in taxes. If you earn less, you also pay less in taxes.

* Pay off debt. Interest and late fees do not give value for money. This will reduce overhead, debt and taxes.

* Invest in personal and family assets: your home, the tools of your trade, your or your children’s education. Take care of them, and they will take care of you. Enjoy what you already have.

* Patronize local business over corporations. Buy local products (lower distribution costs) when possible. Local businesses are more responsive to local markets. They must stand behind their products, or they don’t stay in business. They reinvest more earnings locally.

* If you have stock in Walmart, sell it. Walmart and other GoverCorp cancer perpetrators bleed local economies by shipping profits out of town.

* Minimize stock investments. Invest closer to home, where you have more control. This provides long-term gains and unexpected dividends. Pay cash when possible or trade in usefulness. Keep a good set of balanced books.

* Get your priorities straight. Technology isn’t essential to survival, but clean air, water and earth are. Get ahead by slowing down. Sell the TV and go fishing.

Diagnosis: GoverCorp Cancer
Treatment: Radical Liposuction and Shock Therapy
Prognosis: Uncertain