An Arduous Journey
Walking in, the immense compound swallows me into its vast interior. Although I am prepared---having made the trip before--- I fully understand that success will rely on a combination of luck, timing, and chance. Every visit to the compound is as eye opening as the first.
I never get used to the sights. The dialect, the indescribable actions, not to mention the language. I have read in books about the once fine standards of the human race, each visit here leads me to question the authenticity of the authors.
Inside, I have found that it is best to blend in to the flow of foot traffic. Keeping my head down, I focus on my task. I catch broken bits of dialogue in passing, grunts and mumbles for the most part. Language has been spliced and stripped down to simple form, involving the least amount of effort to convey meaning. Gestures and shrugs replace words, and emotion is expressed through volume, the loudest wins the debate.
Confrontation is commonplace as barriers of human decency have crumbled and left little restriction on conduct or courtesies. The biggest and strongest survive and aggression festers beneath the surface.
I pick up my pace.
The concrete floors of the compound are by design, having to withstand large machinery carrying supplies and goods. Small motorized vehicles rumble by, and I keep to the edge of the well traversed concourse. Practicality takes precedent over appearance, and little thought is given to decor.
It's not long before I am lost in the maze of activity. I venture off the main course out of fear of being trampled. Off to the side, I remember not to stare, much of the herd becomes threatened and will attack if it feels a threat looming. I continue into the maze, zig sagging through pockets of inactivity before coming back out to the traffic.
Errant children dart out from behind a box, giggling as they scurry into the crowd. Their clothes are dirty and stained, one holds a sword and the other brandishes a spear of some sort. .
An older man carries a spade shuffle as he shuffles past me. He has sad eyes and worn boots, one of which drags on the tarmac. I’m contemplating where he may be headed when from behind I feel a bump.
A small tribe marches by without a second thought. They are led by a portly man who wears a scowl underneath a backwards baseball cap. He is followed by woman and child, and he bickers with her about something I cannot hear over the clicking commerce overhead.
I’m lost in the movement. The herd slogs on without thought or reason. Lights flash overhead, radiant colors that grab attention and corral us to certain sections where we will be contained and controlled. I remind myself why I have come, gathering what I need and turning back, knowing my journey is only half complete.
Jumping in with another stride, I mesh with the others and hope not to be noticed. I pass a hunter. His facial hair long and rugged, he wears the wandering look of the outdoors-man. I spot a vendor, selling gold bracelets and necklaces, and then a landscaper with a rose bush. A mechanic passes, his large begrimed hands carry filters and motor oil.
I’m almost there.
I’m patient as I wait to go free, observing the diversity amongst the crowd. A man picks his nose with little regard for those around him. A heavyset mother scolds her children. I take a deep breath, it is my turn, I lay down my supplies which are taken, inspected, and scanned before I am given my number.
Thank you for choosing Walmart. Your total is 34.97
I have made it through, surviving the depths and elements of the store and now stand before the cashier. This is when I realize that I've forgotten my wallet.