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An Arduous Journey

Updated on March 16, 2013

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.


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    • weestro profile image

      Pete Fanning 4 years ago from Virginia

      Haha, thanks copper Man!

    • profile image

      Copper Man 4 years ago

      Great story. This one I read word for word right to the surprise ending. I think I have shopped in that very same WalMart.

    • DDE profile image

      Devika Primić 5 years ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

      An interesting story and so well written thanks for sharing your work Voted up and interesting

    • torrilynn profile image

      torrilynn 5 years ago

      Hi weestro,

      thanks for this hub and for sharing

      this story. really great.

      Voted up

    • brownella profile image

      brownella 5 years ago from New England

      Great hub, it's amazing how blind we become to the reality of our own surroundings, we've become so used to the gradually introduced system that we don't see how crazy it is. Well written!

    • weestro profile image

      Pete Fanning 5 years ago from Virginia

      Thanks for reading DrJez, glad you enjoyed!

    • weestro profile image

      Pete Fanning 5 years ago from Virginia

      thanks Kathy, Retail, Scifi, kinda one and the same!

    • DrJez profile image

      DrJez 5 years ago from Narara NSW Australia

      I really enjoyed this! Thanks!

    • KathyH profile image

      KathyH 5 years ago from Las Vegas, Nevada

      Hmmm... somewhere along the way I started thinking ... "this sounds like when I used to work in retail!" Then, lo and behold... too funny, Weestro! Hopefully you haven't had the "I left my wallet at home" experience too often. :)

      Great job and a fascinating and entertaining lesson on the sometimes uncommon human... something or other... I just lost my train of thought! I need a train whistle! ;)

    • weestro profile image

      Pete Fanning 5 years ago from Virginia

      Thanks Xstatic, I was hoping I wouldn't give it away. Glad you enjoyed it!

      Thanks Becky, I appreciate it!

      Sure Wayne, thanks for reading and sharing!

    • wayne barrett profile image

      Wayne Barrett 5 years ago from Clearwater Florida

      Excellent! Very well written. I was thinking Sci Fi...but I guess, as you so well portrayed, There's really not much different. Sharing here and on FB if that alright with you?

    • Becky Katz profile image

      Becky Katz 5 years ago from Hereford, AZ

      Wonderful. I thought you had gone sci-fi on me. The last two little paragraphs were pricelessly done.

    • xstatic profile image

      Jim Higgins 5 years ago from Eugene, Oregon

      You had me on this one right to the last line! I thought we were heading into a Twilight Zone sort of place, well...I guess we were actually! Great story here!