11 thoughts on “Biking to Wal-Mart”

  1. Ha, I’m reminded of the time a few years ago when I biked to the drive-through at the Taco Bell on Emmet. Naturally there wasn’t anywhere to lock up and I was hungry from shopping. Apparently their sensors couldn’t pick up a bike so their microphone wouldn’t turn on. Every now and then I would hear someone yell “Is there someone there?” and then silence while I waited and cars piled up behind me. Eventually a manager told me to come up to the window and then sternly informed me, “We don’t serve bicycles in the drive through!” I pointed out that there was no place to lock up and they refused service, so I went home and ate there. I don’t go there so much.

  2. I actually think this is more a problem with Charlottesville than just Wal-Mart.

    My wife and I hold an annual scavenger hunt with our friends. Instead of actually procuring items, they have to take pictures of items.

    Two years ago, several teams went to the Charlottesville Wal-Mart to take pictures of some items (books, DVDs, etc.) and got booted out of the store. No real reason, either. For all the manager knew, they were just taking pictures of items for future comparison.

    Fast-forward to this year and several teams decided to go to the Waynesboro Wal-Mart to take pictures of items. Instead of getting booted, they actually had several employees helping them out by telling them which aisle things were on, etc.

    There just seems to be a certain mindset that is pervasive in Charlottesville: do as little as possible to help the customer.

    Another example. My wife and I got a waffle maker for as a wedding gift. It’s not something we use a lot, so it was a good 3 months before we used it and on the second waffle the thing stopped working. We read online that other people had the same issue and couldn’t get any help and had to go all the way back to the manufacturer. We decided to give the Waynesboro Bed, Bath, & Beyond a try.

    Not only did they swap the waffle maker with no questions despite us not having any form of a receipt, they also gave us a receipt for the new one just in case we had an issue with it. In other words, they were ensuring we’d have even less “hassle” if we had to come back!

    I can go on and on and on with differences in customer services and/or shopping experiences between the same corporate chain on both sides of the mountain and every time the Waynesboro side comes out ahead.

    Though the story is funny and I applaud the author for pointing out the ludicrous nature of Wal-Mart’s “logic,” I think she would have had a much easier time if she happened to live in Waynesboro. The big corporations only have so much say in the day-to-day activities of their stores. For the most part, it’s the employees that determine if you’ll have a pleasant experience or not.

  3. I used to ride my bike up to a Kmart in Virginia Beach when I was a kid to run errands for my mom. But after I got hit by a car in the parking lot, I just didn’t have the same enthusiasm for it anymore.

    You’re never going to get much in the way of customer service from Wal-Mart, but the Cville store is worse than any other I’ve been in.

  4. I liked the story, though I found myself feeling kind of sorry for the Wal-Mart greeter. I agree that the no-bikes policy (if it even is a policy) is stupid and obtuse and anti-bike etc. etc. But I think it owes more to MegaCorporate Culture in general than to Wal-Mart specifically. Here’s an under-empowered drone doing a stupid pointless job in a workplace that is characterized by REAMS of stupid pointless rules and regulations, that is overseen by layer after layer of only slightly less drone-like “managers” who have nothing better to do than see that the stupid pointless rules are enforced…this is “work,” yet nothing of value is produced, the worker is hard-pressed to feel a sense of pride in a job well-done, there are countless indignities visited up on the workers every day (check out Ehrenreich’s book for details).

    So here’s granny-greeter who probably lives in something like fear of her Corporate Overlords and who is thoroughly indoctrinated in the culture of mindless obedience to stupid rules, and GOOD GOD here comes a BICYCLE into Wal-Mart. This is totally out of left field for her — this is America, after all, land of car-worshippers. Not being encouraged or empowered by her employer to think for herself, to analyze, to make individual decisions, she reverts to the Rule Book. And even though there is probably no rule on the books about bikes in Wal-Mart, she defaults to the Great American No, as in “no, that’s kind of weird, and thus it must be against the rules.”

    We just don’t have many kinds of employment left in the US that allow workers to think for themselves and apply logic to one-off situations. It’s all got to be standardized and rule-oriented and controlled. I think it’s hard to feel respected and dignified as an employee any more in the US unless you’re at the upper echelons or in certain fields of work.

  5. I’m sure if the person had knocked someone down in Wal-Mart with their bike, the lawsuits would be flying within minutes and people would be blaming Wal-Mart for allowing bikes in the store.

  6. I’ve never known anyone to more prone to knock
    Someone down because they’re walking a bike.

  7. Walking a bike would be no more dangerous or annoying than walking a shopping cart or stroller.
    Great story-

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