It's been getting rather hot in our apartment, owing to an unseasonably hot June and the fact that our apartment's window panes were built with early 20th century materials. On my way back from my photography class at the local community college, Patrick asked me to pick up a few of those wonderful little Honeywell circulator fans. It being rather late in the evening, Walmart was just about the only option at the witching hour of 10:00 PM on a Thursday.
On my way, I was joking with my mother on the phone about the kinds of things that can happen at Walmart. In her locality, there was recently a burning car in the parking lot of the Walmart there. When the fire was extinguished, the trunk was found to have contained a murder victim. I joked that if this were to happen at our Walmart, they would probably bring the car in and restock it among the rotisserie chickens, not before sticking it with a by-the-pound Deli sticker, of course.
Indeed, Walmart has achieved such massive economy of scale that a store could allow just about anything to go down on its premises, and stay in business. Oh, except let a paying customer leave with their property. Enter the Walmart Jackboot.
For stomping necks all the way down the runway. Image, logo courtesy Walmart.
I paid for my three fans at the self checkout, which stares you down with a camera, bright light, and screen for you to see yourself being surveilled, as you exchange money for goods. I strolled to the store's only open egress, which had a receipt checker stationed at it. He motioned to see my receipt, and I politely declined. It was hardly a few seconds before I heard the, until now, somewhat unfamiliar sound of a purposeful loss prevention jog coming up behind me. An off duty sheriff's deputy stood in front of me and my three fans, blocking my exit. What I suppose was the manager stood beside her.
"Sir, you're going to need to show me your receipt."
Once again, I politely declined.
"Sir, it's Walmart policy that you have to show your receipt before you can leave."
So I was detained, then. I made a stink about it, and in a hasty decision that I now regret, showed her the receipt.
"See, was that so hard?"
I explained to her my position. These fans were my property. I am not under obligation to show her my paperwork. She had no right to block my exit.
"You're free to go, bye sir."
Yeah. You're free to go. I'm not a free person in between the time I exchange my hard-earned money for a few fans to cool my home, and the time that I show a Walmart Jackboot my papers. Within that window, I am a man without a country, no rights, and no freedom of movement. If I do not comply, then they'll stick a deli sticker on me and stock me among the rotisserie chickens.
I joke, but this is a lesson, perhaps a window into the future. Agents of the state demanding papers to make sure we did nothing wrong. Unwarranted searches being applied as the individual Walmart Jackboot sees fit. And if you're not okay with that, then you're the Karen making a scene (both the Walmart Jackboot and the night manager had to stop themselves from calling me some sort of name, I assume either "Karen" or "bitch").
The fans cost $0.03 more at Target. Three pennies is the value you're getting from the Walmart Jackboot. Is that worth it?
(Of course, Target has their own skeletons.)
Tags: daily life, liberty, politics, privacy 1 comment
I would be remiss if I didn't mention this. This was an annoying, non-violent, if slightly silly situation for me. Some people, and disproportionately people of color, have had this kind of thing escalate to a deadly conflict on them. Philando Castile. Daunte Wright. George Floyd.
Hopefully the Walmart Jackboot is not racist, and will stomp any neck without any regard to their race or color. But this thought keeps coming into my head, what if I was a different race? What if she didn't like that race? What happens when a black man tries to do the same thing I did? What if she's still mad about having had to threaten me with force that she exacts her revenge on somebody she, perhaps subconsciously, sees as a lesser being?
That's the problem with these stupid control mechanisms. They hurt people in very real ways, and then put out a negative and pessimistic vibe for the rest of the world.