This post may appall and infuriate many of you... Those kind of feelings just help to remind you that you are alive, so... You're Welcome!!
Before I started this trip I was not one of the people who was adamantly opposed to Walmart, but it wasn't my first choice; in fact, it was generally my last. The small college town I went to University in had very few options for shopping at the time that I attended, and Wal-Mart was the best option, especially because I didn't have a vehicle and had to mooch rides to get anywhere so the prospect of one stop shopping was very alluring.
During my post college years I lived in San Francisco. There is no Walmart there and I'm sure, because of the amazing amount of anti consumerism/anti capitalist activism that goes on there, Walmart will not be allowed to set up shop inside the city limits. Plus there are about fifty million other, better options to get the wares that one might need. In the decade that I spent in the bay area I went to Walmart (in Oakland) twice, to escort my Pop who swears it's his favorite store.
One night, just before I embarked on the RV adventure I went out with a friend who drives a VW Westfalia camper van. We were out very late and didn't know if we would make it all the way home. He saw a Walmart and remarked that we could always stay there. I thought he was just saying that because they have a big parking lot and that it would make sense that we could stay there. It turns out that Walmart (corporate, each Walmart gets to write their own policies on the rule) has a policy that people can use the Walmart parking lot for overnight parking. That probably seems like not that big of a deal, but I dare you to find a place to park at 2 am in the middle of a medium sized city while driving a vehicle that obviously has a bed or two inside. It isn't impossible, but it is very difficult and nerve wracking especially when sleep deprivation is at play.
So, since embarking on the cross country adventure I now call my life I have stayed at over twenty different Walmarts across the United States. I know that many of the anti-capitalists are appalled that this corporation has taken over so much of America that it's nearly impossible to pull into a town without spotting a Walmart, and that's valid. However in the case of my life, it is brilliant. I have a place to stay almost anywhere that I go. Not just anyplace either, a place where one can get almost anything in the world (consumable) for ridiculously low prices.
Before I get rolling eyes or mean comments please know that I understand the policies for which Walmart has gotten a bad name, I understand that the business practices and employee treatment deserves the fire that it gets, but every cloud has a silver lining.
There is another aspect about staying in the lot that makes it easier to acclimate to the particular place we are in, and it is that every Walmart is a little bit different based on the demographic that it serves. I know that probably seems obvious, but, for example:
Some Walmarts have guns and ammo, those are the places where the boyfriend and I have to put all traces of queer in our pockets or risk having the way our faces look by the fists of rednecks
Some Walmarts put the make-up section right next to the food and the baby section just behind that. Those are the places where the boyfriend and I don't drink the water for fear of falling victim of the overwhelming patriarchy and unplanned pregnancies.
There are a few that have extensive craft sections. These, in my experience NEVER have guns or ammo, have brighter colors of makeup and nail polish and tend to have a more vibrant display of produce. The boyfriend and I tend to make friends easily in those towns.
In towns that are surrounded by farms and/or many other small towns, Walmart tends to be a little more sparse. They tend to carry bulk food items (like 20 lb bags of sugar) and the fashion options are jeans, overalls and sweat suits.
I think it would be fair to say that the boyfriend and I have become Walmart connoisseurs. Though there have been moments where my future looked bleak waking in the parking lot of Walmart for the fourth or fifth day in a row, all-in-all I'm happy about their policy and glad I always have a place to stay. Walmart even says it on their sign.Thanks Walmart!
Tune in next time when I Zia Sophia sing the praises of McDonald's, High Fructose Corn Syrup and Halliburton.