Fear of a Black Superstore

Yeah, so there’s really no easy way to bring this up.

I’ve finally gotten around the point in this blog where I, reluctantly and with much consternaton against what I consider to be the necessary upkeep of a fragile sense of personal dignity, finally talk about SOMETHING PERSONAL.  And let’s not pussy-foot around the issues, here, because everyone has demons and everyone has their weaknesses.  I have chosen to shine a light on mine: call it a whiff of hopenchange syndrome if you like, though the manly men among me, insomuch as they even bother to read this blog (or anything else at all) would probably beat me about the face and neck for revealing, reveling, and altogether casually admitting beyond all shadow of doubt, that yes indeedy-do, I’ve got some ISSUES that need the light shone upon them.

My principal fears these days do not revolve around my imminent death.  It is not the utter horror of commercialism and crass convenience that afflicts us all on a daily basis, though both of these things (death and Circle K, respectively) do indeed send my liberal self down with the vapors every so often.  No, my greatest viscereal fear is fairly simple but mighty perplexing:

I fear Wal-Mart.

Of course, it’s not quite so simple as that.  I could walk into a Wal-Mart circa 1995 with no problem at all.  I do have a problem, though – and when I say problem, I mean cold-sweat inducing fear – with the superstore as it has evolved since 1995: Super Wal-Mart, Target, Costco, Sam’s Club, even the new Mega Kroger grocery complexes.  You can probably already imagine the type I mean: you come for groceries, you stay to buy a large-screen TV, and get a haircut, and an oil change while you wait for the anonymous pharmacist to ring up your latest Amoxicillin presciption.

Of course it isn’t the fact that being able to do all these things in themselves is what scares me.  No, what irks me is the gargantuan warehouses that these places now require in order to offer such a huge range of service.  If you’ve ever seen the movie Idiocracy by Mike Judge, then you know immediately the sort of vibe I am hinting at:

But even this, as tasteless as it is, is not what makes me cringe.  I am, after all, an American: we make tacky into cool on a daily basis.  This is part of our collective charm, soulless though it might be.

No, the fact of the matter is that I am no longer comfortable in large spaces like Wal-Mart, and you can toss aside any moral objections I might have once had to such places;  I did indeed avoid Wal-Mart like the black plague for many years, but it is only in the last two years or so that I really just can’t even consider walking into such a place for fear of “losing my shit”, to put it as scientifically as possible.

It feels like a kind of agoraphobia, although I know that doesn’t really get at it, since I can enter an open field of any other kind and be completely at ease, even comforted by it.   But it is a KIND of agoraphobia, I suppose, since it is certainly true that when you enter a place the size of four large-scale airplane hangars and one is expected to navigate one’s way to the Electronics section, one is immediately forced to reckon with something MUCH bigger than one’s self.

I simply feel very small in these places, and totally unprepared for the challenge of having to make my way along the mazelike corridors of modern commerce.   I also feel small looking at the sky at night, though, as I’m sure most thinking people do, but I’d much prefer to be stranded on a starship in the middle of the Kuyper Belt than to be caught unawares in a Target, and this strange dichotomy between what SHOULD freak me out and what in fact DOES freak me out is really, well, freaking me out.

I could go on and on about the minor details of the things that have occurred to me when I am in these places: the forced anonymity, the cultural black hole of the shopping experience; I could even expound on the piss-poor lighting, which really turns me off.  But at the end of the day, what drives me away from Superstores is something I just simply cannot explain, though I’d like to get to the bottom of it.

So the question for me is simple: what is it going to take to get me over this naked fear?  I currently have no answer I’m ready to contemplate, though I have an idea.  Like most other things in life, sometimes you just have to suck it up and work through it.  I feel this is basically inevitable: since I work in IT, one day a job is going to come my which requires the leap into one of these places, and I cannot jeopardize my work just to get out of facing what is turning into bigtime baggage.  So to be proactive, I’m going to set a foot into a Wal-Mart this week.  I probably won’t get too far past the food court or the hair cuttery, but nonetheless I’m going to give it a shot.

If it merits a mention, I’ll be sure to explain what happened when the situation demands it.  But it’s not going to be fun, or easy, or even bearable.  What it is, is necessary, and that is all I need to concentrate on in order to begin to get over it.

I realize this is so silly to whoever will read this, but it’s real to me, and it feels like a real burden at this point.  Like I said, everyone has their weaknesses: mine happen to reside in the realm of  the inexplicable and ridiculous.  But as of yet, I’ve not been able to make much headway in facing it down, and I think it’s something I’ve put off way too long.  So wish me luck, would you, and I’ll promise not to tell everyone how scared you are of spiders.  Oops.

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3 Responses to “Fear of a Black Superstore”


  1. 1 Amy Herrington December 15, 2009 at 11:34 am

    Do you remember when Mom would let us go with her to Wal-Mart or Roses and immediately the promise of getting a toy filled our selfish little souls. I mean, as soon as Mom said that I could get a toy I started mapping out how to get to the toy section of that store in my head and what I was looking for. I think you have to approach these types of stores with the same mentality. You must have a game plan. If you walk in with some vauge idea of needing something to cook for dinner you will absolutely walk out with everything but what you came for. Or just walk around for two hours, get tired, frustrated and leave. I know your fears go past mere frustration, but do not think that you are the only one who wishes those places didn’t make you feel small. I think most men have an aversion to those stores and only go when they absolutely have to. I know Britt hates being around alot of people, and will usually sit in the truck and wait for me to come out.

    • 2 bootsinowski December 16, 2009 at 11:56 pm

      Well, you know, even J- is uncomfortable there. I actually can’t think of anyone who actually enjoys it, though I’m sure they exist, and I envy them a little bit. I’ve often thought that just a lower ceiling and some halogen or soft LED lighting would probably make it a much better experience, and not just for the weirdos by any means.

  2. 3 Jeannie December 17, 2009 at 3:46 pm

    Hey, don’t worry. I’m afraid of moths. Jesus Christ, moths. C’mon, that’s just ridiculous. At least there are cases of people actually dying in WalMart. No one has ever listed “moths” as the cause of death in an obit.


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