Wally World does not often impress me but they did on Friday.
The Internoodle is rife with estimates of Wal-Mart’s cost to We the Overtaxed People, protests over sprawl, criticism of their labor practices in this country and the labor conditions in supplier factories around the globe, complaints about unfair treatment specifically of the women who work in the stores and Supercenters, shoddy assembly of most consumer goods driven by the way the firm has reshaped manufacturing around the world, and far more.
Opponents of a planned Wal-Mart here in North Puffin have protested for almost two decades.
PBS reported, “Wal-Mart’s [Vermont] opponents argue that the state’s economy and culture would be damaged by the retailer’s presence. In California, opponents say the company has cost taxpayers millions by shortchanging its employees on healthcare.”
Every bit of the superstore v. Main Street argument is absolutely true.
Wal-Mart built their fourth Vermont store, a 150,000 square-foot box, in Williston in 1997. I shopped there on Friday.
So did a lot of other people from North Puffin because we don’t have a department store in this county.
We didnt need any other shopperamas a decade ago because we still had Ames back then but Ames closed all its retail stores here in 2002. Since then, pretty much everyone in Northwestern Vermont has had only a couple of choices for sox and underwear: buy them at the supermarket or the Dollar store or pay the I-89 tax to drive an hour to the big box center in the next county.
So I spent the $27.50 in gas to drive the truck to Williston on Friday because we don’t have a department store any closer than that. I also had to go to the Sears Auto Center but that’s a story I’ll tell later.
I saw a sign for Wal-Mart Interpreter Services in the pharmacy department. That impressed me and I said so to the pharmacy consultant.
“Surely you don’t have all those interpreters in the store,” I said, “and the tricorder/universal translator isn’t out of Google’s prototype lab yet.”
“Nope,” she told me. “All the customer has to do is point to their language on this card. We call a translator at the home office and Bob’s your uncle.”
The store can handle 12 different languages (13 if you count English) from Arabic to Vietnamese. A mom-and-pop operation can’t afford to keep a dozen U.N. translators on staff.
[Oooo, business opportunity!]
Regular readers know that I will not willingly deal with any company that requires me to “Press 2 for English” in part because immigrants to this great melting pot should help us learn their cultures while they assimilate ours and they need to learn English. Without that, America stops being a melting pot and becomes a nation of tiny, armed, walled, exclusive Arabtowns and Chinatowns and Mexicotowns and Viettowns. That said, Wal-Mart’s system to let them do business in their native tongues means they will do business outside their shell communities and that’s a good thing.
Years ago when I was in military in Europe, I visited Paree durning the busy tourist season and took a stroll down the Champs Elysees where I was spotted by a middle-aged American panhandler. When he saw me, he easily perceived I was American, and so he walked up and made his pitch in perfectly enunciated GIspeak and asked me for fifty cents. It shocked me and surely showed on my face.
But, being a fast-thinker, I stopped and took a perplexed stance and responded in some made-up jibberish that probably would have been on Cheeta’s cue card in a Tarzan movie. It momentarily nonplussed him; but he then made his pitch in at least four different odd-sounding languages — to which I steadfastly maintained my confused expression.
He finally shrugged and walked away in search of an easier target. He was a true professional who had prepared himself for a diverse clientel. He would find lasting employment at the WalMart store in Williston.
“He would find lasting employment at the WalMart store in Williston…”
Where prices have dropped below fifty cents!
“…below fifty cents!
Now that is impressive.
I don’t have a problem with interpreting languages. My ancestors spoke Gaelic when they arrived.
The USA attracts the hardest working, most ambitious people in the world. We then teach English to their children; and then they become the best citizens in the world.
My ancestors came to dig ditches; today’s immigrants come to cut the grass.
@Ted: “The USA attracts the hardest working, most ambitious people in the world. We then teach English to their children…
Except there is the politically correct movement to encourage immigrants to eschew English (and learning American culture) in favor of staying separate.
Hmmm. Separate. I hadn’t realized until right now just how fearful the PC pushers are: perhaps they don’t want to integrate the immigrants — they want foreigners to stay foreign (in the name of diversity) and separate from thee and me and particularly themselves.
Herr Blogmeister, if you are just now recognizing that ploy from the Left your are decades behind the curve.