David Foster Wallace and my own little Walmart story

A big thank you to Mazinbriz for posting this link, which is a commencement speech at Kenyon College in Ohio by the writer David Foster Wallace:


There’s also a youtube version of the speech, and a movie coming out on July 31st about him called “The End of the Tour.”  (Thanks to princesschaos93 for the link.)

His speech starts out like this:

There are these two young fish swimming along, and they happen to meet an older fish swimming the other way, who nods at them and says, “Morning, boys, how’s the water?” And the two young fish swim on for a bit, and then eventually one of them looks over at the other and goes, “What the hell is water?”

The speech is great, and it talks about how we choose to view things, like an average trip to the grocery store.  And it reminded me of a recent trip to Walmart…

Nobody likes going to Walmart.  In fact, many people make fun and look down on those who shop at Walmart.  But since there’s about a $3.00 difference in the price of Claritin-D between Walgreens and Walmart (and since the makers of Claritin-D have decided not to insert coupons this allergy season), I started buying it at Walmart.

Also, Walmart is the only local store that carries the freeze pops I like — Wyler’s Italian Ices, Berry & Cherry Mix.  (Only 60 calories per bar, fat free, and gluten free.)  But there aren’t many other products I buy from Walmart, so every trip feels like an extra, added weight to my grocery shopping.

However, people watching at Walmart is great.  All kinds, all colors, and lots of kids.  I see more dads with their kids at Walmart than at any other store.  And I love that about Walmart.

My latest trip to Walmart for Claritin-D was uneventful, but the pharmacist had a smile on her face and it didn’t take very long.  I’m one of those people who always returns the empty shopping cart to the store, because a long time ago, I had a new car that got dinged by a runaway shopping cart in the wind.  As I was returning my cart, a homeless man resting on the side of the store got up, met me halfway, took my shopping cart, and returned it to the store himself.  What a nice guy!

Well, I didn’t think a “thank you” was enough, so as I was driving past him on my way out of the parking lot, I called him over.  He look worried and concerned, but I smiled and told him I just wanted to say thanks, handing him the last two dollar bills in my wallet.  I said it’s not much, and I repeated, I just wanted to say thanks.  He still looked concerned, but he took the money, and said “Sorry.”  I don’t know what he was apologizing for — maybe for being homeless.  But I felt good about that gesture for the rest of the day, and wish I could have given him more.

As I said, nice guy. 🙂

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