Today was an errand running day for me. In my capacity of (volunteer!) Fiberwytch Assistant (or, F’wytchlet), I made my way to acquire some additional storage drawers, a bead-and-charm organizer, and a sync cable that did not come with the new store camera, despite the sales clerk insisting that it did, indeed. Heading out to our big box stores is always interesting to me. If I only look at the buildings, I realize could be Anywhere, USA. It’s a type of magic, really, that playing with reality and space, that something can be the same no matter where in the country one find’s oneself. When I look at the scenery, everything changes. Huge open sky. Mountains in the distance — from one particular vantage point, I can see a snow-capped peak most of the year. At the right time of year (read: most of the year) I can see the storms as they roll in. It’s a beautiful location, and I enjoy the trip out, every time I go. I don’t go often, because I hate shopping. I hate being in stores. I hate being away from home. But, this trip needed to happen, both for the store and for a few things we needed for the house, and so off I went, knitting in tow.
Every time I venture to Walmart, a conflict sets up within my mind and my heart. It’s uncool to be seen as wanting to shop at Walmart. It certain economic sectors it’s undesirable to be seen as financially supporting Walmart as a business, considering how they treat their employees, how they’re underpaid, etc. If that’s not enough, it’s uncool in my particular location to choose to support the big box stores rather than thrift stores or local crafters/artisans/what-have-you. And, of course, I would rather purchase a handmade bedspread than a mass produced polycotton comforter — who wouldn’t? It’s all very well and good to say make do or shop local, don’t support this big box store that does not pay its employees well enough that they can afford to live on their own . . . .
Except, my employer does not pay well enough that I could live on my own. I work full time. I’ve been with them for a decade. If I was on my own, I’d qualify for food stamps. I cannot imagine doing this with children to support. This whole ‘eat locally, live sustainably,’ push is not going to work before we make wages high enough that people can live sustainably. It’s not going to go the other way around. I would love, love to be able to shop thrift stores — but I’m too fat and too short. I’d love to buy handmade or at least locally made goods. I often do go without. Currently, my wardrobe consists of two pairs of slacks for work, two tops for work, a pair of jeans, and one extra top. I own a pair of four year old sandals, and shoes for work that need to be replaced before real winter sets in. (heh. So I’ve got another two months before I have to worry about that.) Today’s trip included getting a second pair of sweatpants because the nights are getting colder, a second pair of jeans for Beth, an umbrella, and a splurge on a second set of sheets for Beth’s bed. I bought a three-drawer plastic drawer unit for the store, because Beth’s storage consists of shoving her material into bags, into the closet. It takes her most of her production time to simply find the material she needs for any given project. I have moral, ethical issues with the amount of plastic in our lives . . . but the solution isn’t always going to be go without, and the changes in a lot of these cases are not going to come at a lower level. How we consume needs to be changed . . . but there are some things that cannot be changed on a individual level.
Never mind that Walmart and Target and other box stores in my area employ local people. My neighbors. You want to see these people working better paying jobs at local-focused industries, that pay them a living wage and allow flexibility? Unless you’re stepping up with a solution to that problem, pipe down. Also, get over yourselves with being too good to shop in “those” places.
I know I dislike shopping in Walmart, but so much of that for me is the atmosphere — not the people (and I despise people making fun of people shopping at Walmart, and how they may or may not look. If you laugh at people based on how they look, shame on you, and kindly remove yourself from my blog, thank you, bye) — but the lights. The vaulted ceiling. The noise echoing. It’s too much background stimulation, and it’s uncomfortable. (As in, now that I’m home, I’m pretty much done for the whole day. I need to nest and regroup). I do like being able to go and get a bunch of much-needed items for a price that isn’t going to break me.
I dunno. Relevant to my spiritual practice because now and again I get full of myself — “I’m going to eat locally! I’m going to eat organically! I’m going to support local artists and craftspeople and recycle/upcycle/do everything from scratch!” Except, I have three jobs. THREE JOBS. And a very expensive dog, a slightly less expensive Beth, a slightly less expensive cat, three low-cost cats 😉 and a house to help upkeep. I don’t have time to do it all from scratch.
Get over yourself, Jo.
And keep it humble. Keep it real. Stop the shame-cycle, even when it’s just effecting yourself.