Friday, November 28, 2008

One - No, Two - Deaths at WalMart

crossposted at firedoglake 30 nov 2008 and oxdown 29 nov


A man was crushed to death and a woman lost her baby in the madness that is post-Thanksgiving shopping.

I am trying to put myself in the place of those who were lined up, eager to shop for certain items that had limited availability, those folks who wanted to be Good Parents for their child and secure the wii or other urgent item.

I've always been leery of the phrase "I would kill for..." because we are not so evolved that we wouldn't. Taught my children not to say the word kill unless they meant it. Words lose their meaning if they are used in mundane ways. Take care to use the words kill, freedom, God, love, "Help!" when it matters so that these words don't lose their meaning.

A man--a temporary employee--was killed, and a baby was killed, so that good parents, well meaning parents, could be the first in line to get the Christmas items their own children desired.

I am trying to imagine the first person who stepped over the body of the fallen man. Or those who rushed past the stricken pregnant -- but pregnant no longer -- woman on their way to the toy counter. It is human. But very dark. Our first story in recorded human history is that we screwed up. Not sure we've evolved very far past that.

Christmas is deliberately scheduled to be just after the winter solstice, a reminder that light will come again, but maybe not so soon. [Hope this doesn't get me disbarred as a Presbyterian elder.] Those of us with winter depression know that Candlemas on Feb 2 is the better holiday, with the promise of spring coming soon.

But there is darkness all around. I have worked in a country drowning in darkness from the Soviet years, and recognize that my own dear nation is falling into the abyss.

We get trapped in what we feel is the right thing to do. It is an easy armchair condemnation of those shoppers - safely far away - who went too far. Let us be careful to look in the mirror and consider how far we would go, if we had so little money after economic collapse, and such an urgent opportunity to provide for our own.

UPDATE: Peter Goodman of the NYT has much more on this tragedy.


nonplussed said...

I wish I could say "Unbelievable!", unfortunately, in this day and age, it is all too easy to accept. I would add a snarky remark about Walmart shoppers, but we all know this mentality isn't confined to any single group. Then again, no one in my circle shops there (or admits to it, anyway). It's a bit frightening though, picturing a waiting group of Mothers and Fathers devolving into a frenzied mob, simply attempting to get into a Walmart, of all places!

I came here specifically to say how awed I am by your work, Egregious. The charitable work with the children is just so tremendous and your posts aren't too bad, either!

egregious said...

Thanks nonplussed, much appreciated.

Sue said...

eg, if I may call you by your nickname, I think all the talk about parents wanting to provide their children with the latest toys, or indulge their fantasies before the latest wide screen fantasma, is missing what has happened as retail moved to the roots via the intertoobz.

With many thousands ppl earning significant amounts of their income on eBay, the early risers circling the malls Friday were looking for something, anything, they could buy cheap and, within hours, post for resale on eBay. It isn't Elmo for the toddler that fueled the frenzy on Black Friday. Rather it was the chance to score a profit by reselling those loss leaders. It's all a game and the score is kept in $$.

egregious said...

Nonplussed, that is astonishing. Do I have your permission to add that to the post? And would you like credit?

nonplussed said...

Absolutely, Egregious. Any credit is unimportant to me.