Sometimes....infrequently…once in a while…I find myself in Walmart on a Saturday night, grabbing a box of movie candy, a DVD, a magazine, or something else just as frivolous but necessary for the instant gratification and entertainment that the evening requires.
And a Saturday night at Walmart is always so profoundly depressing. (Nothing against Walmart. I am not above shopping there. It’s just that depressing things about it are magnified on weekends after 9pm.) The fluorescent lights present the place with all the charm of a prison. The outdated pop songs being pumped into one’s ears create an eerie enough mood that one might wonder if they’re in a B-horror movie, their predator waiting for them in the parking lot to follow them home. The floors reek of generic hospital floor cleaner, as if vomit had just been cleaned up on aisle five. No smiley-faced sign indicating a price cut is met with a smile from me, for no bargain is worth being at Walmart on a Saturday night. And the people. “Have they nowhere else to go?” I wonder. But I cannot pass judgment. Although I feel like an outsider, I’m there, too, standing in the checkout line with the rest of them, feeling like a Death Eater is sucking my soul out of me. (Not to be dramatic or anything.)
Now, try to think of a place opposite this one. A place that is life-giving, engages one’s heart, hugs one’s soul as he enters its doors. Of course…the bookstore.
I went to a bookstore last night...and I felt so alive and happy. (No Death Eaters.) I loved hearing the coffee being made amidst the soft jazz music, and smelling the books, and thumbing through them, and looking at their covers. I felt a sense of belonging. I felt camaraderie among the anonymous kindred spirits around me, knowing that we could have interesting conversations. I heard novels saying, “Pick me!” Plays calling, “Lisa! Hi!” Collections of poems shouting, “Over here!” Never is my self-control at its weakest. I’d spend any Saturday sitting there with a coffee and a good story.
So, Walmart, next time I need some Junior Mints before my 10pm movie, can you just dim the lights a bit, play some jazz, throw some retro book cover posters on your walls, and smell like books and coffee? Because that would be really great for me…