They Want to Build a Wal-Mart on My Cat
When you live in the suburbs, it’s only a matter of time before Wal-Mart comes calling. Depending on whom you ask, Wal-Mart’s a job creator or a town destroyer, but I never gave it much thought. To be honest, I probably wouldn’t be causing a fuss about the one they want to build in my town if it weren’t for the proposed location: directly on my cat, Oreo.
That’s the kind of thing that can turn anybody into an activist—even me.
A few months ago, Wal-Mart set up this town hall meeting where people could go to supposedly have their concerns addressed. It was all the stuff you’d expect: questions about how local businesses would be affected, low wages, and so on. But what I wanted to know, point-blank, was what would happen to my kitty cat after they constructed a new 190,000-square-foot Supercenter right on top of him. The PR woman would only say that Wal-Mart was looking forward to becoming “part of the neighborhood,” as it had in hundreds of other communities just like ours.
“But what about my cat?” I said. “He’s not going to survive the first five seconds of construction, and you know it. He’s like this big.” I held my hands about a foot apart.
“We value your concerns, but remember that Wal-Mart has brought jobs and greater consumer choice to every town or cat it has invested in,” she said. “I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised. And you know what? I think Oreo will be, too.”
“What he’ll be is dead, like all the others.”
Oreo wasn't the first. I’d found out about a cat in Denver; a ferret in Passaic, New Jersey; a basset hound in Coral Springs, Florida; a 60-year-old parrot in Edmond, Oklahoma. None of it made any sense. What was the competitive advantage of building a discount store on an eight-pound animal? What's the business strategy there? Because this is one shopper who will never buy groceries on his cat’s bulldozed corpse.
The woman said: “A Supercenter isn’t just a full-service supermarket. It’s a one-stop destination with a bank, nail salon, pet store, and portrait studio.”
She smiled and said she had to get to everyone’s questions and leave time for snacks.
What am I supposed to do? Wal-Mart has won over thousands of towns like mine, chipped away at their resistance until nothing matters but cheap clothes, cheap potato chips, cheap razor blades. It also doesn’t help that Oreo is an indoor cat who isn't great around people and can be kind of a shit sometimes.
Groundbreaking is set for next week. The mayor and a bunch of Wal-Mart execs are going to be here with ceremonial shovels to dig into my cat—unless I manage to stop them. I’m planning to let her out of the house and make them search under every car and up every tree in town.
Should they find her, well, they’ll just have to dig through my body to get to hers. If that’s my fate, then so be it. Something tells me Wal-Mart gets around to everyone eventually.
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