And now for a lighter change of pace...
I can tell a lead a rural existence because folks in these here parts, including myself, have been mighty excited these past few months as we've anticipated the grand opening of the Super WalMart, just a town over from where I live. I've been counting down the days not because I'm a huge WalMart fan (Target is my discount store of choice), but because I looked forward to no longer needing to drive the 25 minutes we currently do to our grocery store. Fresh fruits and vegetables and anything remotely resembling a soy-burger product is not to be found in my little town, so we make the hike to a Lowe's Foods in Oak Ridge every Sunday.
So it was with baited breath that I drove the 8 miles this morning to the newly opened Wal-Mart. Even the bored looking greeting girl couldn't dissuade me. WalMart is huge! I couldn't wait to see all the new vegetarian products on the market that I probably didn't even know about. I grabbed a shopping cart big enough to tote around four full-grown men and headed into the aisles.
My first inkling something was off was in the fruit and veggie aisle. While the produce looked good, there wasn't as much of it as I thought there would be. Like all Americans, I like to pick over and reject approximately 200 of the same item before finding the one green or red bell pepper that meets my standards. But I found it odd that there was only pre-packaged celery and the green onions came in a reusable zip-lock bag.
Then there were the concrete floors. I know it's a cost-saving measure, but yecch. Depressing is the best word to describe the aesthetics.
But the real shocker came when I moseyed up to the frozen food aisle, ready to be amazed at the vegetarian smorgasbord that surely awaited me. Instead, I found a few packages of Morning Star grillers and some Boca Burger products. Adequate, but less of an offering than what was at my old store.
I'm not willing to render a final verdict just yet. Certainly the Oak Ridge Lowes store is nicer looking with a better array of products. But WalMart's 6-minute drive still holds a strong appeal. I suspect we'll mix it up a bit, depending on our shopping needs for the week.
And that concludes this week's essay on "Wish You Were Here: Small Town Life in North Carolina." Join us next week as I explore the controversial topic of "Front Porch Couches: Fashion Statement or Decorator Dilemma?"