Tuesday, December 2, 2008

A Stampede to Shop?

Everyone who knows me knows I am not a Wal-Mart fan. I have heard too many stories of how badly they treat their employees, the aisles are crowded and not esthetically pleasing to me, and I find it to be rather dirty and unkempt. I just avoid the place altogether - no matter how great of a sale they are having at the moment. I prefer other stores that are a little classier.

Crowds of people are no new thing on "Black Friday." It has been going on for years. People wait in their cars all night and stand in line for hours to be the first to get a good deal on some junk they probably don't need anyway. The difference is that usually there is some level of order - and class - to the situation. I know, Target, for instance, will only let in fifty people at a time and hire a lot of extra security.

Wal-Mart, in their usual upstanding and caring way (and, yes, I mean that sarcastically) didn't seem to bother with the extra help - even though they knew the crowd was a little too large in the first place. A person was killed! And all to get a good deal on a television - or whatever it was they just had to have?

In the The New York Times' article on the incident, Wal-Mart did their usual dance when questioned:
"A Wal-Mart spokesman, Dan Folgleman, called it a 'tragic situation,' and said the victim had been hired from a temporary staffing agency and assigned to maintenance work. Wal-Mart, in a statement issued at its headquarters in Bentonville, Ark., said: 'The safety and security of our customers and associates is our top priority. Our thoughts and prayers are with them and their families at this tragic time.' ”
Really? Let's see - if I saw 2,000 people banging on the windows and out of control before the doors were even opened, I have to say I would have done whatever needed to be done to get the situation under control before the huge crowd took over. As a man was killed while people were rushing in to shop, "the safety and security of our customers is our top priority" sounds like a script written to quiet down the media.

I realize there should be some accountability from the savages that stepped on this poor man. But there should also be major accountability from the company that let it happen in the first place. I'm sure Wal-Mart could spare a few bucks to open later until the situation was more adequately handled. More security could have been brought in, bullhorns could have been used. They LET it happen when they saw that the crowd was out of control.

We've seen Wal-Mart in the news over and over again. They have had cases of discrimination, and cases of trying to sway employees on how to vote - and vocalization against the
Employee Free Choice Act. The company is also known to keep their employees at 38 hours per week so they don't have to pay health benefits, offer very low hourly wages, and a host of other immoral treatments.

The company seems to make a practice of sticking it to someone who deserves justice or fair treatment. The worst - until now - was the case against Debbie Shank, the woman who was brain-injured and, after winning a litigation, was taken back to court by Wal-Mart to recoup the money awarded. Just once I would like to see Wal-Mart do the right thing.

And people taking shopping as a recreational sport? My response to that - get a life. The frenzy that was created over buying something cheaper than normal is utterly ridiculous. I realize the economy is terrible right now. We are all struggling and prices being lower on something we want is a draw. But at what price? Isn't it still just stuff? This is a human life, a young man who died in a really horrific way.

As for the victim of the stampede, my prayers go out to Jdimytai Damour's family. He was only 34 years old and was a temporary employee hired as a maintenance worker. Why was he put out there in the first place?

Maybe this incident will make people think twice about shopping at the chain now. There are many other choices and this just adds to their already damaged reputation. Besides, most of us have too much useless plastic crap anyway, and Wal-Mart sells the best crap of all.

1 comment:

Strong said...

Don't hold your breath waiting for Wal-Mart to admit their responsibility in this. They'll probably sue the survivors to recover backpay!