Having just gotten off a plane from Manchester, England, I was pleased to get out into the open air and stretch my legs in the warm spring air of Boston, Massachusetts.

In a couple of days my friend Anne and I will join eight other people on a trip to Waveland Mississippi where we will lend a hand with the ongoing clean-up and rebuilding work taking place after last years hurricane Katrina.

I’m always pleased to come back to America, especially on beautiful warm and sunny days like today. But we’re on somewhat of a tight timetable this Easter weekend as we leave for Waveland early on Monday morning and still needed to get some essential supplies, and so it was decided that on the way back to Anne’s apartment we would make a stop at that great American cornerstone of consumerism, WalMart.

When you’ve just gotten off a plane from England, a journey that has taken some 8 hours not including the check in and immigration time, going to WalMart is not how you want to be re-introduced to America. It’s like getting a sloppy kiss from your mustachioed granny when you were a kid.

It seems that in order to fit in in ‘Fat Wally’s’, as my friend Missy calls it, you really needed to have a lot of cheap gold jewelry, a dated hair style, a badly fitting tight stained top on and a belly that wobbles in a grotesquely unattractive way as you waddle though the crammed isle of the store with everything.

When we were done, and we’re done nearly as quickly as both of us would have liked, we made our way to the checkout. The girl at the counter was hollow and lacking of all character or visible emotion. A human robot assimilated by the borg of the free market.

If you’re British then Imagine Poundland on an Olympic scale and you are somewhere near visualizing the WalMart experience. Aimless consumer drones walking glazed eyed through the maze of isles that manage to make everything look cheap and ugly. I felt like I was in daytime TV Mecca and that a fight would break out at any minute to the chants of “Jerry, Jerry, Jerry!”

WalMart seems to represent everything that is hideous and abhorrent about America. It’s a place devoid of taste and tact, bursting at the seams with tomorrows landfill, a monument to consumerism laid bare and unpleasant like porn that no one wants to see.

Welcome to America indeed.

WalMart stores.
Fast Company looks at Wal-Mart’s practices.
WalMart facts
WalMart Watch : revealong the harmful impact of walmart.
Wake up WalMart : Learn why Wal-Mart needs to change.
WalMart the movie : The High Cost of Low Price.