El Paso (Then Dayton)

By all early indications, there has been another mass shooting -and there have been quite a few of these in recent years. This time, it was a Walmart in a mall in El Paso. In my life, I’ve been through that lovely town in west Texas (twice in 2000), and I’ve worked at two Walmarts (one in Charlotte, NC and one in Largo, FL) – so this hits a little close to home as the Vegas shooting did.

Why it happened, who did it, and what was his motivations (assuming the early reports it was a white male are true) – that will be revealed in the hours and days to come.

Both sides will score their political points as they always do – because, when don’t they score their points? I must tell you that I don’t think this is a gun control issue as much as some in the media would like you to believe it is. I don’t own my guns – and I hope I never will. However, take away the guns from everyone and the bad guys will still find ways to pull off these incidents no matter how illegal you make firearm usage – so that changes nothing in itself.

Personally, I think it’s a mental health issue more than anything else. People wanting their 15 minutes of fame – people wanting to be known as “that guy” in the history books.

I simply wish it would stop – and I’ve probably said that a few times over the years, too.

(EDIT, 8/4/2019, 10:00 AM:) What I wrote above, I wrote on August 3rd. The following day (today, as I type this) I turn on the computer and see that there was another shooting in Dayton, Ohio which killed 10 – including the shooter who extinguished the lives of the first nine of that incident.

My thinking hasn’t changed – though I’m sure the politicians will yell at each other a little louder.

Fake Boobies At Walmart

One of the more viewed blog entries I’ve had in the five and a half years I’ve been doing this blog was called “Sideboob Hour At Walmart” that I wrote back in October of 2013.

Well, wait until you hear this one. And no, this isn’t going to go where you think it’s going to go.

The last couple of nights, I’ve been seeing Walmart ads on Facebook, with suggested items to buy designed just for, I assume, the Facebook user in question; namely me. Twice in a row, I get hit with the same suggested item: falsie breasts for transvestites, on sale for $29.95.


I can assure my audience here and now that I’ve never had the need or want to get fake female breasts, even for under $30, even at Walmart. Truth be told, I once wore women’s clothes as a teenager on a dare. It was not a pleasant experience. Haven’t mentioned it anywhere on the Internet until now.

I’ve also had a good amount of pectoral fat ever since I was a child. To a degree, think of the Meat Loaf character in Fight Club, just not to the degree of the problem Meat’s character had. But how could Walmart have known something like that, to give me an ad from an element in my life so obscure and long forgotten.

Just weird, wild stuff, not to mention a bit creepy.

The Telltale Hot Dogs

I’ve been going to Wally World on Sundays lately, with Mothers Day Sunday being no exception. 

It wasn’t a great day by any means. The store was unusually crowded for a mid-morning, so everywhere you had to go, someone was already there in all likelihood. 

I check out, several items later. Then when I put everything away, it hits me. 

“Didn’t I buy hot dogs today?  You know, those New York Sabrett hot dogs you like? Where are they?”

I do my forensics. I look at the receipt. Hot dogs are on there near the bottom. I asked the check out lady if I had retrieved everything from that rotating tray that houses the plastic bags for filling. She said nope, I had everything, and I had thought so as well. 

That means somewhere between there, loading and unloading the car, they disappeared. 

It happens once in s while, you get something but what you get doesn’t make the trip home with you, somehow or some way. I just wonder, at least for now, where it got lost. 

Pauly The Walmart Janitor

A trip to Walmart months back produced this kind of haul…

When I can’t pull a story out of the present, as with the writer’s block I had yesterday, I share with you a story from my life.

One of the reasons I talk about Walmart frequently on this blog is that I was a janitor for a store in southeast Charlotte, North Carolina for a year from 1999 to 2000. (That’s a regular Walmart, not one of the Supercenters.) It was pretty mundane, actually. I cleaned and buffed the floors at various times around the store. On occasion, we’d also remove the wax and re-wax a given area of the store, which I was never all that good at. I would also vacuum and sweep the carpeted floors when I wasn’t giving the floors their often needed wax-ons and wax-offs. If emergencies arose, such as spills, or if they needed an extra hand to make sure someone got to their car safe, I’d likely be called to tend to it.

Let me put it to you this way: 16 years and change from having worked there, if you gave me the tools and asked me to do the same job today, I couldn’t remember it to save my life.

A few months after I started working there, I wasn’t the only member of my family there: my mother began working at the same store, which is probably why I stuck around so long.

The one day I’ll always remember was the shift leading up to Black Friday of 1999. My boss Steve, a great guy, was working everyone over as if the store’s appearance was a life or death struggle. You know how it’s said Christmas sometimes turns normal people into maniacs? That was us that night. My goal was to keep a low profile and do whatever my higher-ups wanted.

Remember that this was 17 years ago, and Black Friday that year is probably a cake walk compared to the “zombie apocalypse” it is now. The store re-opened for business at 6:00 am the day after Thanksgiving. Usually I got off work at 6:30, but they told me to take off before the store was besieged by shoppers, as the next shift was already in place to handle them. I left around 6:02, and I was lucky not to be knocked down by the hordes of people who came in, frantically looking for the best deals to put under their Christmas trees.

Just another one of the many stories of my Forrest Gump like existence.

20 Items Or More

It was another trip to Walmart on an early Wednesday morning, getting to the store just before sunrise at 6:30.

Why do I always talk about my Walmart trips? They’re like snowflakes. No one trip to the store, no matter what the hour, is like any other trip to Wally World. Each trip is like its own individual experience. I might get the same thing every time I go, but the list is never same. The impulse buys are never the same either, as they are masters of placing something in the store, it’s mere location setting off some kind of psychological enticement, kind of like how Facebook plays games with your head.

The store I visit in Pinellas Park made a major change if you pay by debit card, as I often do. You no longer swipe your card in the slot of the right side of the card machine. It recognizes if you have a chip in your debit card (mine does), so doing things the old familiar way can’t be done. You have to stick your card in the slot in the bottom of the machine, which is how most stores do business these days. I find it a bit of a pain, but it’s one of those things done for security purposes.

I went to checkout this morning, and I was pleased to see that unlike my last blog entry a few weeks back, they had a register open that wasn’t restricted to 20 items or less. Not only that, they had a lady at the register AND a lady who bagged the groceries for me, as I was the only one in line. While that’s good in some respects, it keeps me busy most of the time because you’re putting things on the moving counter AND you usually have to bag things quickly after all of that effort.

When I go early and amble out of Walmart, I sometimes notice I’ve worked up a tiny bit of sweat. With summer time near, maybe I should just go at more normal times.

The Transgendered Are People Too


I remember back in 2007 hearing about the transgender issue for the first time. The city manager of Largo Florida, Steve Stanton, wanted to become Susan Stanton by way of having a sex change. When I read about it in what was then the St. Petersburg Times, I thought somebody had slipped a copy of The Onion on my doorstep disguised as the Times.

At the time, the bulk of Largo City Council was conservative if not of an older generation, and considered Stanton’s sex change something akin to sacrilege. Upon hearing of Stanton’s wishes to become a woman, the he who was about to become a she was promptly fired by the city commission who declared the sex change to be a breach of trust. My opinion at the time was that Stanton should have been allowed to stay on as the city manager, and that changing genders in of itself was not a firing offense.

Nowadays, there are new issues revolving around transgender-ism. The biggest question being: if a transgendered person wants to use the bathroom, where does he or she go? Target, and American chain of department stores similar to Walmart, declared that transgendered persons could use the bathroom of their choice. That led to a series of protests targeting the department chain who beg to differ on the issue.

If it were up to me, the ruling I would make would be to use the bathroom appropriate for whatever sex organs the individual had. But, that simplifies a very complicated issue. Last week, President Obama made a similar ruling to Target’s, and stated that transgendered persons could use the bathroom of their choice.

That complicates matters even further. Can kids fully grasp the various issues regarding the transgendered? Do they have the mental capacity to understand the issue fully, and do so without hazing or harassing, for example, a boy who wishes to use the girls room?

True, when we as individuals live at home, many of us have bathrooms that are used by both genders. But, when we go out, the bathrooms are broken down by gender so that strangers of opposite genders don’t get the perverted ideas that aren’t supposed to happen in a family setting. Forcing an inter-gender environment in schools? That’s something that could be abused if not closely watched.

There are no real ways to solve this problem neatly and cleanly. I just hope that while the issue is being further deliberated, arguments are allowed to proceed without things getting violent. No one should be harassed over the gender a person identifies with. It’s just, as Lady Gaga once said, the way they were born.

The Fight For $15


In the past year or so, McDonald’s employees have made their intentions known that they would like an hourly wage that’s livable. And so, they started a movement with the eventual goal of making a wage of $15 an hour.

McDonald’s responded in kind to this movement with the usual amount of tone deafness of companies that would accompany the hiring of skilled workers at low wages. They have, in various places here and there in the world, experimented with automated cashiers.

Automated cashiering is nothing new to me. In 1996, I could go to my nearest Taco Bell in Marietta, Georgia and press a touch screen to get my order. In 2000, I was living in Charlotte, North Carolina when Kroger’s brought out automated cashiers. You scan the items you want, and you can pay either by cash or credit card.

Just like Walmart, the CEO of McDonald’s just got a hefty raise to ignore the wishes of his employees to the tune of 368%. (He made $7.91 million in 2015, as opposed to $1.69 million in 2014.) Anyone wonder how he sleeps at night? I imagine he’s paid so well because his bosses don’t want him rocking the boat.

Greed is only good if you’re on the greedy end. Otherwise, it sucks.