Saturday, August 7, 2010

Anger in the Hiper Paiz

The Walmart of El Salvador:
Different name, same company, same wonderful atmosphere

The Walmart in Buffalo is annoying.  It is always a complete zoo, swarming with angry, rude people.  You have to wonder if the people are angry and rude before they enter the store, or if the shopping experience itself transforms them into their worst selves. 

As it turns out, although it goes by a different name here, the atmosphere of Walmart in El Salvador is no different than it is in the States.  But there is one major distinction between American Walmarts and the Salvadoran Walmarts…we will get to that later.

Yesterday, I had to venture into said madhouse to get some supplies for the orphanage.  I paid a taxi to take me there and to wait for me as I shopped.  When I got to the check-out, all of the lines were ridiculously long, so I just chose one.  After about 15 minutes, it was finally my turn.  But a little grandma behind me asked to go ahead because she only had one item and was in a rush to get somewhere.  “No problemo,” I said (demonstrating my excellent Spanglish) and stepped back for her to go ahead of me.   

As Granny finished her transaction, I reached into my cart to start unloading—but was suddenly interrupted by a loud voice declaring, “Con permiso!”   A woman shoved past me and started unloading her cart. 

Shocked, I looked around for an explanation. 

The Line Cutter just smiled smugly and pointed above my head. 

I looked up, and there, next to the familiar blue and white handicapped sign, was a similar sign—but instead of the white outline of a figure in a wheelchair, on this sign, there was the outline of someone with a round belly.

At first I didn’t get it.  Then it dawned on me:  In this country, pregnant women are allowed to cut the line at Walmart!

Great.  Just another reason to be mad that I’m not pregnant.

And so I watched while Prego’s husband took over for her and unloaded their two carts of groceries.  And I watched as Prego conveniently disappeared as soon as she’d secured her husband’s spot at the front of the line and went to enjoy a cold beverage at one of the nearby shops.  Not kidding. 

It could’ve been the anger clouding my perception, but it seemed to me that this oh-so-pleasant couple had hundreds of items.  And to make matters even more annoying, some of their items were specialty meats that had to be weighed and individually priced.

Come on.  I had about ten items.  Pregnant or not pregnant, that is just rude.

After thirty minutes of waiting for them to finish their transaction (and remember, I was paying the taxi outside), I thought of two snide comments I could make to the line-cutting husband:

“You don’t look like a pregnant woman to me, Sir.”  (Ooooh, I totally should have said that.)


“Thanks a lot for making me wait; you know, I’m pregnant too.”  (Hey, I sorta am.  And he probably would’ve believed me, considering that two of the Hogar kids and two workers patted my belly and asked me if I am pregnant this week.  Awesome!)

But I held my tongue.  Mostly because I am a huge pansy.  But we’re going to pretend it is because I am an enlightened peacemaker. 

In the end, Walmart did not get the better of me: Angry, I was.  Rude, I was not.


  1. Are you kidding me?!?! That is RIDICULOUS! If you had just not let that little old lady cut in line . . . that's what you get for being nice.

    I ALWAYS choose Target over Walmart. I am so willing to pay a couple bucks more to not have to be in that horrible atmosphere. Ugh.

  2. I have always stuck by the theory that Walmart brings out the worst in people. I make it a point to spend as little time in there as possible.

  3. Well done, Rach. And, for what it's worth, I hope the hogar kids are right and you'll get back to the States to discover a bun in the oven.

    ALSO, my sister-in-law is a math teacher at a high school near Atlanta and they have three teenage kids. I called them up on Saturday to tell them about you guys and if they come across anyone who is looking to place a child to consider you. I hope something works out soon.

  4. Haha. What a jerk, seriously! Have you tried a Walmart in a posh neighborhood? Mostly deserted, better stocked, and a totally different experience!

  5. i would have TOTALLY said something!
    that kind of rude behavior makes me SOOOO angry!
    this is why we should all try to be more like Rachel! ;)

    (and p.s. . . . being pregnant CAN be uncomfortable. . . but NOT THAT uncomfortable! please! come on El Salvador woman! get some stamina. . . because guess what? your REALLY going to need it when said baby comes out! ha!)

  6. Oh my gosh Rach you are too funny! I can not believe your story! Next time I see you I will have to tell you my couple of similar stories that I did not act as the peacemaker!!! I loved seeing the murals you worked on while in El Sal.! What a amazing experience! You are an angel!


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