At risk of sounding elitist, I’m going to say that this is typical Wal-Mart shopper behavior. Namely, to not have a clue. In this case, not having a clue that getting a good deal on that 52″ TV is not worth risking, let alone taking, a life. Episodes like this make me wonder just how little it takes to reduce a mass of humanity to a tooth-and-nail materialistic frenzy.
I shop at Wal-Mart occasionally (most recently, I purchased 9″x12″ envelopes to send out job apps), but I am not a “Wal-Mart shopper.” Wal-Mart shoppers, properly speaking, are oblivious to everything but their basest urges and have no concept of the proper ordering of desires and goods. They can’t even tell that other people exist—a prerequisite to recognizing that they are impeding the progress of those other people by parking their cart diagonally in the middle of an aisle. And when you tempt 2,000 of them to fight each other for the same low prices, on luxury goods like 52″ TVs, guess what? They are going to fight each other, to the death.
I, on the other hand, am aware of such things, and know how to rightly order (most of) my desires. I never stop stupidly in the aisle to gape at nothing at all. I do not trample temporary workers to save a few dollars. Wal-Mart should know better than to court disaster like this. But what can a normal person do? On days like today, I just stay away till all the morons are done killing each other, the victors revelling in their own filth before their new TV. And on normal days, I have learned to treat those sharing the store space with me as idiot children. You just can’t get mad at them, as it would do no good.
Somehow the TV is an apt symbol for the whole situation.
But they do have a 500GB drive for $69, so I’m heading down there—calmly, and with the common good as my number one priority—to see if there are any left. [Update: scratch that—I don’t really need it, and if I wait till I do need it, I’ll get a better deal. Whether my not buying it tonight helps or hurts the common good, I leave to the economists and philosophers.]