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Life Arts    H4'ed 8/19/12

Sam Walton's Nightmare. Billion Dollar Loss over Lemon.

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My One-Man-Revolution, a simple act that anybody can do, got Sam's attention. It did not hurt when I read Wall Street's report that Walmart's stock fell twenty cents per share the next day, either. I am not saying the simple repositioning of one lemon in the Pullman, WA, store, a gesture known as shop-shifting, caused Walmart to lose 679 million dollars, over half a billion. But who knows?
It sounds crazy until you understand the Walmart brand.  Placing a lemon in a bin of green limes was a visual signal, a break in Sam's order, and gesture of defiance that he could not ignore, anymore than a bull could a red cape. 
I was a merchant matador, and had placed my first lance. Sam had bullied his way into too many towns, and gored countless communities.
Obviously, my previous discovery of Sam Walton's corpse in the ice cream section Walmart Revolution was a defining moment. My only regret is that I allowed him to escape and keep his dream that technology advances enough to bring his cryogenic carcass back to life, to squeeze the last dollar out of American workers, as well as send all remaining jobs to China, including ice cream manufacturing.
I continued my Walmart journey south, and arrived in Kennewick, Eastern WA.  I did spot a lemon in a pair of shorts, an image of shop-shifting solidarity, and tangible proof of growing consumer defiance. But no Sam.
Lemon in Shorts
Lemon in Shorts
(Image by Unknown Owner)
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I had a hunch Sam would go south, deeper into lemon country. I drove three hours to Portland, Oregon, and hunted in the store for lemons, but could find none. How is it possible that Walmart has no lemons? Obviously, Sam was one step ahead of me. The following video documents the ordeal.
The good woman is obviously trying to throw me off. But I would not fall for her ruse. I would return to Walmart's mindless maze, and den of darkness, next to the ice cream section, to delve deeper into the shelves where the stock people live.
Walmart did not have a plastic juice-filled lemon? Is that possible? The Stock Woman almost had me convinced. Then I heard something that sent a shiver down my spine. The ice cream door was ajar. A small cube, like a frozen fur-ball, tinkled out.
I tried to close the door. Another ice cube fell; then another. There seemed to be a machine behind the Eskimo Pies. I peered in, and could see a passage. I hoisted myself up. Between bins of Bountiful Butternut and Dubious Doughboy, there was a corridor, and trail of ice cubes. Behind me, I felt the door click. I could hear someone huffing and wheezing ahead, a hunched figure wriggling in the frozen shadows. I followed and entered a darkened and caverous room. There, I gazed at the cryogenically-cadaverous, and frostbitten-blued face of Sam Walton.
"Why!"--my breath fogged--"It's true!" 
"That's right!" Sam's lips curled like frozen slugs. "My heart is so cold I sh*t ice cubes!" 
"I thought the trail was cold," I said. "But I didn't expect this!"
"It will get worse!" Sam wheezed as more cubes dropped. "The door behind you is locked."
"Why ice cubes?"
"Little boxes." Sam's mouth formed a square, and he spit a cube. "Like the big box."
"You spit them, too!" I saw something moving on the ceiling. "You're a fiend!" 
"Welcome to my world!" He sprayed a can of WD-40 solvent in his mouth. "Someday, I will prove the world is square. They will call it Wally World!"
"You're crazy!" I said. My eyes began to glaze. I could see people upside down, walking on the ceiling, defying gravity, and passing packages. With a sigh of pleasure, Sam settled onto his pile of ice. Then I began to understand. Everything Walmart does turns the American dream upside down. Everything Walmart sells comes from China, where geograpically speaking, everybody works upside down. So it was only a matter of time, before Sam imported Chinese workers, to work like flies on the ceiling.
"Double the space!" Sam laughed. "Once you bust the floor unions!" 
Excited, he tried to cross his legs, but his pants were frozen like a pup tent. The cubes kept coming. 
"You're a devil!" My teeth began to chatter. "With a blue butt on!" 
"You actually thought you could win?" Sam's right eye froze shut. "That you had civil rights? Why, that's un-Chinese!"
"It felt good," I said. "To be able to do something. Anything!" 
"A lemon?" He sniggered.
"Lemon, lime, banana." I was shivering heavily. "It's like moving a prayer bead, for the sin of shopping here. Every time a lemon is moved, every cent that Walmart loses, an angel gets its wings."
"Absolution?" Frown lines fractured his forehead."Good thing I stopped you." One cat's eye turned. "Would you like one last wish?"--he sniggered--"An Eskimo Pie, perhaps?"
"No," I said, trying to think fast. "An Occupy."
"What?" Sam turned a ghastly gaze. A bin of Blue Bunny stuck to his cheek. He pulled the lid away with a piece of his face. However, two bunny ears remained stuck to his jaw. He looked like a bunny pharoah.
"Occupy," I repeated.
A dozen cubes clattered. They were up to his knees.
"Pie equals two-are-cube-square!" he blurted. "What are you talking about!"
I felt a ray of hope. His senile brain was freezing. He was mangling a circumference formula, which does not even exist in cubes. His shirt pooched with ice, like a bloated ice bag.
"We have a plan!" I bluffed. "Fifty Occupy Protesters will gather in every Walmart!"
"So what?" said Sam. "They can't come in without a permit!"
"They can if they shop," I said.
"China will gladly take their money." Sam waved at the ceiling. Chinese tent flags fluttered down.
"Every store"--I explained--"Fifty carts lined up--Filled with clothes. TV's. Sirloin steaks!"
"Ching-a-ling!" said Sam. "Ring it up!"
"Then..." I said..."inexplicably...unpredictably...almost impossibly..."
"Not the Walmart way," Sam grimaced.
"Every one of the shoppers forget's his money!"
"But...Fifty carts! Just sitting there!" Sam ripped a bunny ear from his chin. "My employees would have to put everything back! It would cost millions, billions! That could shut me down!"
"And the next day. And the next," I said. "No law against forgetting."
"Unacceptable!" Ice rose to his chin. "I'll let you go!" he said. "Just stop it!"
"Word," I said. "I'll let the boys know."
Sam pushed a button. "Why would you pick on an old man!" 
"Do you remember twenty-five years ago when you strip-mined Newport, my small town, buried a wetland, put up an oceanfront Walmart, in the woods where my son played, and the mayor made a joke of it?"
"I do that all the time!" Sam spit a last cube. "It's the Chinese way!'
Ice covered his eyes. I heard a latch open, and half-slid down the cascading cube-way, and out the door. I lurched past cashiers. Could see light. My eyes were thawing, I was looking through ice...I was out the door.
Starting the car, I knew I would be back. Sam could run, he could freeze, but he could not hide. I would find Sam if I had to comb the cubic corners of the earth. 
Meanwhile, I will post photos on the--Lemon on Lime--Facebook page to show the Movement is here to stay. I doubt if anybody will ever venture into a Walmart again without seeing a rebellious lemon. Maybe others will post photos. Maybe Sam will be a regular troll. Maybe Walmart will change.
The next day, I saw Walmart lost another 16 cents per share. or $543 million.
I headed to Newport on the Oregon coast. I had a hunch.
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Conceived on west coast, born on east coast, returned to northwest spawning grounds. Never far from water.

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