Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Rhymes with Wal-Mart

Everybody; So it’s a done deal and unless the giant “Wal-Mart” corporate power structure steps in and hides all the really cool details you shall all be reading about it in the your local paper some day soon. But just in case, here are the true facts about how the whole situation went down (keeping in mind at all times that the store in question is not in fact Wal-Mart®, but is a store which has a name that rhymes with Wal-Mart. Just so we’re clear on that).

As everyone will remember, recently I accidentally came across a copy of the “Wal-Mart” New Employee Security Code Handbook, which is just chock full of all the “Wal-Mart” security codes and required responses. Tons of fun for your average anarchist or anti-globalization maniac, and who am I to resist temptation? However, a careful perusal of the handbook showed that a minimum of two people would have to be involved on the anarchist side to make this operation work. Naturally I had to consider this carefully. I understand that there are many folks who have no interest in bowing down to those “in charge”, corporate drones or otherwise, but this operation would call for that certain special something that separates one from normal maniac-hood to those who are predisposed to ultra-extreme maniac-hood. Obviously genetics would play a role.

Well my nephew, C****, popped to mind instantly (he has requested that for the purposes of this report I refer to him only as Professor Chaos). Not only is he a fellow listener to DOA, Hard Core Logo, and Metallica, but he is also an avid air-guitarist. Most importantly, from an early age Professor Chaos has had a healthy skepticism (one might almost call it cynicism, if one were a complete loon) that I feel is important to a true adults development. Of course when I asked him if he wanted to be involved he tossed his copy of Harry Potter and Leopard-Walk-Up-to-Dragon onto the coffee-table and asked, “What are we going to do?”

I laid out a rough plan of attack whereby we would infiltrate and, by use of the top secret “Wal-Mart” security codes, disrupt the normal flow of operations of the store. Good clean fun and all in a worthy cause too! Well, not a real worthy cause. I just wanted to see what would happen. We’ll just call it my ‘art’ for now.

“What if they catch us?” Professor Chaos asked.

I told him that if we were caught I would probably get beaten like a gong by corporate drones, then I would be worked over by a group of sharks disguised as corporate lawyers. And then, as a final indignity, I would probably be renditioned off to Syria for a quick round of rubber hose beatings and thumbtacks through the eyelids (as a general rule the corporate power structure does not handle disrespect very well). I also told him that as a young offender the cops would probably just take him down to the station and phone his mom to come get him. Then while he waited for her to show up they would probably ply him with pop and ice-cream and let him wear a police hat. “Sounds good to me,” he said. “Let’s go!” Good man.

I grabbed a set of 2-way radios off the counter and we headed on out. I backed out onto the road and with some very stylish slippage in the fresh snow we were off fishtailing down the road (I’m pretty sure the neighbors were about to get new garbage cans anyway). As we traveled I filled Professor Chaos in on the general plan of action. I also gave him the security handbook to look through. At this point my concerns were few. Getting in wouldn’t be a problem at all and neither would getting into position be. The general ‘shake the ant-farm’ part should be just a hoot and vacating the store post shake-up would probably not be a problem either. At first I had been surprised that none of the security scenarios called for a store-wide lockdown, but after considering for a moment it did sort of make sense. If you lockdown the store then customers can’t get in and spend money. Actually as you will see this worked in as part of the overall plan.

We pulled into the sparsely filled “Wal-Mart” parking lot and quickly jogged to the store entrance. I stopped at the payphone by the doors and dialed a number I had discovered on my second favorite anarchy website, 1-202-456-1414 ext: 001 can be dialed from anywhere North America and will instantly disable the security video systems of all “Wal-Marts” in a thirty mile radius from wherever the call originates (I believe this was an easter egg [an electronic backdoor] planted in the “Wal-Mart” security system by a disgruntled former employee). After a few minutes we infiltrated the store itself and Operation Poop-Rake began.

We split up and Professor Chaos scuttled off towards the toy section and pet supplies while I nonchalantly made my way to the children’s clothes area at the opposite corner of the store. At the prearranged time (well, roughly prearranged time as I don’t wear a watch and Professor Chaos had lost his) I stopped a “Wal-Mart” associate and said, “Associate Bill told me to tell you to prepare for a code 86! This is not a drill, I repeat, this is not a drill!”

The girl looked at me suspiciously. “Why are you wearing sunglasses in the store?” she asked.

“Why indeed,” I answered. “Remember, code 86. Eight sixer!” I gave her a stern look, then I ran off to hide in the men’s washroom to wait for the next stage of the plan to unfold.

It was at this point that Professor Chaos should have stopped an associate over by the pet food and, acting like an innocent twelve year old, said that he had heard a group of big boys walking down towards the automotive department and they were talking swears like bad kids. When the associate hurried off Professor Chaos was supposed to weave his way through the paint and hardware sections to the books and magazines. Once there he was to wave a photocopy of a bar-code (which I had found in the security handbook) under the automatic price checker station in that area, thus activating a store-wide class-three security alert. He was then to move to the crafts section, discard the photocopy, and then inform me of mission accomplished with a double click on our 2-way radios.

I had only been in the washroom for a couple of minutes when I heard Professor Chaos’s double click. I left the washroom and walked up to the store’s rear service counter. I rapped on the counter with my knuckles, but before the young cutie behind the counter could say anything, I snapped out, “This is a double alpha red situation. A double alpha red situation! Do I have to repeat myself?”

“I think you already did,” she said.

“This is no time to be coy,” I hissed. “Double alpha red! You know your duty.” I turned and hustled off to join Professor Chaos in the crafts section. Everything appeared to be going smoothly so far. Our first feints at provoking a security response seemed to be bearing fruit. We had taken a quick moment to touch base and then we wove our way through the sewing & notions department, into the shoe department where we paused, pretending to be merely a dad and his boy out for a bit of shoe shopping. I glanced at the shoe department salesgirl who appeared to be prowling her department with a little more vigor than usual and a tense expectant look in her eye. Perfect. As I had hoped the store security awareness levels had been jacked up a couple of notches due to all the security calls we had initiated, and if all the store associates were as wired as this girl was it was time to administer the final gentle push that would cause the entire cesspool of corporate big-storedness to flutter to the ground like a house made of damp cards in a stiff Arctic wind (yo! Dig that imagery!)

As you have noticed, so far we had only been toying with lower echelon “Wal-Mart” associates and that really isn’t fair at all. Even yanking the chain of the local “Wal-Mart” manager wouldn’t be any fun because he is probably just some local corporate droneling-wannabe, working a hundred hours plus a week and trying to grab the first rung of a corporate ladder that is actually completely out of his reach. Nope, we wanted to slam-dunk the ‘Monitors’.

Until I read the security handbook I had never even heard of the Monitors. It turns out that every “Wal-Mart” in North America has a cadre of Head Office trained Monitors prowling it’s aisles. These people are trained in one of three top secret locations and are all expert at various extreme security measures up to and including near lethal take-down and restraint. Obviously these talents are not required daily in every store so on a day to day basis these people are to keep the troops (the associates) in line, and these were the people that Professor Chaos and I had been working up. The Monitors had to have noticed that something was going on.

For those don’t believe there are Monitors in the “Wal-Mart” stores. just listen to the overhead announcements that play all during the working-day in every “Wal-Mart”. “Will all “Wal-Mart” associates make sure their areas are clean for inspection,” is one. Another is, “Would all “Wal-Mart” associates please do a security check of their areas.” Those are the Monitors in action, and those announcements have always sort of bugged me (for all the time I actually spend in “Wal-Mart”). Every time I hear one, in my mind’s eye I could see this giant faceless corporate Big Brother type thing yanking around under-paid and under-houred “Wal-Mart” employees like monkeys on a chain and that kind of high-handed behaviour has always given me the full on hates (yeah, I know that’s a run on sentence, but sometimes life is very much like that). And then, to find out that the truth is much more insidious. The Monitors made me think of those commissars from the Soviet army during World War II who followed the frontline troops into battle, shooting deserters and cowards, the deserters and cowards being those guys who were tired of being sent into battle without weapons so the Germans would waste bullets shooting them. Oh yeah, the Monitors were the targets of our little foray into anarchy here. Let’s go.

Professor Chaos and I moved to the aisle and when nobody was looking we tuck and rolled into the ladies unmentionables section. We burrowed into the over-sized bra display and huddled down for a moment. “You ready?” I asked. “Let’s rock,” Professor Chaos answered as he patted the pouch of his kangaroo sweat-shirt. He pulled on a pair of mirrored aviator shades and yanked his hood over his head. We dug our way to the aisle across from the Audio Visual department, and Professor Chaos left cover to innocently amble in to look at the DVDs and video games. He disappeared for a second then reappeared and gave me a thumbs up. Party time.

I popped up out of the ladies dainties display, startling the heck out of the department salesgirl. “You!” I said, “Associate! We have ourselves a Triple Zee Alpha Plus situation in the A/V department. My authorization is Nasty Frog Goober (this is the highest “Wal-Mart” security code. Thanks again You know your duty, associate!” I dug my way back into the girlie gonch and made my way to where Professor Chaos was waiting by the watch display. We scored some gum and batteries from the impulse buy stand and paid cash for them, then went and stood by the main doors where we could see down the central aisle of the store to the entrance of the A/V department. It looked like a bunch of ants as every Monitor in the store scrambled to get into the department, responding to the Triple Zee Alpha Plus call. Eventually they were all in there and there were two standing at the department entrance making sure that no regular associates or civilians got in.

Things were calm for a minute or two and then a high pitched Ki-yi-yi-yi call echoed throughout the store when one of the Monitors found the note that Professor Chaos had taped to a post by the DVD display in the A/V department. The note said, “I have placed an ‘on sale’ sticker on an item in this department. Quick, look out behind you!” As we all know “Wal-Mart” does not have sales as they already have the lowest prices (well, not really) and the insinuation that there was an ‘on sale’ sticker hidden in the department sent the Monitors into a frenzy. Even the two that had been guarding the department entrance turned and rushed in, and we could soon hear the sounds of displays being torn apart and merchandise being tossed around. It sounded like an ugly scene, or music to my ears.

I went up to the store greeter and said, “Man, that sounds like a riot or something! You should call the cops!”

The greeter, who had to have recognized some of the Monitors as they piled into the A/V department, smiled and said, “You know what? I think I will.” He was moving to the phone as Professor Chaos and I left the store, dropping the security handbook on a table on the way out.

As we got into the Jeep Professor Chaos asked if we were going to wait for the police to show up. “Nope,” I answered. “The point of creationist art such as this is to give it life and then to allow it to evolve as it will. Staying to watch would only ruin the moment.”

“It sure would be cool though,” he pointed out.

“I’ve spent my life avoiding being cool,” I said, “and I’m not stopping now.” And so we left.

So should we have done it? I don’t know if it was right or wrong, in the Biblical sense, but it felt right and that’s worth something. Besides, as Gibby Hayes of the Butt-hole Surfers once said, “I’d rather regret something I did, rather than something I didn’t do.”

By the way, if the riot and the police response don’t make it into the international media in the next week or so then we’ll know the “Wal-Mart” corporate power structure is alive and well, and completely in charge.

Anyway… Humouroceros


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