Sunday, October 5, 2008

Happy Face Stickers

We went to Wal-Mart today, and got some pretty terrible news. Earl (maybe I changed the name to protect the innocent) told us he won't be passing out anymore Happy Face stickers to the little ones who comes through the store. "News from the top is, they can't be buying anymore sticker rolls," he said. "I mean really, how much can they be? Pretty cheap, if you ask me."

I think they should ask you, Earl. Earl is at the front of the store, and I'll bet he sees thousands and thousands of customers walk by, and most of them are probably not the most pleasant, because, well, they've sunk low enough to put low prices ahead of their values, and I bet every so often a little kid comes by and says, "Mom, I was good! Can I have a sticker??" and mom is thinking about how she's going to turn 2 pounds of ground beef into two weeks of dinner, and how she hopes it's okay they didn't buy junior those shoes, because it's not like his toe is sticking all the way out of the sneaker yet, and does she have enough gas to get home, and YES, THANK YOU for not pitching a fit when we walked by the Pixar Cars display, you can absolutely have a sticker, and I'm just guessing that the highlight of Earl's day is giving those shoppers just a little bit of peace when they walk out of the store. Just a little smiley face sticker, to say, "Thanks for shopping here, instead of Target, or Fry's, or anywhere else much less depressing. I hope your day starts looking up, and I hope your kids keep finding joy in simpler things."

Those stickers are a gift to both the recipient and the giver. Earl gets to make kids smile. The kids are excited to see him. They wave good-bye and say thank you. They give mom a chance to see her kids through Earl's eyes, and appreciate their cuteness and how well-behaved they've been. Kids get to stick them on the car window and get everything all sticky. Those smiley face stickers keep the lines of communication open between the faceless store that takes the money and the consumer who had to make the choice to go there. Earl and his stickers ease the blow. It doesn't make it "okay" but it makes my kid smile, and sometimes, on a day that requires a trip to Wal-Mart, that's better than nothing.

Wal-Mart, i know you paid someone to crunch the numbers and find out that the stickers are costing your billion dollar company hundreds of thousands of dollars. I know that the sticker cut means your suits get an extra grand per year. I know those stickers aren't making dollars, so they don't make sense.

But you really pissed me off today, Wal-Mart. My kid got her last smiley face sticker. Earl is pretty sure he got his last smile from my kid (which isn't true, Earl. I'll make sure we smile at you, no matter what). You're making everyone think harder about what you're really offering, and what you're not offering, and I'll tell you what Wally. No one is smiling.

9 comments:

Becca said...

Bummer! My kids always look forward to the stickers. At least there's still the free cookies in the bakery.....(I hope)

Jillsywillsy said...

Your post just made me cry. Damn you Wal-mart executives!!!

Keiko & Jeff said...

That's horrible. I know that someone is going to say something about how Wal-Mart is a bad place to shop anyway and that's what you get, but desperate times call for desperate measures. We're a heartbeat away from not even being able to afford Wal-Mart. The economy is so sick and twisted right now and to quote a great piece of literature (because that's what I do best), it "seems that only children weep." A bit dramatic, but you get my drift.

Renee said...

As long as you're quoting my favorite book, you can be as dramatic as you want. This was one of those situations where I should have asked WWAD? (The A being Atticus)

Free cookies better not die.

eric said...

Free cookies! How did we never know that?!

diane said...

I guess we shouldn't be surprised that Walmart is just showing us the character of the company that we always knew - they are greedy bastards. My boys will be sad.
On the plus side, at least Earl still has a job. Don't tell him that Walmart doesn't REALLY need greeters. I'm sure they'll automate his job and roll his butt out to the street soon.

mrsmouthy said...

You could always ask him to do what Costco does and draw a smiley face on your receipt...

I know what you mean though. There's a local grocery store that hides a stuffed frog and if a kid spots it he/she gets a treat. We spent an extra half hour looking for that frog last trip until someone finally told us he "went on vacation." I had to BUY a treat with my OWN MONEY. And now my son is terrified of taking vacations.

mrsmouthy said...

Hey, where's the rest of my F-ING COMMENT? It was long, witty, thought-provoking, and world-changing. Forget it, World Wide Web. You don't deserve me.

Renee said...

I thought the stuffed frog was incredibly thought provoking.