I made a trip to town by myself today. A rare event and a bit nerve racking as the first 9 miles were ice covered roads. Once I reached clear pavement I pulled over to check out the strange noise coming from the back of our Crown Vic. Chunks of ice and slush were solidly packed and one part had partially dislodged itself causing a "clunk, clunk" sound. A little work with the shovel and the scraper handle and the mess was removed.
Eleven miles later I arrived at Walmart's nearly empty parking lot at 9 a.m. I'd expected lots of shoppers the weekend before Christmas but this was not the case. In fact, I was the only car on the road for the first nine miles and afterward met only four others until I reached the Portage Lake Lift Bridge.
Inside Walmart four checkout people waited for customers and 2-3 had someone in line. I asked one of the checkout people "What gives?". She claimed "the rush had slowed."
I leisurely covered nearly every aisle in this rare opportunity to wander and peruse products. In the grocery section there were a few notices of products no longer available due to shortages, pumpkin among them. I noticed low inventory of other products, one being the shelf stable milk. A stocker told me they have been carrying less of it due to low sales. They had also eliminated one brand. This irked me. I buy 12-18 boxes every month and others buy multiple boxes per visit but apparently this doesn't translate to strong sales. I read somewhere that Walmart was eliminating products and trying to appeal to customers with more disposable income but I think they'll lose customers in a lot of communities.
Two local grocery stores seem to follow the opposite logic: stock variety but small amounts of each. So, if I'm looking for variety I know where to turn. If I'm stocking with price in mind I go to Walmart. Wish it weren't so but I do. I really, really miss Save-a-Lot! The closest one to us is Sault Ste Marie.
More obvious is the sagging support for local charities. Many are behind in their fundraising goals; some fear being unable to distribute Christmas baskets and gifts. An additional picture of the falling economy is the empty seats at usually busy restaurants, the low census at local motels and empty seats at local watering holes. Tourism related businesses are praying for additional snowfall which usually translates into additional business but it's anyone's guess whether either will materialize.
And then I read about the growing threat of food shortages; the continuing mess in the mortgage/banking/commercial markets; and the insanity of the "Health Care" legislation - one among a never ending list of government poppycock.
As this course continues what new excuses and linguistic gymnastics will officials resort to in hopes of portraying their latest hologram as reality?
Personally, I think having little everyday contact with the daily trough of images, innuendo, indoctrination and insanity gives me a clearer picture of where we really are. It's not pretty folks; not pretty at all.