The Midnight Economy Of Doom

Watching Wal-Mart at Midnight

Quoting Bill Simon, CEO of Wal-Mart’s U.S. business:

And you need not go further than one of our stores on midnight at the end of the month. And it’s real interesting to watch, about 11 p.m., customers start to come in and shop, fill their grocery basket with basic items, baby formula, milk, bread, eggs,and continue to shop and mill about the store until midnight, when electronic — government electronic benefits cards get activated and then the checkout starts and occurs.

From the novel, Since The Layoffs by Iain Levison:

“There’s a switch, an EFS switch,” she says, getting impatient, or annoyed at being treated like a charity case. Then I see a tiny switch at the bottom of the credit card machine marked “EFS.” I click the switch, and I’m amazed when a receipt prints up. She signs a copy and walks off, limping under the weight of three gallons of milk which she appears to be carrying home through the cold. It must be for a family’s breakfast. I look at the receipt, and it says, “Electronic Food Stamps, Inc.”

Electronic Food Stamps, Incorporated. Not Electronic Food Stamps, but Electronic Food Stamps, Incorporated. This is a business. Somebody’s making money designing ways to get government aid to people who have been tossed aside. Some money grubbing software designer has a government contract because we all lost our jobs.

That’s the biggest insult of all, that we are being fed off. The destruction of my life, my town, represents a business opportunity to someone else. Nine months ago, this woman walking through the cold was probably a factory employee, or perhaps the wife of one, and her children had health insurance and she had a car and she bought milk in the daytime, with money. I am suddenly filled with the urge to find the fucker who owns this EFS company and shoot him right in the fucking face. I feel that someone owes me an explanation, not a corporate public relations-type explanation, but a down-on-your-knees-begging-for-your-life explanation, which is the only kind worth listening to.

But he’s not the only one. From now on, I have to make a list of people who need to be shot in the face. There needs to be a real bloodbath, to equal the financial and emotional one which has just been drawn for all of us.

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