I've noticed a peculiar thing happening to my psyche. Whenever I hear the words "intersectionality" "privilege" or "coal miner" I find myself losing all sympathy and empathy. My hackles are raised, my interest in debate plummets and I go full "plague on both your houses" mode.
I have a couple friends in West Virginia and I don't give a fuck about West Virginia. As a country, we were talking about doomed fucking coal jobs in the '80s. And when your two choices of employment are the Walmart and the prison, your local economy is end stage already.
And can we level for a minute? Those of us who grew up in the Mountain West were surrounded by ghost towns left skeletonized by an end of mining, agriculture, ranching, you fucking name it. Everybody moved the fuck on. And while I appreciate that the mortgage is an excellent instrument for trapping workers in place for better predation by corporations, fuckin' take the hit and leave.
I spent a lot of time driving through rural Arizona back in the late '90s. I spent a little time driving through rural Arizona in 2010. Know what I saw? New ghost towns. Places where it made sense to live when Clinton was president but totally didn't when Obama was. Empty houses, empty stores. Fuckin' sunrise, sunset. Know what we call the people who left squalor and risked everything to find new opportunity? YOUR ANCESTORS. Know what we call the people who stayed? We don't. They've been forgotten by time.
Given her mother’s health issues, Nicole Banks tries to compensate for Walmart’s departure by seeking out fresh fruit and vegetables in the surrounding area. But it’s not easy. The nearest replacement store, Goodsons, is too expensive, she says, and other Walmarts are an hour’s drive away along Appalachian roads that are as tightly coiled as the copperhead snakes that live in the local forest.
I mean, eat a dick. I grew up an hour from a fucking Taco Bell. Walmart? The first Walmart I ever saw was a two and a half hour drive away and even at the tender age of 11 I could tell it was a blight upon the community.
It was into this stunning setting that Walmart descended in 2005 on the site of an old Kmart, like the spacecraft of alien botanists that lands in the forest at the start of the movie ET. And there it sat: a massive gash of concrete encircled by nature’s abundance.
Talk about burying the lede. So a store with higher profit margins crashed, so Walmart came in with lower profit margins, until even they were just losing money. But somehow this is about Walmart leaving rather than fuckin' McDowell County returning to the primordial "largest mixed mesophyte forest in the world" as is good and just and righteous and proper. Know how many people live on South Georgia Island? Two. Know how many lived there when whale hunting was legal? Hundreds.
Wanda Church has been unemployed since that day when she cried as Walmart’s doors were closed for the last time; the company offered her a night shift at the next store along, but she couldn’t stomach the hour’s drive either way and wasn’t prepared to leave her home.
That howling sound you hear is every urban commuter reading this article and screaming at the top of their lungs that their commute is over an hour and that's just the way it is princess.
The company had worked with all the employees who had lost their jobs to find them suitable transfers or give them severance pay. “We look forward to continuing to serve our Kimball area customers when they visit our stores in Bluefield, Princeton and MacArthur,” she said, (without referencing the hour’s drive.)
There are THREE fucking Walmarts within an hour. Workers at any supermarket chain you care to mention are quite used to suddenly having a shift an hour away. This happens in major metropolises and yes, I can say with authority that Walmart does it, too.
This is literally liberal disaster porn talking about those poor fuckers in coal mining country who no longer have a Walmart across the street but can drive 40 minutes to get to one. They're fuckin' 40 minutes from the goddamn interstate; time was going to forget them sooner or later and sincerely - from those of us "scots irish" who grew up in the goddamn desert, welcome to thunderdome, bitch.
Articles like this? They make me want the opioid crisis to accelerate, Obamacare to crash and global warming to destroy the economy of appalachia even faster. If the only thing that kept you hanging on was the talons of Bentonville Fucking Arkansas, you were ready to shuffle off the coil a long fucking time ago.
Get busy livin' or get busy dyin' and either way, know that I'm all the fuck out of sympathy.
Being a schoolteacher, Phillips has a theory for what happened when the store closed. “Socialization. We lost our socialization factor. Now it’s hard to keep track of people, there’s no other place like it where you can stand and chat.”
There was something else Phillips lost with Walmart’s departure. To illustrate the point, he reaches into his red pick-up truck and pulls out a loaded Para Ordnance Warthog .45 handgun and waves it at us, telling us not to freak as the safety is on.
“Bought this in the Walmart parking lot,” he says. “Guy sees me reading a gun magazine and asks me was I carrying. He offered to sell me the Para warthog and I got it for $775.” Phillips took his new possession home and added to his collection of 140 firearms.