A Public Service Announcement from Christine Stoddard


The shelves and shelves of cheaper than cheap bags of candy in
radioactive colors. The inevitable fluorescent lights drawing
attention to garishly cut clothes in giant discount piles. The nearly
free toilet paper stacked next to bargain books and oversized reading
glasses, as if the three things were inseparable soul mates. And worst
of all, the insane asylum white walls. In fact, they might as well
truck you over to an insane asylum now because if you stay here an
hour longer, you'll go crazy.

But where are you? What place could be so shamelessly ridden with
tacky Taiwanese merchandise and the eerie charm of hospital decor?

Only a Wal-mart Supercenter---and, if you don't leave now, you'll
catch Supercenter Syndrome, the fastest growing epidemic in the
country that is also the most incurable. Once victimized by
Supercenter Syndrome, a person can never recover.

One of the reasons why Supercenter Syndrome is so incurable is because
it is so new and so rampant. Doctors didn't begin diagnosing this
disease until Wal-marts started springing up in every town in America
about ten years ago. What started as a quaint five-and-dime store in
Arkansas during the 1970's has quickly become a haunting beacon of
capitalism, plaguing everyone from bored housewives to Congressmen.
Lured in by the great deals and consistent jaw-dropping prices, even
the scientists researching cures for Supercenter Syndrome often caught
the illness themselves. This happened so frequently that funding for
research died years ago.

Even if the cure remains unknown, however, this is clear: the symptoms
of Supercenter Syndrome are easily detectable. Here are the gruesome
signs you should watch out for in your friends and loved ones:

*Unusually dilated pupils, probably from exposure to all the bright lights
*Painfully wide grins, most likely attributed to the ultra-low prices
on everything from dog socks to chainsaws
*Owning a wardrobe full of hideously unflattering clothes that could
have only been bought at Wal-mart, including, but not limited to, huge
stripes, bad tailoring, ugly colors, frumpy fabrics, etc.
*Heavy bags under the eyes due to a lack of sleep from all the time
spent shopping at Wal-mart
*Greasy hair as a result prioritizing trips to Wal-mart over taking showers
*Fanned-out ears adapted to hearing Wal-mart intercom announcements of
sales and clearance items
*Flat feet due to constant walking up and down Wal-mart aisles

As more and more Wal-mart Supercenters sprout up, fewer and fewer
Americans are safe from the deadly disease that hits loyal shoppers.
But just because a Supercenter has popped up in your town doesn't mean
you have to be a helpless victim. There ARE other stores you and your
family can visit. Of course, don't assume that because Wal-mart hasn't
invaded your town yet that you're completely immune to the disease,
either. Like any successful parasite, Wal-mart has a way of creeping
up on the most unsuspecting of customers.

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