(Edited to add: I have written a public apology for the post below.)
I exited the 4/5/6 today. The usual groups of people were standing outside Grand Central handing out menus, free rags, and the latest giveaways, whatever they cold pile on a passerby. They’re like attack fish, these people. I usually ignore them.
Today, however, one person, and more specifically a word he used, caught my attention. He was young, I would guess around 25. He looked clean cut, kind of frat boyish. He was a cross between the young Republican kid from next door and the really drunk guy at the local TGIF. The words “Wal-Mart.” spilled from his lips.
And so I took the freebee. At first glance, it looked pro-Wal-Mart. Usually, with any anti-Wal-Mart piece of paraphernalia the message is made very clear immediately. Their message is usually: “Wal-Mart Sucks and Here’s Why”, but this one was different. It looked different.
I walked further down the street and ran into another guy handing them out. I passed him by. The third guy is where this story becomes a little more interesting.
“KEEP WAL-MART OUT OF NEW YORK CITY! KEEP WAL-MART AWAY FROM NEW YORK!”
Oh! I thought to myself. These men handing out poorly designed flyers featuring a union bug ARE anti-Wal-Mart. So I stopped to chat.
“Where are they said to be looking?” I asked the guy holding the stack of papers, the same one who had just screamed “KEEP WAL-MART OUT OF NEW YORK CITY!”
“They are talking about coming to Queens. But they have promised to not stop there. Once they are in Queens, they hope to come to Manhattan and then maybe Brooklyn.”
“I see. That sucks. Thanks for the flyer. I got one from your friend down the block.”
I continued on my way.
After I got a closer look at what they had been handing out, I realized that they weren’t, in fact, protesting Wal-Mart at all. The flyers they were handing out were, in fact, Pro-Wal-Mart. Sure, they reeled some people in by yelling out anti-Wal-Mart sentiments but they’re designed and printed by
the Wal-Mart Corporation Wal-Mart Watch.
I’m not sure if I should be annoyed by this venture, or totally impressed by the last guys ability to reel in an otherwise deaf audience. (For the record, I would have taken the piece from someone who outwardly spewed pro-sentiments. I originally thought I had. It’s best to know what your enemies are up to. heh)
(The below blurbs are lifted word-for-word from the flyer I received.)
“Ensure Quality and Affordable Health Care Coverage You can’t create a team spirit when the situation is so one-sided when management gets so much and the workers get so little of the pie.“
“Our Nation’s Largest Employer and most financially successful company. Wal-Mart is a singular American institution. It occupies a unique position in our world by virtue of its size, read and responsibility for the livelihoods of millions of workers and the needs of billions of consumers. And with such overwhelming influence comes certain moral responsibilities. It is the acceptance or rejection of those responsibilities that determines greatness.”
“By paying a family-sustaining wage, Wal-Mart will ensure that federal, state, and local taxpayers are not forced to spend billions of dollars on public assistance for Wal-Mart employees. Wal-Mart itself will not seek taxpayer-funded subsidies that locally-owned businesses do not receive. And Wal-Mart will not pit local communities against each other when selecting sites for Wal-Mart stores or other facilities.”
Not too much about keeping Wal-Mart out of New York City after all, eh?