It was obvious that we needed a new fish tank. After five years, our happy little ten gallon tank had become caked with algae, and my attempts at cleaning it had failed. The tank scraper was ineffective, and even when I emptied the tank and used an abrasive sponge, I was only able to minimally reduce the amount of algae on the glass.
Most pet stores carried new fish tanks, but they generally sold complete kits that included a hood, light, and filter. Our filter is still in good condition, and we had just purchased a new hood last year when the old one broke. It didn’t make sense to spend money on those components when all we needed was an empty tank.
We probably should have just splurged and bought an entire tank when the hood broke, but we were still anticipating our move at that point, and we were concerned with how well the tank would fare through the moving process. We were very reluctant to start buying new fragile pieces of furniture.
The tank did indeed survive (While we would have been okay if it didn’t, I’m sure the fish themselves were quite happy about this) and continued to sit in its algae encrusted glory in our living room. If we tried really hard, we were able to find some clear spots on the glass through which the fish could be observed.
Fortunately, we found a solution to our problem thanks to America’s favorite retail store: Walmart!
We recently discovered that we are in a 15 minute driving range of a Walmart. Despite such convenient proximity, we had managed to avoided it until last weekend. I was out running errands and had some time to kill so I decided to amuse myself by seeing if Walmart lived up to its reputation.
Everyone knows the stereotypes about Walmart: They’re dirty, and filled with fat, ugly, poor people. An entire website has been dedicated to these people.
My only prior experience with Walmart is going to one in Long Island on Christmas Eve, and that was disappointing. I always hope to find a bunch of imbeciles scrambling to find last-minute gifts. Instead, the store is usually mostly empty.
Did the local store prove to be any different? While I didn’t see any real “People of Walmart”, I can say that the stereotype definitely exists for a reason.
The parking lot was a mess of people fighting for spots, and there was a long line of cars idling by the entrance. Inside, the store was packed with people who weren’t exactly wearing their Sunday finest. Based on what I saw, it seems as if the jean shorts industry isn’t in danger of going out of business any time soon.
I don’t understand why Walmart seems to exist on a different plane of reality from the Target that is just across the parking lot. The average income of the customers seems to be about $10,000 higher in Target. Is Walmart THAT much cheaper? Or is the appeal of an in-store McDonalds just too much for lower-income families to pass up?
Walking through a store, some weird thoughts went through my mind: “Do they know that I’m not one of them? Are they angry that an outsider is in their midst?” And then, I looked down at my novelty T-shirt and camouflage shorts and had a scary thought: “Maybe I AM one of them!”
Those ponderings were interrupted when I happened to venture past the pet department (Side note #1: They sell fish at Walmart. I didn’t expect to see that.) and noticed they had empty fish tanks for sale! It was exactly what I needed and at $13 seemed to be reasonably priced.
So I did what anyone in my situation would do: I left the store to check if there was a better price online. (Side note #2: I’m not sure why these stores are complaining about “showrooming.”) (Side note #3: I could have just used the Amazon Price Checker app on my phone and saved myself a trip)
Amazingly, they didn’t seem to sell plain tanks on Amazon.com. All of the ten gallon tanks were the complete kits that run over $50. It seemed like the only place on the web where plain tanks could easily be purchased was….walmart.com.
Realizing that I wasn’t going to find a plain tank at a better price, (or maybe at all) the family headed back to the big W on Saturday. Once again, it was a crowded mess. We headed over to the pet department and picked up the last tank remaining on the shelf. (Phew!) The Cutlet got to pick out a new decoration for the tank, and to nobody’s surprise, she chose a pink castle. (“It’s Princess Aurora’s castle!”)
I was slightly worried about the checkout process. As I said, the store was crowded, and if my fellow shoppers were truly as unintelligent as their reputation, this could take a long time. For whatever reason, in general, the dumber the person, the longer their average checkout time is. I also had this horrible image of everyone in line paying by check.
Thankfully, the Express Lane actually lived up to its billing, and we were able to get through in just a couple of minutes.
The process of moving fish from one tank to another proved to be a bit complicated. I tried to preserve as much of the old water as possible, and some of the fish were apparently really attached to the old tank and didn’t want to leave.
Finally, I completed the transfer and the fish were happily (At least I assume they were happy) swimming in their new home. It felt kind of strange to actually be able to watch the fish this morning, instead of trying to get a glimpse through a thick layer of algae.
And to think, we owe it all to Walmart!