by María L. Trigos-Gilbert

After so MANY nasty e-mails and almost life threats, FINALLY I have decided to write a second article about Wal-Mart, but this time is to congratulate Wal-Mart rather than diminishing this chain of stores. Please, take note that I’m writing this article because I have considered this time to be appropriate. So this article isn’t an apology to Wal-Mart, and this isn’t an apologetic thought to the Wal-Mart’s employees.

On the contrary, I do believe that we have FREEDOM OF SPEECH. Of course, even freedom of speech has its consequences, and that’s right in a democratic system. In the end, the USA’s primary and strong beliefs has been its independence, the Emancipation Proclamation, and the 1st Amendment of the USA’s Constitution.

Looking Out for the Best Not the Beast
I would love to believe that my first article about Wal-Mart has made a huge impact in how things are handled at Wal-Mart — from its employees and ultimately from its own customers. When one writes an article full of criticism, the idea behind is some sort of IMPROVEMENT. It’s like when parents tell their sons and daughters about some of their children’s wrong doings.

Parents aren’t trying to put their sons and daughters down for the mere heck. They expect some kind of positive change. If that happens, parents feel as if they have gained a battle, though it may not be the end of rearing up their children. A won battle isn’t one’s full victory; it’s a victory among the many given battles in different times and circumstances.

When I wrote my first Wal-Mart article, I didn’t imagine of the much feedback that I would obtain. The first electronic responses were okay; then they started to get messy from the senders’ part. I have always, somehow, kept the needed calm to handle these situations with much tact and much honesty, giving all the respect that those electronic senders have deserved. Though I must confess, it’s as tricky as a two-way street. One must watch one’s driving as much as the other recipients’ driving for everyone’s sake. In the end I, the writer, want to do what duty calls. Even more I must say DUTY CALLS, AND IT CALLS LOUDLY. It’s like when a person feels the call for a certain work in life’s field.

How would anyone hide from this type of call when it doesn’t depart until it, in one way or another, gets done? That’s a hard call. We start ordering and numbering our checks and balances what we call the con and the pro. It’s as my boss told her son, “Son, life is rough. Then you die.” This couldn’t be more simple, yet it doesn’t alleviate the pain of hearing and living those words.

When I wrote my first article about Wal-Mart, I felt and thought thoroughly that I had had to answer my call. Take note, my call. It doesn’t imply that it was or has been your call, or anyone’s personal call. Once again, this is a writer’s task. One must write what’s in mind, think about it thoroughly until it makes good sense. Nevertheless, what makes good sense to me, isn’t necessarily what makes good sense to you. That’s the reality of living. We have different tastes and different needs. Thanks to God!

The world would be mighty boring if we all were too alike, to the point that we could almost read each other’s mind at all times. Even more this would bring a giant problem between love and hatred. Scary, isn’t it? Yes, it’s super scary because we couldn’t hide those feeling that we feel toward those who are meaningful in our life, specially when they do something wrong, or something that doesn’t tickle us as we would like or wish.

Wal-Mart’s Other Side
I can’t help but to notice the giant improvements that Wal-Mart has made recently. They are in the process of positive and reasonable changes. This reminds me one of Simón Bolivar’s thoughts, “If my death contributes to the cessation of political parties and the Union’s consolidation, then I’ll go down to my sepulcher with much tranquility.”

Isn’t that an amazing thought? Do you observe how unselfish Simón Bolivar’s thought is? This makes me think that if my first article about Wal-Mart has meant it leed to Wal-Mart’s self-examination about its policies and business strategies, then I may not go as far as to say that I’ll go down to my sepulcher with much tranquility, though I would say I have done my part as one of Wal-Mart’s customer in this part of the USA.

My part has been to say what has been wrong with Wal-Mart and what has been right. Of course, this article’s theme embraces Wal-Mart’s new developments. Since Wal-Mart seems to be improving, this is the moment to write about this chain of stores’ goodness during this first part of this new millennium.

Wal-Mart’s Customers & Employees
When everything and everybody works toward great production and treatment no matter what, customers and employees build a better kind of interaction which, in the end, should be the ideal situation. I usually don’t go to Wal-Mart unless I need a reasonable amount of things because Wal-Mart’s stores are quite big. That’s absolutely great; it gives variety. I’m the kind of individual who loves diversity. The opposite tends to be boring, at least for me. Wal-Mart has shown lately to be more stable as if it has encountered its symmetry and clarity.

A salesperson’s golden rule is to know the product and the public. Wal-Mart meets this criteria, product and public. I’m a firm believer that life is a matter of trial and error. Trials mean mistakes, but nobody should be hanged for trying! Wal-Mart is trying to give a better service. Customers treatment toward Wal-Mart’s employees depends solely in the goodwill that these two teams build in this exchange, bills for products. Patience is hard to develop, but as my parents say, “Patience is hope’s result.” The less patience that one has, the less chances for having a good time, or at least a better time.

What I Have Found Lately
During these past months, I have met terrific employees of Wal-Mart. Certainly these encounters have made me think and reexamine my position toward Wal-Mart. This has been my second call about Wal-Mart, but this time is to write something nice and encouraging. It’s true that there are many chain of stores out there that do not meet the criteria about service and product. I must confess that it’s very easy to target Wal-Mart because of its size and because of the much greatness expectancy which we hold about Wal-Mart. What about this saying? “To be ignored is worst than to be yelled.” Nobody likes to be ignored. So, even when a writer comes up with some kind of criticism, it’s better than been ignored, almost neglected as if we don’t count. Wal-Mart counts.

Otherwise, I wouldn’t give it a thought or a chance. Even actors and actresses prefer some exposure, whether negative or positive, because it tells them that they are still important, at least to a certain extend. Of course, if it’s a wonderful article about their performances, it gratifies their ego. The other side indicates their lack of improvement or preparation.

Pressure Helps
Most of us need some kind of pressure in order to get things done, whether at work or at home. That’s fine as long as we can handle it. I remember a cartoon that said, “Hey, aren’t you going to get that done?” The very young boy answered, “Well, I work better under pressure. So I’ll wait until the last minute to come up with a better answer.” Some people work that way. Some other people are the worriers type; they must get it done ASAP.

I’m the kind of person that I don’t mind when it gets done as long as it gets done, period. Of course, for health reasons the sooner the better. Let us say that Wal-Mart is getting its business done. As this other saying goes, “Never too late while ALIVE.” For instance, what should we say? Is one’s dream born first or one’s hope? Doesn’t it remind you the dilemma about the egg and the chicken? I do believe that hope is born first. Who wants to have a dream without hope?

Wishing the Best for Wal-Mart and Its Employees
In my first Wal-Mart article, I stated that some of the employees weren’t as qualified as they should be. I do believe that it’s true. On the other hand, everybody deserves an opportunity! Of course, there are some people who don’t appreciate any kind of opportunities because they simply don’t get the point. Certainly there are some Wal-Mart workers who are extremely prepared and educated to do their work tasks! At times a good education doesn’t mean a thing if it isn’t matched with some human tact.

One thing I have learned in this process: There are some good people working and some bad people. From the business point of view, location is important, then the product. With a good location and a good product, we need good employees. It doesn’t matter the type of religion, the skin color, or any other kind of trait as long as the good business keeps functioning. For some people this is common sense, for some other people this simple theory must be learned. Once again, it doesn’t matter where the good human sense comes from as long as it comes… whether from books or from life’s experiences.

The Truth Doesn’t Hurt As Much As It Itches
Whenever I got a nasty e-mail, I tried pretty much to stay calm because in the end the truth doesn’t hurt as much as it itches. I won’t defend anyone or anything unless I believe it to be an honest and just cause. Otherwise, I won’t write or talk about it because I can’t compromise my position. So, when I write this second article about Wal-Mart, it’s just like going to the doctor and looking for a second opinion before a final judgment.

If I believe that everybody and everything deserves a chance, a try, I must give example. That’s why Wal-Mart’s recent testimony has touched my writer’s side. It isn’t about what I like or dislike, though my experiences may influence the case. If I say the contrary in this matter, I would become like a senseless politician. All of us hate or dislike quite a lot senseless and soundless politicians. Nevertheless, whenever I write something that affects the public directly, I then write for and with the public.

At Times a Sounding Criticism Helps
Most things could work a lot better if we the users and receivers ask for better products and services. In the end, some sounding criticism can’t do anything else, but help more than a lot. So let’s say that some Wal-Mart representatives read my article. What could have happened? One they must gotten irritated like some Wal-Mart employees did. Yet some other people took and have taken it seriously enough to perhaps make some considerable changes. Therefore, we must praise when we must. We must point out what seems wrong, but always hoping for improvements. That Wal-Mart has made.

I can testify about it because I have observed great changes. Of course, it wasn’t like everything was going wrong, and suddenly wonderful changes came up. Everything wasn’t bad, and everything isn’t so wonderful. That’s business’ tricks. I remember from a wonderful movie “The Insider,” which I watched in a Continental airplane when coming back to the USA in my recent trip to Venezuela, when a reporter said, “Fame lasts 15 minutes, but misfortune last a little longer.” Isn’t this so well said? I think so, though it hurts. Another important thought from that movie is the following, “Ordinary people under extraordinary pressure.”

This is my conclusion, though not my in my own words. My previous article about Wal-Mart wasn’t its 15 minutes fame, and the truth is that all of us seem to be ordinary people under extraordinary pressure. Of course, some people tend to handle pressure better than others do. Yet, the deal is to give things and people a fair try and a genuine chance. If we must live everyday as if it’s one’s last day, then I could die in peace because I have said what I had in mind. At times I have been praised, and some other times practically disgraced. That’s fine as long as it doesn’t kill me for once and for all.

Wal-Mart, I do really wish you the best. I do not ask forgiveness for my first article because from then and now I must say what I see. So it doesn’t mean that this might be last article about you guys. On the contrary, this is just another chapter among the possible many. Believe me when I say that I’m on the people’s side, though I do believe that you do so as well as we all do. Once again, I do wish you the best, and I do mean it!