Walmart Woes

How can even the most mundane purchase feel like it has become a decision of style – economics – priority?

One of today’s shopping tasks: buy a waste basket for the bathroom. Seems simple enough. After a few days with just a plastic sack in the corner of the room, I made a plan for an upgrade.

It’s been a while since I bought a wastebasket for a bathroom. And the last time I did, it was likely from one of the housewares vendors found in nearly every outdoor market in China. These stalls are marked by a stack of plastic basins out front – from large and sturdy and red, down to smaller pastel types, marked with a cartoon character in the center. Brooms, mops, and waste baskets are also sold here, along with a myriad of other daily use items. The waste baskets came in just one or two sizes, and a handful of colors – light green, light blue, maybe pink. None particularly distinctive in style, but definitely functional. And once our basket was lined with one of our leftover red plastic bags from a trip to a veggie or fruit vendor, it was all we ever needed.

But we live in America now. And with no outdoor market around the corner, I went to the place that felt most logical to look for such things.

Armed with a list on my phone which read – ‘wastebaskets’ – along with countless other uninspiring items (broom, ice cube trays, socks), I took my first solo shopping trip since arriving in Evansville. Mark stayed home to mow the lawn, and the kids played the Wii. (I’m not even making this up. Do we sound acclimated to life in the US or what?)

I drove the new-to-us mini van to the nearby store, all the while trying to shake the feeling that I’ve been plopped down right in the middle of someone else’s life, not my own. I’m used to navigating the city on bike or bus to run such errands, or maybe taking an Uber or a taxi. It wasn’t easier, really – far from it. But after 19 years it felt comfortable. And I felt competent.

I don’t know what I thought it would be like to buy a wastebasket in America, but I certainly wasn’t prepared for the style choices before me. This was Walmart, not Target, for heaven’s sake.

Chevron print or the one with bronze embossed leaves near the top edge? The one that reminds me of a flower pot? An elegant, modern look, or a more country feel? Sleek and classic, or whimsical and cute?  Should the trash can match the soap dish and toothbrush holder? Oh, right. Maybe I also need to buy a soap dish and toothbrush holder.

How much money is reasonable to spend on such a purchase? It IS just a container for our trash, after all.

I round the corner and realize that there is actually an entirely separate section of what also seems to be small sized wastebaskets. Oh no – are these for the bathroom too? Or are these bedroom wastebaskets? Is there a difference?

I have plenty of time to make the decision, sans kids, in this not-at-all crowded, climate controlled store, which truly contains every convenience I could possibly imagine. Why does the large selection irritate me so? What on earth is wrong with me?

Like it or not, the selection is there, and a choice must be made. And so I deliberate. I try to envision the color of the tile in our bathroom. I try to remember – are the baseboards white or cream? What will go with the towels we were given? And then – grrr! What am I doing? How much time have I wasted standing here thinking about a trash can?!

Though it was tempting to just stick with our plastic bag in the corner, I finally chose a more respectable bathroom waste basket. (White and plastic and round, for those who are wondering.)

On to the brooms.




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