Getting “Yes Ma’amed” at Walmart

September 16, 2019

I grew up in a small town in Mississippi. I have been fortunate in my career to have worked with people from all over the world, and like many of you, I have learned at lot from those I’ve met on life’s path. Although I enjoy my life here in the city of Atlanta, I find there are times that I need to re-center my compass and return to my motherland. One of these recent migrations home has filled me with optimism for our future, and I am here to share the wonders with all of you!

As you may be aware, the most popular vehicle in the US is the pickup truck. As a kid I remember being bounced around on dirt roads in the bed of my grandfather’s 1948 Ford F1 truck with my cousins and various dogs. Country trucks have changed a bit from those days. They now all pull trailers that haul off-road vehicles carrying names like Polaris and Gator that can cost up to $30,000.  Today’s modern-day Granddaddy likely has a $600 Yeti Cooler in the back and the grand-kids all safely buckled, riding in the front. How did we ever survive?

If you want to get your “commerce experience” in during your re-connection with your roots, I recommend a trip to small town America’s main street shopping district – the local Walmart. Walmart is America: a reflection of the local multicultural diversity of a place. The massive Walmart workforce of 2.3 million associates deals with an estimated 260 million consumers every WEEK. If you want to know the pulse of the American consumer, visit a Walmart. This is where pollsters should be spending time and money!

Next, any successful homecoming must include social interaction with the local community. In the South this means eating. In the Deep South it means eating country food with strangers. It can be a buffet line, or revolving tables covered in casseroles, or platters of fried everything. This visit, my mother informed us that the restaurant recently added a major capital investment to the dessert line – a soft serve ice cream machine! Based on observed usage, it was capital well spent. No one does it quite like the folks in the South on a Sunday after church! With lines clearly out into the parking lot, surely the local preachers wonder if it’s their messages or the food that have the bigger following!

Finally, no country story is complete without mention of the unspoken rules of politeness, and particularly of being yes and no sirred. Perhaps it is a sign of my ever-advancing maturity, but I’ve found I quite enjoy this respectful treatment by those who are younger. My wife on the other hand seemed to have a problem when a forty something year old woman at Walmart yes ma’amed her. I guess we need a more clearly defined rule for women on the use of ma’am.

Overall, the good news from home is that money is being spent and the economy appears strong. And, as an added surprise, we have the first ever weekly about Walmart, trucks, southern eating, and getting ma’amed. It’s almost the makings of a hit country song!

Carl Gambrell