When is a Piggyback a Good Thing?

Isn’t it funny how the winds of fate can change things in an instant? I sat down at my PC (strangely earlier than normal) to write a post about a completely different subject, and just before I came to the site I passed by a new ad featuring Wal-Mart’s new DVD rental-via-mail program. Netflix, one of my favorite and most customer-focused companies around, is being seriously threatened by a department store with a trillion dollars in assets. This, my friends, has changed things.

If you’ve been reading the first several posts I’ve made to this site, you’ll know that I use this site for a little bit of everything. Humor first and foremost, quickly followed by life updates, and lastly an occasional touch of spirited opinion. This time, let’s bring on Category Three. :)

So I’ve thought and thought about this, I’ve brainstormed until my slightly larger-size ears nearly burned off, and I’ve come to one certain conclusion: Wal-Mart, for all of the smiley faces and gainful employment of low-wage-earning women, is evil. For you Austin Powers fans, let’s just say you can bet serious money that it has a funny smirk and another corporation exactly one-eighth its size lurking nearby. So for those of you that haven’t seen it yet, it’s time for me to get on my hand-crafted, candy-red soap box and tell you all about it. Yee-haw!

If you would, think back to grade school for a second: do you remember that obnoxiously dumb kid who was bigger and meaner than all of the others? No, not him…the other one. Yeah, that guy. This kid wouldn’t be great at test taking, so he’d just find the nearest geek, shove him against the wall, and take his homework. Instant B+. He had a surprisingly high number of friends because even though no one really liked him, you just couldn’t deny the value of having such raw power in your corner. But worst of all, this guy would lurk around listening for good ideas from the quieter kids, then take them for his own. Remember the first kid who thought of collecting Garbage Pail Kids? That was him. And what about the guy who invented the Slip ‘n Slide? You got it. No one ever challenged him on these for obvious reasons. Well, ladies and gentlemen, you may not remember this kid’s name, but I do: his name was Wally World.

Wally wears a big blue hat and looks a little strange…his face is a perfect sunshine yellow. Some have called him “The Slasher” because he was once on a commercial, hacking white signs with prices on them. But for all his charming looks, Wally can really hit you where it hurts. If you live in New York City, you’ll probably live a full life never having heard of him, but if you’re out in the middle of rural Kansas (as if some part of Kansas isn’t rural), Wally will become your life. He’ll be the only guy you ever give more money to than your wife. He’ll take your job and send you home to spend more time with the same wife…who then has every opportunity to demand she be told exactly why you’re giving more money to someone else. It can get ugly in a hurry.

So, of course, I’m being a bit facetious, but have you seen the home page of WalMart.com lately? The only things they don’t sell on there are iMacs and indentured slaves (and I hear the latter is coming in 2007, after some essential ship restoration work is completed). So why does this even matter? Because this country was built on the American Dream, and it’s hard not to believe that Wal-Mart is crushing that dream for a large amount of people. Want to run your own store in Nebraska? Don’t think so. Did you make the mistake of putting up an automotive store next to the largest vacant lot in town? Uh-oh. But do you look sexy in a blue vest and enjoy making $8.00 an hour? Well, then, congratulations…life will be good for the foreseeable future.

I’m not sure why those movies set in the future never have enormous Wal-Mart superstores in them, but sooner or later someone’s going to pick up on it. After all, in the never-ending survival of the fittest, there ain’t nobody poised to take on Wally.

So, for Netflix and all the other true pioneering companies of the world, this answers the question posed by the subject of this post: When is a piggyback a good thing?

The answer: Only when the person hopping on is a lot smaller than you are.

Okay, I’m done now. Join me next week for “Bilbo Baggins: Friendly Hobbit or Ambitious Dark Lord of the Underworld?”

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