Recently, a friend of mine and I drove to Washington, Ga.  While wandering around the town square, I was enticed into a beauty supply store (“Young’s”) by an attractive wig in the window. The store looked as though it was going through reconstruction, but I got the impression it always looked that way. It was essentially one big room with random counters and random boxes scattered around. I casually browsed around the store, looking at the assortment of relatively cheap wigs, when I spotted about 40 of them lining the back wall and headed towards them. A saleswoman stopped me and told me I couldn’t go to that side of the store. This is the conversation that followed:

You can’t go over there.

Why not?

You just can’t.

I just want to look at the wigs over there.

It’s against my policy.

What if you go over there with me?

Tell me which one you want to see and I’ll bring it over to you.

There are a lot of wigs over there. [Pause] Well, never mind.

At this point I walk away and, shortly thereafter, leave the store.

The undercurrent of the conversation was, ‘If I let you go that far away from the front desk, you will steal something.’ I’m not sure if there are nice ways to imply that one of your customers is a thief, but suffice to say the lady was very rude to me throughout this conversation.

While I would never be involved in such a conversation at Walmart (as an organization, it is far too professional) I do feel the overall dilemma is similar. The pull of Young’s was the cheap product. I didn’t buy anything, but I did think long and hard before leaving and have actually considered going back.

So, an upfront insult to my face is too high a price to pay for cheap products, however the affronts to my moral belief system that Walmart dishes out (a giant monopoly that undercuts prices of their suppliers and treats their employees terribly) are fine as long as I can successfully ignore them while shopping. It’s very American of me, or maybe it’s just a human trait.

We naturally react to the things directly in front of us.

I’m not telling you to not shop at Walmart. I don’t care what you do. I think, however, as evolving beings we need to look behind our choices to try and see what’s not directly in front of us. Does our morality hold firm in all the ways it should? Are we really the people we perceive ourselves to be?