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The Wal-Mart Games
February 23, 2005 9:47 AM   Subscribe

Introducing The Wal-Mart Games. Bored college kids have a new pasttime: playing football, relay races, and scavenger hunts in the aisles of Wal-Mart late at night! Oh well. At least they're off the streets.
posted by braun_richard (47 comments total)

 
Ah, good times at 24/7 Wal-Mart. Another fun game to play is to see how many employees you can get involved in your games (or piss off- take your pick). There's nothing like a pick-up game of customers vs. employees.
Also reminds me of our fascination with racing the bikes through the isles during our 2am trips (in case anyone was wondering, they really really really hate it when you do that).
posted by jmd82 at 10:00 AM on February 23, 2005


If I worked at a Wal-Mart where this was going on, I would lose my mind. I worked retail- having to clean up after people being stupid sucks.
Meanwhile, my mom went to Taylor U, and encouraged me to apply. The thought of having to do stuff like this to fight the boredom is the reason why I said no right away.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 10:06 AM on February 23, 2005 [1 favorite]


wow, kinda makes me wish I grew up in a small hick town too, instead of a vibrant, culturally rich, city with a myriad of entertainment options. not.
posted by dawdle at 10:07 AM on February 23, 2005


I used to love doing this at our local Wal-Mart when I was in high school. The night those Razor scooters came out was a great night, indeed. It ended with us riding them to the pool supplies aisle, where we inflated about 50 rafts with bike pumps and rode the scooters full-speed into the big bouncy pile.

We also once set up a campsite, complete with a tent, chairs, ponchos, and various flora we had secured from the garden department.

Then, I turned 18 and Wal-Mart hired late-night security guards.

Still, I'll always have my memories.
posted by saladin at 10:08 AM on February 23, 2005


Its not just WalMart, we used to do something like this at the SafeWay near school. And it was a great place to pick up girls too.

dawdle, uh, Flagstaff, Arizona's not really a small hick town. Its near a pretty amazingly diverse and culturally rich area called Sedona and there's also Prescott as well.

This is just kids finding another way to have fun. Who hasn't ridden bikes around Toys R' Us to get the staff to chase you? Who hasn't played catch across aisles of food at 3 in the morning? If you haven't then perhaps you should give it a try, its fun.
posted by fenriq at 10:11 AM on February 23, 2005


Remember kids, abstaining from drugs, sex and booze will lead to you finding yourself trying to shelve obscure Wal-Mart products on a Friday night. For free.
posted by theinsectsarewaiting at 10:15 AM on February 23, 2005


If I worked at a Wal-Mart where this was going on, I would lose my mind. I worked retail- having to clean up after people being stupid sucks.

Seconded. People are trying to work. Looking after a bunch of nitwit kids is making some poor $7/hr saps life more difficult, which I don't find cool or amusing.
posted by jonmc at 10:18 AM on February 23, 2005


wow, kinda makes me wish I grew up in a small hick town too, instead of a vibrant, culturally rich, city with a myriad of entertainment options. not.

I grew up in a big city and we still did this. Quit being a snob.
posted by Cyrano at 10:36 AM on February 23, 2005


People are trying to work. Looking after a bunch of nitwit kids is making some poor $7/hr saps life more difficult, which I don't find cool or amusing.

Agreed, but many people don't exactly have a fully formed sense of social justice in college, either. I know I didn't.
posted by Cyrano at 10:42 AM on February 23, 2005


New corporate policy/response memos are (no doubt) going out as we speak.
posted by spock at 10:43 AM on February 23, 2005


I grew up in a small town, going to get donuts at Wal-Mart at 3 in the morning was way too much fun back then. I never felt the need to make some poor employee's job miserable though.
posted by Arch Stanton at 10:46 AM on February 23, 2005


Cyrano, nope, me either. I was about having fun and getting laid, not worrying about someone's crappy job at a crappy company.

Favorite game at late night supermarkets? Bowling with cans. Alot harder than you might think.
posted by fenriq at 10:49 AM on February 23, 2005


That's OK, cyrano. You won my heart with your previous comment. And to certain extent, we didn't mind a little tomfoolery from customers when I was in retail, but people who make it their night's entertainment we found annoying. Like the couple who used to come into the bookstore where I worked, find a couch and make out for 2 hrs. Or the guy who used to park himself at a computer in the computer store I worked at, and spend a couple hours constructing his GeoCities page. Those people were annoying enough, but these dopes think that they're being cute and funny on top of it.

It's not even social justice, just courtesy.

Cyrano, nope, me either. I was about having fun and getting laid, not worrying about someone's crappy job at a crappy company.

Didn't you guys have these kind of crappy jobs when you were in high school and college?
posted by jonmc at 10:52 AM on February 23, 2005


I've been on both sides of the fence on this one, both the youth playing games and the $7 an hour worker. If you can play your games without disrupting other shoppers, damaging products or leaving ANYTHING for me to clean up, have fun.

On Preview:

but many people don't exactly have a fully formed sense of social justice in college, either.

Agreed. But that still doesn't justifiy these actions, or give kids the right to trample through the store.
posted by boymilo at 10:56 AM on February 23, 2005


If you grew up in the South, this would have been a past time for most of your teenage years. College kids, always behind the curve.
posted by Captaintripps at 10:56 AM on February 23, 2005


jonmc, I understand your perspective and, to some extent, agree with it. But this is fairly harmless fun for the most part.

It'd be better and smarter if the college towns recognized this need to vent extra energy and made facilities available to them. We used to go and play pickup indoor soccer some nights at school and we'd get a good group of people playing.

If they don't have an appropriate steam release mechanism then they will find an inappropriate mechanism to blow off steam.
posted by fenriq at 11:06 AM on February 23, 2005


jomnc, sure I've had crappy jobs. And I was a resident assistent in college. Trust me, lots of guys made that job more difficult for me than it had to be. And I know I made the jobs of a number of cops more difficult than was in any way justifiable during my high school years.

I think most of these kids will grow out of it, though. Part of growing up is realizing what a prick you used to be.
posted by Cyrano at 11:06 AM on February 23, 2005


It'd be better and smarter if the college towns recognized this need to vent extra energy and made facilities available to them. We used to go and play pickup indoor soccer some nights at school and we'd get a good group of people playing.

I imagine that even the smallest town would have a park or playground where someone could go play a game of football or basketball or something. No need to go bother the poor slob working at the Wal-Mart.

Although, I could get behind what boymilo said, don't bother the other shoppers, don't leave a mess for the staff to clean up and you can have your fun, even though it's really kind of silly when you think about it.
posted by jonmc at 11:10 AM on February 23, 2005


This sounds suspiciously like one of those things that someone did once or twice, and pretends that it's a hobby and a trend.
When I was 16 we walked around the Lower East Side kicking dents into cars and stealing antennas (we were charming kids), and to this day one of my friends is always saying "remember when we used to go car-denting all the time?"
Us vibrant city dwellers only engage in culturally significant constructive entertainment.
On Preview:
I think most of these kids will grow out of it, though. Part of growing up is realizing what a prick you used to be.
Hoo boy! Do I ever agree with that one.
posted by Edible Energy at 11:13 AM on February 23, 2005


When I was in college, one of our favorite activities was shopping at Wal-Mart (and the 24-hour Kroger) at 2am. Donuts, mostly. Or junk food. We never messed with the employees, though I can guess we might've been louder than your average late-night shopper. What made it interesting were the shoppers that were there in earnest, doing their serious shopping in the dead of night. As far as games go, I remember a couple of nights playing football in the massive and empty Wal-Mart parking lot.
posted by grabbingsand at 11:13 AM on February 23, 2005


My social circle's favorite late-night retail pastime in college was always to go, completely sober, to the 24-hour grocery store, whereupon we would fill our cart with, and purchase, the most ludicrous assortment of merchandise we could accumulate. Neon-colored candy, aluminum foil, what-have-you. The goal was, through nothing but our purchases, to make the cashier think we were stoned.
posted by Faint of Butt at 11:16 AM on February 23, 2005


By ANN ZIMMERMAN and LAURA STEVENS
Staff Reporters of THE WALL STREET JOURNAL


***

That night, she and her pal Amy Zimmerman, a college junior, decided the group would play "10 in 10."

I'm sure that's just a coincidence.
posted by pardonyou? at 11:16 AM on February 23, 2005


The 10 and 10 game seems particularly appropriate, really, since one of the goals of the game is to ensure that everything gets put back in its place.
posted by jacquilynne at 11:17 AM on February 23, 2005


Oooo, nice attention to detail, pardonyou?. Mom and Dad must be soooo proud to see both of their girls in the paper!!
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 11:20 AM on February 23, 2005 [1 favorite]


jonmc... Parks are no longer available to kids. Where I live, the parks close at 10 p.m. and any kids who try to hang out there have the cops drive by and kick them out. Being a kid in America today sucks. There's nothing for them to do anymore in most towns but go to stores like Walmart or to the mall and hang out. Perfect example of just one place kids used to be able to go is arcades... but now as everyone has a PS2 or XBOX, arcades have died.
posted by banished at 11:37 AM on February 23, 2005


what banished said. its illegal to be in parks after dark in almost every place i've ever lived for as long as i can remember.
posted by nequalsone at 11:47 AM on February 23, 2005


its illegal to be in parks after dark in almost every place i've ever lived for as long as i can remember.

Um, not to get all back-in-my-day, but back in my day, that was part of the fun of being in the park.
posted by COBRA! at 11:51 AM on February 23, 2005


I remember parks as being somewhat harder to use than stores as well (though we never played football in shops or anything else that would be a PITA for the staff). Parks are fine during the day, but being in a park at night means a 50/50 chance of being hassled by cops for nothing, whereas a store at night means a 0% chance of being hassled by cops for nothing.
posted by Bugbread at 11:52 AM on February 23, 2005


NTM, if these are kids living on a college campus, I figure there's gotta be a common or a clearing somewhere on the grounds.

Sounds, more like they think they're being cute and quirky. I hate cute and quirky. Now get off my lawn, put your hat on straight and pull up your pants.
posted by jonmc at 11:53 AM on February 23, 2005


Sure, there's probably a common or clearing somewhere, but think back to your high school or college days: how much did you enjoy playing in the exact same place, day after day?
posted by Bugbread at 11:59 AM on February 23, 2005


If they don't have an appropriate steam release mechanism then they will find an inappropriate mechanism to blow off steam.

Where I live, the parks close at 10 p.m. and any kids who try to hang out there have the cops drive by and kick them out...There's nothing for them to do anymore in most towns but go to stores like Walmart or to the mall and hang out.

Sorry - false dichotomies. There are always positive alternatives to bad behavior.
posted by klarck at 12:02 PM on February 23, 2005


Sure, there's probably a common or clearing somewhere, but think back to your high school or college days: how much did you enjoy playing in the exact same place, day after day?

I liked it just fine. People like having a regular hangout, inmy experience. Even post high school, me and my freinds would go hang out in the high school parking lot/playground and play kickball (this was mainly a cover for us to drink beer and smoke pot, I'll admit). The cops would come occasionally, we'd leave, then we'd come back. Dragging some poor schmuck working a lousy job into it is what I'm objecting to.
posted by jonmc at 12:05 PM on February 23, 2005


Having a regular hangout is cool when self-selected, but having a regular hangout sucks when it's the only available place. In high school, we liked having a regular hangout, but we also liked a change of scenery from time to time, resulting in many trips to Toys 'R' Us, empty lots, parking lots, grocery stores, and the like.

I'm certainly not saying that playing football in a grocery store is a good thing. I was just pointing out that parks aren't very available at night unless you like getting hassled by cops, and that saying "Well, there's got to be a common or a clearing" isn't a sufficient replacement for having multiple places to play.

I suppose the optimal thing would be: do your minimally physically / largely vocal or cerebral play at the store, and do your football in the clearing, not vice versa.
posted by Bugbread at 12:15 PM on February 23, 2005


In high school, friends and I donned costumes and capes and fought vast heroic battles at the local Taco Bell. It was a dark day when I, in my guise as The Neferious Doctor Squid, complete with my suit of homemade cardboard armor (including spork claws) was defeated by the hero RetroBoy and his Guac Gun of Justice.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 12:16 PM on February 23, 2005


Wow! Back in '93 I had never even been to a Walmart, (This amused my new southern friends a great deal), but by '95 I was playing hide-n-seek and various packaged meat sports (pot roast football was a favorite) in the aisles of Walmart at 3am like I'd grown up there. I have vivid memories of a friend writhing in laughter within a large refrigerated bin surrounded by various meats. Those were the days...
posted by shoepal at 12:37 PM on February 23, 2005


Anyone who's ever gone to the University of Michigan or lived in any college town in the Mid West probably remembers doing this at Meijer's back before time began. Big woop.
posted by spicynuts at 1:19 PM on February 23, 2005


In my youth, we played roof tag at the local elementary school. If you got off or fell off the roof (mostly into the bushes), you were IT.
posted by Danf at 1:34 PM on February 23, 2005


NTM, if these are kids living on a college campus, I figure there's gotta be a common or a clearing somewhere on the grounds.

Not in the middle of the night, especially not if you're being loud. Anywhere outside is not a good option after a certain hour, usually 10 or 11, campus security/police will shoo groups off to their "proper" places. There's also the matter of weather. I wouldn't want to be out trying to have fun at with a 14 degree wind chill.

All night gyms (actual gyms with space for basketball, volleyball, general running around) or social areas that are inside (thereby insulating neighbors from noise) would be great. Small colleges in small towns are the least likely to have such beasts though, and that's where 3 a.m. Wal-Mart rampages come in.
posted by Dreama at 2:33 PM on February 23, 2005


I grew up in Hawaii, and everything closed early when I was in high school. The only place open late that didn't cost (much) money and had minimal security was the airport (pre-9/11 obviously), where my friends and I spent many late nights racing wheelchairs and exploring the dark corners of unused gates. I have many fond memories of having deep talks with my friends in some abandoned wing of the airport while watching the last flights of the evening take off.
posted by rooftop secrets at 2:42 PM on February 23, 2005


I recall such things as burning tires in the middle of the highway, lighting huge bags of fireworks on someone's front lawn, spreading trash out in "designs" on the lawn, putting glue in car door keyholes, trying to hit parked cars with rocks shot from a slingshot while driving down the road, etc. This always came not out of a desire to cause trouble but out of sheer bordom and teenage stupidity. We liked the night and there was nothing to do. Tried playing sports first, if we played basketball we kept people awake. If we went to the local sports complex to play, we were chased off by cops almost immediately.

Until we were 18 we avoided Wal-Mart since curfew in the city was 10:30 or something like that, and was pretty strictly enforced around here, at least at that time. So we mostly stayed outside of city limits when we had nothing else to do and that meant pulling pranks on roads with virtually no traffic or the really stupid shit like following a car with our headlights off, using only the other car's taillights to stay on the road.

I did not go to high school with my friends so on the few times that they wanted to do something that I did not want to do, I still did it anyway since I was bored out of my mind all of the time and certainly didn't want to go back to sit on my ass at home. A good portion of the time my bordom made me come up with some of the stupidest shit that we did anyway.
posted by weretable and the undead chairs at 5:32 PM on February 23, 2005


If I worked at a Wal-Mart period, I would lose my mind. This would just give that insanity a nice Alice-in-Wonderland quality.
posted by mek at 6:05 PM on February 23, 2005


the Wal-Mart Flickr Group
posted by thisisdrew at 8:02 PM on February 23, 2005


Ohhh man spicynuts Meijer's was THE best place to hang out at 2:00am in Flint. Good times, those.
posted by yodelingisfun at 9:40 PM on February 23, 2005


Who hasn't ridden bikes around Toys R' Us to get the staff to chase you? Who hasn't played catch across aisles of food at 3 in the morning? If you haven't then perhaps you should give it a try, its fun.

Retail employees, that's who. If you clean up after yourself, don't annoy me, and don't annoy the other customers I don't care. If you do, I will pray for swift justice.
posted by drezdn at 9:50 PM on February 23, 2005


Nighttime is not the best time for this, as it's when the stockers are working putting stuff on shelves and there are boxes and pallets all over the place, down every aisle.
posted by First Post at 1:14 AM on February 24, 2005


The youth group I used to attend has been using Wal-Mart as a platform for its activities for years. One task on a video scavenger hunt last year was to film a tricycle race inside the store. Unfortunately, Wal-Mart does not allow video recording inside their stores. We did end up with rather amusing footage of unrelenting store managers telling scavenger hunt teams they couldn't film.

Wal-Mart Tag is a far simpler game than most of the ones listed; that's what most of my friends and I usually end up doing after everything else is closed.
posted by Saellys at 9:24 AM on February 24, 2005


I've worked quite a few low-paying retail jobs, and I'm usually more amused than anything when people come in and mess around in the store, as long as they don't leave an insane mess, break things, or really piss off the other customers. When you're stocking shelves and fielding inane questions all day it's nice to have something different happen. It's not your merchandise and you're going to spend the whole time stocking/facing anyway, so a few misplaced items aren't a big deal. I would get a lot more pissed off finding something laying on the ground 3 inches from its peg than finding an action figure in a crock pot. The worst is dealing with the people who think that they deserve anything they want and feel their patronage is like a gift from on high. No, I cannot "get you a deal". If it's so cheap somewhere else, go there.
posted by nTeleKy at 12:35 PM on February 24, 2005


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