It was inevitable. We fought as long as possible but everyone knew it was a losing battle. The Keys are doomed.
For the last three years, developers, who believe every square inch of dry ground on these islands should not have anything which is not man made on them, have been scheming and plotting to build a shopping center on Rockland Key. Rockland Key sits at mile marker 9 just a short drive from Key West. At the spot where said shopping center is planned there has been nothing but an old concrete plant, and a porn shop. The area is wide open with few other buildings and residences close to it. Developers of course, always look at such spots as a place to make more money. So said developers bought said land, and began the long slow process of bribery, extortion, and empty promises to get their little palace built. That was three years ago.
When word of the project hit the fan, many questions arose. Environmental impact? No problem. Traffic congestion? Not to worry. Who will be the tenants? Which was when the rumors started to fly. Wallymart, of course was at the top of the list. Target was rumored as was Dick’s Sporting Goods, and a few others. But it always came back to wallymart.
One of the things we like to brag about here in Key West to the tourists is up to now, we have lived closer to Havana than we do to a wallymart. Havana being 90 miles away, the nearest wallymart in Florida City, 130 miles away. And for most of us, everything was fine. But no. There are always those who worship at the foot of consumerism. The people who come down here for short periods of time, like snow birds, or those who cannot wrap their little minds around island living, and bitched, moaned, whined, and sniveled about the lack of shopping here at the end of the world. Those of us who don’t spend every fucking hard earned dollar on trinkets and junk, have been quite happy with the existing stores. And now, if we can’t find what we want, there is the magic of the internet to sate our thirst for more crap. But there are those who simply cannot wean themselves from wallymart’s tit. And it looks like they will get what they want.
This past week, wallymart sent in their best and brightest bullshit artists. These are the higher ups who come down and tell everyone with a question exactly what they want to hear. Wallymart cares about the community. They understand the issue of affordable housing. They will work with the county to do what is right. There will be jobs with fair wages and benefits. There will be no overnight parking, (the lodging lobby and rv parks whined about that one). Jesus himself will return just to shop there. Oh yeah, one could get diabetes from the sugar coating they put on this turd. It’s all bullshit, lies, and misdirection, and the powers that be down here, governments, commerce chambers, home owners, went for it like a barracuda goes after something shiny.
In the old west, when some snake oil salesman came rolling into a town, they were exposed immediately and run out of town on a rail, or hung out by the town entrance as warning to others. Not here. Everyone is drinking the wallymart elixir and they are going to regret it. Wallymart and the developers of this project have one thing and one thing only on their evil little minds…make as much money off this with as little investment as possible. Anyone who believes otherwise is a fool, and there are no shortage of fools on these islands.
Make no mistake, wallymart will provide an outlet for those demanding more better shopping in the Keys. They will have their full line of cheap garbage for all to revel in. People from Key West to Marathon will rejoice and flock to this shrine to consumerism the moment they open their doors. They will temporarily sate their lust for more crap, but like drugs, the euphoria will only last a short time. Then they will have to go back to buy more and more and more. If there is any upside, it just means later on there will be more yard sales with more crap to chose from, as people desperately try to raise cash they wasted on said crap, to pay next month’s rent.
Leave us forget for a moment, the wonderful low prices and variety of choices in goods and crap that wallymart offers, and look at what they will do for the worker bees. Any promise of good paying jobs is a flat out lie and there might be a milkman in Bugtustle, Iowa who doesn’t know better. Wallymart is notorious for having low paying, high stress jobs. The wages are barely above minimum, which down here means you cannot afford to live here based on what they pay. Working conditions are stressful and by all accounts little better than sweatshops. Wallymart does offer benefits, but rarely pays them out. They have come up with some unique schemes to pay as little out to the “associates”, (derived from the latin meaning dumb shit who will do anything you tell them to do for a buck), by limiting the hours one works during the week.
By keeping a worker bee’s hours below 40, said worker bee is now considered to be part time rather than full time, and therefore not subject to being qualified for benefits like insurance. It’s a common practice in wallymart to do this. You can hire more worker bees and hence, brag you are providing more jobs. But in reality they are just getting more people to work less hours. It’s cheaper in they don’t have to pay out all those expensive benefits. Less government paper work, and the worker bees can be hired or fired at the whim of any higher ups.
The real jobs, the management positions, the ones that actually pay good money will not go to anyone who is local. They will be filled by others within the company who have kissed the proper asses to gain favor for a chance to live in the Keys. The really bad part about this is, said managers will come down with a corporate attitude, not an island attitude. They will have no idea what island living is all about and will care not a fig about it. They will be under the gun to produce profits, and when they fail, and they will, others will be waiting in line to take their place.
And speaking of outsiders, you can bet that not one company anywhere in Monroe County will be given a chance to bid and work on the construction of this consumer cathedral. The developers have their own contractors in their back pockets and other than the occasional hire of some minimum wage strong backs/weak minds, no one down here will get any benefit from the construction.
Wallymart is the epitome of consumerism. People worship this place. They depend on wallymart to give meaning to their lives. Going there and finding a bargain, in their minds means they have succeeded in some small way. In reality, wallymart is a drug. It pulls one in with false promises and a brief euphoria. Walking down the aisles makes one feel empowered because they have so many choices in goods. They fill their carts, and eventually their homes with this crap. And when the time comes to pay other bills, they can only look at their crap and regret their choices. But they never stop buying more. No matter how badly they need money to pay for other things, like rent, debt, or whatever, they can alway justify another trip to wallymart. Because this time, dammit, the trinkets they buy will make their lives more better, guaranteed.
Well, this is what people want down here. The shopping center will be built. Wallymart will get their claws into the islands. It’s suppose to happen by 2017. When this place does open, it will have a profound effect on other businesses here in Key West all the way to Marathon. Small local shops will suffer the most. People will desert them for the more better prices. Traffic will be bad up there, make no mistake about it. No turd polishing will fix that. There will be no shortage of people willing to sell their souls to work there either. They will buy into the propaganda of a “career” at wallymart. And when they are tossed to the curb, they will be poorer, but no wiser. And the place will be packed every day it is open. You can bet everyone, well, everyone but your’s truly, will be there with credit cards at the ready, to take advantage of the wondrous and money saving deals one can get at the church of wallymart.
The county, who only looks at the taxes it will make from this, pretty much rubber stamped this insult to all things Keysy. A few environmental groups, and the occasional blogger will protest, but it will fall on deaf ears. This is a done deal and all that remains is for the people of Monroe County and Key West to drop their drawers and bend over because the fucking is just getting started. Wallymart will not in any way, shape, or form, follow through on their promises of community support, fair housing, or livable wages. They would not build this place unless they saw profits in it, and they do. And once they are in, they will never leave. It’s the way things are now and it’s a damn shame.
Another piece of the Keys is gone. And this one hurts.
Seriously, if you work at this place and have to do this every fucking day, quit now. No. Don’t argue.
QUIT RIGHT FUCKING NOW!
You are a human being. You have dignity and a purpose in life. This ain’t it. Show some goddam respect for yourself. Toss that blue vest in the trash where it belongs, walk out, and reclaim your life back as it is meant to be.