In another world, not too dissimilar from ours, the following article was placed on the wire by the Associated Press for use in mid-week editions of various local news papers.
Yesterday Wallmart announced the inauguration of its “Cruisin Carts” program. The company had long resigned itself to the fact that the appropriation of shopping carts by the homeless was inevitable. Not wanting, however, to remain victim to this phenomenon, and looking for ways to create opportunity, their marketing department has come up with a program that provides, “mutual benefit for both the company and for the homeless.” As one young executive was noted to say, “I believe we have created something that truly captures the spirit of wise self-interest.”
In this program Wallmart will be giving shopping carts to people who are able to prove non-residency. The proof of non-residency is as yet unspecified, though there has been talk in upper management of using negative body odor as a criterion to be used in conjunction with a general appearance of unkemptness. The shopping carts that the homeless will be issued are generous in size (approaching Cost-Co proportions), made of a sturdy, all-weather plastic, with a galvanized metal frame, and will have signboards on them that will advertise Wallmart’ latest sales. This, according to Wallmart executives, is to allow their faithful patrons to keep up with, “the latest and greatest that Wallmart has to offer.”
Under the umbrella of this program, will be an incentive program for its participants. The incentives are to encourage the homeless to travel through out their cities to increase the visibility of their advertisements. It is also to encourage the partakers of this program to return once a month to Wallmart so that the signs on the carts can be replaced and updated. Among the incentives will be give-aways, coupons, and discounts for Wallmart merchandise, as well as for the various fast-food restaurants hosted in Wallmart. The incentives will be based upon performance, which is determined by the number of miles traveled by its participants. This will be monitored by odometers that will be mounted on the shopping carts.
Response to this program by the general public has been diverse, but on the whole positive. As one lady, Adie-Lou Smith, has stated, “I think it’ great that [Wallmart] has created a program that gives the homeless something useful to do, while at the same time providing some benefit for us consumers.”