It’s 11 o’clock at night and you’ve been driving for eight hours, most of which was spent trying to get to your next destination, but for the last hour and a half you’ve been trying to find a place to camp for the night where you’re not going to get a knock on the window at 2 o’clock in the morning from a police officer asking you to move on. Then you see it: the familiar blue and at this point God-like sign for Walmart.
You and your partner are excited, the end is in sight, but you’re still concerned about spending the night at Walmart. You’re not in a great part of town, what if there’s no other campers there and you’re alone and a sitting duck in half-acre cement parking lot that’s lit up like the NASA space station?
Then you pull in to the parking area and you relax, it’s all going to be okay, there are eight other RVs there, all of gigantic proportions and each likely costing more than $100,000, a far cry from your van that’s held together with some chewing gum and a prayer. You back your teeny tiny little VW camper in between two behemoths and their slide-outs, and listen to the familiar sound of the generators that run on these beasts all night long.
And you know you’re home.
Even better, you know that the next morning you will be able to get up and wander into the Walmart, use the washroom, wash up at the sink, and possibly even snag some coffee or a hashbrown or two from the McDonald’s inside. Out of milk? Walmart has it! Need some papertowels or toilet paper? Walmart has that, too.
All these things are why when I now see a Walmart sign I get an instantaneous feeling of well being, almost like Pavlov’s dogs. And this is why Walmart is a marketing genius. Some might say, why do they let RVs park in the parking lot overnight? Where’s the benefit? THAT is the benefit, right there. Only unlike us, the other RVers may actually shop at Walmart for things other than the necessities, but either way the free camping has definitely changed my perception of this mega-corporation.