Thursday, December 08, 2011

Freezing Your Ass Off For Walmart

A poster informs public bus riders of a new moronic policy put in effect by Consumer Square Plaza property owners.

You stand there, waiting for the bus, stomping your feet to keep the blood flowing. You're being pelted by cold rain or stinging sleet or icy snow or a combination of all three. The wind buffets you, sub-zero windchill temps piercing you to the bone. The scarf wrapped around your head is an ineffective shield: your face is going numb. Frostbite?

Winters can be tough here in the North Country.

But it's really tough for disabled and elderly people on limited incomes who don't have their own transportation. They rely on the bus system, Clinton County Public Transportation (CCPT). At some stops there is a shelter to protect them from the elements. At other stops such as the mall they can stay inside a warm building and watch for the bus.

That used to be the option for bus riders who shopped at Consumer Square Plaza. Many people living on low incomes stretch their few dollars at Walmart. They could wait inside at the main Walmart entrance and catch the bus when it made its stop out front.

But not anymore thanks to a new policy. The public bus must now stop in the middle of nowhere in the expansive parking lot, an unsheltered spot between Walmart and Sam's Club. But this policy wasn't handed down by Walmart or CCPT. It's a moronic move by the property owners of Consumer Square who control the parking lot.

The property owners say that the Walmart front entrance must be kept free for emergency vehicles. Understandable up to a point. Of course, leaving bus riders completely outdoors without any shelter -- especially the elderly and the disabled -- could end up with someone falling victim to the wintry weather. It won't be suprising if serious injury or even a death results.

Oh well, if it means extra calls for the ambulance, at least it won't be slowed down by a bus or other vehicles stopped in front of Walmart.

Maybe. I rode the bus yesterday evening and the driver had a problem making a turn because someone with a SUV was parked guess where.

Before I took my trip uptown a woman -- young and healthy -- was also waiting for the bus. She asked me how long it took to get to Walmart. I gave her what I thought was the ETA and then mentioned the new policy.

She decided to shop instead at Target in the mall. Where you can wait comfortably indoors at the rear mall entrance and catch the bus.

She became a satisfied mall, not Consumer Square, shopper.

Gee, I used the term "moronic" to describe the new policy, didn't I?

But things will be better after the six months of winter are over. Then bus riders can stand in the middle of the Consumer Square parking lot on a blazing summer day and suffer heatstroke.

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