Feb. 18, 2011 at 1:14 PM ET
"People of Walmart has become a bona fide repository of Americana, a collection of anecdotes about cat litter and OxyContin, videos of dancing grannies — and photos. Terrible, terrible photos," Salon’s Mary Elizabeth Williams wrote of the user-submission website last year.
Needless to say, this bottomless gallery of back fat, toothless grins, drawn-on eyebrows and varying degrees of sartorial misjudgment is the last place you’d want to find yourself or — depending on how you feel about her — your mom.
So it’s not hard to understand Melanie Wheeler’s ire when she found her mother’s image among America’s teeming masses yearning for deep discounts, accompanied with the caption, "A member of the Canadian division of the Trench Coat Mafia."
"You can't be safe in a store while you're shopping?" the Ypsilanti, Michigan resident rhetorically asks the camera of her local Fox affiliate. "It upsets me. We have no privacy shopping? So, I could go into any store and take a picture of anybody or their children and put it up on a Web page?"
Yep, that’s pretty much how the First Amendment rolls, as Urlesque’s Molly McAleerpoints out: "If you're not in a private residence, you run the risk of having your photo snapped, even if you're just a regular, un-famous citizen."
While one wonders how Wheeler came upon her mom's photo — yukking it up until it got personal, perhaps? — the People of Walmart FAQ does state that if you find yourself and want the picture taken down, "Simply email us and we will take it down, no problem. If you like your photo but hate the caption or comment send us an email and we can remove it." You don't even need to call the local media first!
Perhaps Wheeler can take cold comfort that the description accompanying the photo of her mother wearing head-to-toe black is almost benign compared to some of the crueler captions accompanying copious fat rolls and rear décolletage.
Further, while "Trench Coat Mafia" refers to a former clique at Colorado's Columbine High School, the two teenagers responsible for the horrible tragedy that occurred there were never members. That was a myth.
More stories about the annoying way we live now: