Parking lot palaver


Today’s entry in the time-honored “don’t rush to judgement” category…

Sometimes, particularly on Sundays (while reading the fat newspaper), I like to have a totally sweet breakfast.  This usually revolves around some sort of cookie, cake or bakery item and a tall glass of milk (sadly, 2% these days, one of my few concessions to better health).

Occasionally, when this mood strikes, I find I have nothing to satisfy the craving.  This leads to restless striding around the kitchen, opening and closing the refrigerator and pantry while considering and summarily discarding alternates to my sweetness desire.

Though I have a grocery store 3 minutes walk away, it doesn’t open until 7 am.  Yeah, I know, that should be early enough for any sane human being, especially on a Sunday, but when did I ever state a claim of sanity?

Fortunately, I have a “super” Wal-Mart about 8 minutes drive south of me and they are open 24 hours.  That means, this lifetime 5 am riser can get out to the store and back before my grocery store’s employees have even started arriving.

A spillover benefit of the pre-dawn shopping trip is the rare opportunity to shop Wal-Mart when there is practically no one there.  A small drawback is that only one cashier is on duty, situated directly in the middle of the checkout lanes, far away from the food section.  I presume this is because that register is next to the cigarettes and smokers probably are even more desperate than sweets cravers.

This past Sunday, as I pulled into a primo spot right in front of the door, there was only one other car in the parking lot.  The sun was well over an hour from rising and the lights in the parking lot were not outstanding, but I could clearly see a heavy-set man asleep behind the wheel of the parked car.  I hesitated a moment, considering all manner of imaginative thoughts ranging from silly to serious, but proceeded into the store without undue concern (craving wins over curiosity).

Inside the store, most of the aisles were cluttered with boxes and stockers, which made for an entertaining obstacle course I could run with the cart.  As far as I could tell, there was only one other customer in the store.  Of course, like these things always happen, we actually ended up intersecting twice during our time there.

Sadly, my first choice for treats was unavailable (powdered donuts), but secondary selections (fudge graham cookies, mini eclairs) were around.  Strangely, the detergent aisle was relatively empty and I couldn’t pick up some extra washing machine soap (hey, I don’t want the trip to be only sweets!).

Rolling the cart the length of the store (halfway over to the register in the middle and then halfway back the other way to exit), I casually headed to the car to pop the trunk.  It was still early enough that I could put the cookies in the fridge to get them cold by the time the paper arrived.  Nummy!

As I moved to get in the front seat, the man who had been asleep accosted me, asking me general questions about my car.  Being a reasonably polite and sociable person, I responded as fully as I could and queried him back.

Apparently he was trying to decide about whether to keep his current vehicle (paid for and seven years old) or buy a new one.  He lamented the fact that there were no real “full size” cars anymore and he was impressed by my Avalon (further impressed when I told him mine was seven years old as well).

As we were talking, his wife came out with the bags of groceries.  Of course, it was the lady with whom I had crossed cart paths with earlier.  There ensued an extended conversation ranging from cars to kids to values to state of the economy to the appeal of Florida versus northern weather.

After more than 30 minutes, I finally made the types of comments one generally makes when you are trying to “wrap up” a conversation.  It wasn’t that the conversation was less interesting, it’s just that my craving had kicked in again and the whispers of sunlight were appearing in the east.

As I pulled out of the spot, waving to the couple, it occurred to me that the exchange that had just happened was not in any of the scenarios dancing through my head when I first saw the sleeping man behind the wheel in the dark Wal-Mart parking lot.

I had to admit, my smile as I drove home was at least half because of the chance friendly encounter…

…though the rest of the smile was in anticipation of those chilled fudge cookies and cold milk.  Nummy!

Leave a Reply

  • (will not be published)