Tuesday, November 25, 2008

A Walmart Moment

There are these small moments in our lives that seem like nothing when they happen, but upon reflection, you realize....epiphany! I had such a moment this afternoon, in the most unlikely place to have an epiphany, Walmart. Although my friend Ben Rosenfield likes to quip that "God lives at Walmart," my feelings diverge from that viewpoint. Walmart, to me, is a place to be avoided. In fairness to the Walton family, it isn't just Walmart; I avoid any big box place that looks the same whether it's in Wisconsin, Iowa or Australia. Give me a small local business anytime, though it is hard to find them anymore.

Today, I had little choice, however. The secretary called down to my classroom to let me know the custodian thought it was my car with the flat, flat tire with a nail in it. Fair guess. Mine is the only car in the school parking lot with a storytelling bumper sticker. Sure enough, it was flatter than flat, and though the custodian filled the tire, it was hissing faster than the compressor could fill it. My best option at that point was to fill it, put the pedal to the metal and get to the nearest express auto center...which in this case was Super Walmart.

Off I went, and it being the lunch hour, the place was busy. An interesting group of us lined up at the counter: a young black man decked out in Bears outerwear; a well dressed office worker lady; a gothic looking young couple with all visible body parts pierced multiple times; and myself, local educator dressed for Friday casual, since this is the last school day before break. We all stood there, wordless, which it seems is often the case while waiting in line, especially with such a diverse looking group. Finally, the office worker lady said to the Bears fan, "Sorry about last week!"

This is Packer country, folks. Yes, the Green Bay Packers have a following, even when they play as they did last night, which was embarrassing. That opened the door. We were all sharing our personal football raves and faves, offering false condolences to the Bears fan, who simply tossed it back after last night's game.

Football talk. Not exactly the "high art" of storytelling, but as I was driving home from work on my newly patched tire, it struck me; would we even have said a word to one another if the door hadn't been opened to share our football stories? This was the kind of group sociologists would love to analyze, each of us so different from the next as to be part of our own little subculture.

Stories unite us, open doors of commonality and allow us to connect with one another, pierced or perfectly coiffed, black or pale white. And to think...this epiphany brought to you by Walmart, always the low price!


At 12:55 PM, Blogger Helena said...

Cool story! It's interesting to see what will get strangers talking in a situation like that. (Babies are a good opener, but rarely involve more than a couple of people.)


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