Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Finding Friends at Wally-World

Walking in Walmart is my new way to make friends, it seems.

About a month or so ago, one of the Acquasizers accosted me outside the cereal aisle, up against the Lays Originals on sale at only $2/bag. For 15 minutes, she tried to convince me that I really truly absolutely had to abandon my current work-out plan and follow hers, including Aquatica, of course. I nodded politely at first, since I had no idea who she was when she hugged (with some force, I might add) her hello. Random love in Wally-World...... I'd have been nervous except she greeted me by name so she obviously knew who I was. Had TBG been there, he'd have realized immediately that I didn't remember her name, and he'd have rescued me by sticking out his hand and introducing himself, in the hope that she'd tell him her name in return. But, there I was, all alone by the generic corn flakes, listening to her re-arrange my life. When she'd finished her harangue she moved on while expressing her fervent desire that we share another work-out real soon.

I don't think so..... but it was nice of her to offer.

Had a long talk with the middle school track stars selling candy outside Wally's main doors last spring. They were raising money to send themselves to a meet somewhere far.... they knew the name of the school which was hosting the event, but there was some confusion as to its exact location.... New Mexico.... Texas..... someplace 9 hours on a please buy our candy bars so we can rent it bus. The parents were guarding the cash box and smiling proudly and letting the girls do the talking, and then one of the mom's walked into the store with me to help me find my hiking poles. I'm not sure how the conversation veered from 12 year old sprinters to 50-something hikers, but it did and she knew just where my poles were lurking and was delighted to escape the heat and take me right to them.

I wish I'd gotten her name and number.

So today, when I came upon the same 3 people near the dry goods (does anyone but me know that this means items which are not hardware or groceries?) as we examined the towels and then again as they were blocking the light bulbs and then again in front of the cold cases filled with milk I wasn't really surprised that we began a conversation. We'd started with "Excuse Me"'s and moved through "You, again??"'s and ended up sharing where did you live and why are you here and which did you like the most and where do you shop for.... and after sharing Chicago and New York and Pennsylvania and Florida stories I handed the bridge-playing 80-going-on-60 mother the Burrow's business card and we went our separate ways.

Riding into town to shop used to be an adventure. Think of the Bennett women shopping for ribbons and seeing Mr. Darcy and the Bingley's arrival through the haberdasher's window. Think of Michael Landon and his girls tying up the buckboard in front of the general store on that windswept street in town. Remember the Wells Fargo wagon a-coming to River City, with the whole town lining the way? There are greetings and information is exchanged and the socializing is as important as the buying.

Shopping at this time of year is not always easy and the stores are filled with amateurs but, for me, the socializing is part of the fun. We're all in it together, and, perhaps because of the season, there's a little more willingness to let the lady with the cane and only one item cut ahead of you in line. And then there are the random encounters with strangers who, I hope, will become readers.

Because I went out into the world today and I made some new friends.

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