I’m considering making a significant change in my life regarding my shopping habits. I have a favorite place, a retail store if you will, which I frequent once or twice a month. This large store with thousands of nation-wide locations seems to have just about any and everything I, or anyone else for that matter, could possibly need or want. Well, you probably guessed it; my favorite store is the local Walmart.
As the decades and odd number of years of my life continue to increase I find that my eyesight worsens but my insight becomes more astute; having said that I can now get to the crux of this bit of writing. I found that my car was almost always parked crooked and straddling the white parking space lines. Walmart had obviously manipulated the size of the parking spaces on their lot in an effort to accommodate more vehicles which transport eager shoppers. I knew there would be those who looked upon my assertion as ridiculous so I set out to validate my hypothesis.
I traveled that same familiar eighteen and six-tenth mile route which I had driven so many times on my way to that Wal-Mart store. I was determined to get to the bottom of this conspiracy and I had devised a plan. However, my plan would require that I park in that same spot at the end of row number 9.
As usual the store’s parking lot, save for a handful of handicap parking spaces, was almost full but I was confident that nobody would want to park in that particular space that was such a great walking distance from the store’s entrance. However, I was mistaken. There parked in that space which I needed for my experiment was a Toyota Camry. My will power would be tested but I was not to be deterred so I parked just across from that space and waited for the blue colored car’s owner to return. After the passage of thirty or so minutes which seemed like more than twice that number an older appearing gentleman got into the car and drove away. I wondered if he had also noticed the unusually narrow parking space.
The parking spaces were seemingly all the same size but then the answer came to me. The clever retailer must have purposely made the parking spaces farthest away from the store’s entrance smaller in order to create a greater number of spaces. You know, so more shoppers could park their cars. I was obsessed with the prospect of measuring the width of that parking space.
I considered entering the large store with the purpose of buying a metal tape measure however I considered the possibility that if Walmart was clever enough to shrink the size of the parking spaces why would it not be possible that twelve foot tape measures would actually be eleven feet eight inches; after all, although the difference in length would be minimal at best if hundreds of thousands of the measuring devices were sold the savings in material needed to manufacture them could be substantial thusly resulting in greater profits. How devilishly clever must those people be but I was on a mission and furthermore I had come prepared. I brought my green fuzzy blanket.
I stretched the fuzzy green blanket out a few feet and laid my 5 foot 10 inch frame on that parking space surface with my feet touching one of the white painted lines. Ok, this might seem extreme to some of you but I calculated that it was the best means to avoid the use of any Wal-Mart sold, and tampered with, device. I would not allow that retailer and seller of altered tape measures or faulty rulers to outsmart me.
Placing my now shrinking body in a prone position I stretched those old bones out while resting directly in front of my car. Lying there with my back against that blanket and with my arms fully extended I first measured the width of my car. After a moment or two and only when I believed I had a good comparison of how my prone position length compared to the width of my Huyndai did I move. That asphalt parking surface was surely hot but I surmised that the “fuzziness properties” of the blanket insulated my back from that heat.
Oh sure, there were stares and I overheard an occasional laugh as shoppers walked to and from their cars and pickup trucks but I was determined and would not be deterred. One well-meaning woman stopped and for a moment gazed at me with a puzzled look. “Excuse me, are you alright? Do you want me to call the police or possibly an ambulance?” “No thanks,” I replied. “This may appear somewhat odd but I’m conducting an experiment.” The kindly meaning lady had no way of understanding my actions and I was certain she thought me to be somewhat touched. “Whatever makes you happy,” she said as she walked away without ever looking back.
Removing a slip of paper from my shirt pocket I scoured over the propaganda inspired writing which both Walmart and Hyundai disseminated to the unsuspecting public. The parking space was reported to be 9 feet or 2.7432 meters wide while that black Hyundai was reported to be 6 feet 1 inch, or 1.8542 meters in length. I needed the measurement in both feet and meters after all, the Hyundai was of South Korean lineage.
In the end I came to the only conclusion possible. That Itsy-bitsy parking space was too narrow and the car was too wide. My car’s manufacturer must have made a mistake, possibly by design. My Hyundai Sonata is quite obviously wider than other Sonatas like it. This error in the manufacturing process must be very rare and it is quite possible that I own the one and only greater than stated width vehicle in existence. The little Hyundai’s rareness might make it very valuable.
As I am such a predictable creature of habit I drove home from that Wal-Mart store taking the route I have taken so many times before. I traveled north on that relatively new and boring stretch of highway until I reached the exit that reminded me to leave that four lane slab of concrete behind.
I made a right-hand turn onto the old Noel to Pineville Road where the winding two lanes offered much more of interest to me. With the slow moving waters of Elk River on one side of the road and the tree covered bluffs on the other I almost always found a pastoral scene that captured my fancy.
However, I recall that I was getting more than a little annoyed with the lady that lives inside my car’s audio system. I find that as I age I hear her voice more often than I care to. She scolds me when I forget to securely close my door, close my trunk or fasten my seatbelt. And most annoying of all, she initiates the most teeth mashing chime when the tires of my car come into contact with either the road’s center line or shoulder.
I suppose I was already a little tired of painted stripes on parking lots and roads that afternoon but it seemed to me that she cautioned me about touching those white and yellow lines far too often on that hot summer’s afternoon. I have recently become suspicious of everything and everyone and I believe that the lanes on that old road are far too narrow hence I have decided to determine their width.
I believe that the only true and accurate method of determining that expanse would be to lie on my green fuzzy blanket sprawled across each lane while comparing that length with my five foot ten inch frame. I suppose that the best time to do that would be when the chances of traffic are somewhat lessened therefore I have decided to check the measurement at 4:00 a.m. on a weeknight, holidays excluded of course.
So, if you should find that your journey takes you on the Noel to Pineville Road at around 4:00 a.m. stay alert and should you observe someone lying in the roadway and cushioned only by a fuzzy blanket please slowly drive and carefully maneuver your vehicle around my outstretched body.
Meanwhile, my at rest Hyundai continues to straddle the white parking space lines at the local Walmart store. You know, I just might have to shop somewhere else; a place where the white parking space lines are more generously separated.