Jonathan Wright


I had almost forgotten what it was like.

This past Monday evening was fairly balmy, an excellent time to get out, and I had some things to get at Dollar Tree and Wal-Mart. With my younger son at my side, I drove to the big store, parked the car, and took a relaxed jaunt with him over to Dollar Tree before heading back over to its mega-mart neighbor.

The warm air and the relatively early hour lent themselves to a slower pace, quite a contrast to that of our past severe winter. I found the items I needed, which, of course, was the primary purpose of my trip. But I purposely found myself winding down a bit to do some people-watching.

In case you haven’t noticed, Wal-Mart is prime territory for people-watching.

Rarely can you go there without seeing someone you know. I think it’s happened once or twice to me—but I can’t remember exactly when. While simply running up and down the aisles in search of your needed items, you’re almost certain to run into friends and acquaintances.

That’s a good thing (unless you’re in a hurry and have little time to talk). Despite the main purpose of large, prominent stores such as Wal-Mart, K-Mart, Kroger, and the like—which is to relieve you of your money—an inevitable fringe benefit of visiting them is clearly the opportunity to see a wide variety of friends and catch up on the latest news.

You might notice that the social aspect of the retail giant has manifested itself into the almost-nightly assemblies of teens and young adults in the parking lot who gather around their beefed-up pickup trucks mostly and chatter away into the night with total abandon.

True Americana.

After being confined to the indoors of our homes, schools, and businesses the past several months, the warmer air irresistibly lures us out into the more public areas where we can enjoy one of humanity’s favorite pastimes: seeing and being seen.

Whereas this social activity years ago was limited primarily to sitting out on front porches or walking around the downtown area, it’s now moved to both the parking lots and insides of a community’s largest retail store.

Unless you’re a recluse and enjoy your solitude, you can’t help but be enticed by all this on warm spring and summer nights. The mega-mart is calling you to leave your home for a while, amble around the giant store or its parking lot a while, and see who you might run into.

Go ahead—follow the call one of these warm evenings. You know you want to. Your social side needs to be where the town’s people congregate.

Enjoy. It’s spring again.



more recommended stories