The story you are about to read is true.  You cannot make this stuff up.

It’s a task I try to avoid unless absolutely necessary: a trip to Wal-Mart.  Why, you ask?  Several reasons come to mind.  Mainly, I’m a guy.  I don’t like to spend unnecessary time in a store. I know what I want and I like to just get in and get out. That’s not so easy to do at a Wal-Mart.  And half the time I feel so overdressed for the trip.  I don't even own pajamas.  Nonetheless, there are those times when a man has to do what a man has to do.

First things first; you have to park. This is a personal challenge at every Wal-Mart store I’ve ever visited.  It doesn’t matter what city you’re in, they’re all the same. Multiple people, already agitated for various reasons, jockeying for position on a field of blood sport.  So here I go in my SUV, cheating death by even being on Lawrence Road in the first place at this time of year. I manage to get into the parking lot without a scratch, but I’m immediately surrounded by hordes of desperate Christmas shoppers in their last minute panic, all of whom hate me for no other reason than I might sneak into their spot.

I don’t really care if I park close to an entrance, I just want to live through this experience, so I make a move for what I think is a safe space.  No dice.  I am immediately cut off by a mid-90’s Toyota Camry that comes to a screeching halt, smoke still billowing from its ready-to-pop tires. I’m ready to let some jerk have it, when I see that the driver is not a man but in fact a woman. Emerging from this vehicle is a female, probably in her 40’s, no more than 5 feet and 4 inches in height, weighing in at a fairly solid 300 pounds, with forearms the size of Hulk Hogan’s thighs and wielding a bag with a skull on the side.   I think she had a Mike Tyson style tattoo on her face.  I decide to let this one go and live to fight another day.

I move a couple of rows over.  There’s a nice sized spot next to one of those cart racks that Wal-Mart patrons never use.  Before I can get to it, however, I am beaten by another SUV.  The driver can barely get it in park before six children come pilling out. Right behind them is a woman I assume is their mother. She’s dressed in pajamas (I’m not kidding), her lips clinging to a cigarette as she desperately tries to wrangle the Brady Bunch into order. From the driver’s side steps a man, a haggard, tired, clearly-on-the-verge-of-a-nervous-breakdown looking man, who lags behind a good ten feet, probably hoping I’ll just run him over and put him out of his misery.

Okay.  Third times got to be a charm, right?

Now, my frustration has reached a fever pitch.  I need one lousy item in that store.  Ten minutes and I’ll be outta here.  But first I have to park.  I decide I’m just going to park on the outskirts of the lot and hike the distance to the door.  At last, I’ve found a spot!  Not a single car within five spaces of me.

Just as I’m about to open my door a Dodge dually pulls up alongside of me, towing a fifth wheel travel trailer that could hold a couple of Serbian villages. Does he continue on?  Nah!  He stops so that the butt end of this magnificent home on wheels stops just behind my driver side door.  I honk and get no response.  At this point, I’ve lost whatever religion I had left and began saying words that would make Gen. Mad Dog Mattis as red as Santa’s suit.  I take off once again, this time catching myself barreling into the parking lot like its Texas Motor Speedway.

But then, I stopped. Frustrated and out of breath, I just stopped. It occurred to me, nothing inside this mega-store is worth the stroke I’m trying to give myself just attempting to park. I sat there for  a moment, pondering the tantrum I’d just thrown and realizing that Christmas is about so much more than whatever material thing we can wrap up to impress someone. It’s a time to celebrate the birth of our Savior.  It’s a time when we should be a little kinder towards one another; a time to relax a little and be thankful for another year.  And with those thoughts in mind, I decided to do what any reasonable man should do.

I drove to another store and paid $1.50 more for the item I wanted.  And I got to park right in front, too.

Merry Christmas everyone.

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