Don’t Mess with Towanda

A chore to say and a chore to do, that’s an errand. Weekends in suburbia: the runneth of errands. Oh boy.

Last weekend, Stockton and I hit the streets. We checked off items from our list–the monthly Target run, a drop off at Goodwill, and picking up the mail at the post office. The last item was a Trader Joe’s run.


Don’t get me wrong, I love Trader Joe’s. At least, I mean I love eating things bought from Trader Joe’s. I love the idea of Trader Joe’s and the helpful employees and the items sold there. All great stuff. But, the two stores in my region are located in what I would call crazy busy areas, the kind of metro areas and parking lots that you avoid at all costs. It’s like how awful the mall is the last weekend before Christmas: everyone drives distracted and frazzled. Turn signals are rare and stalking is culturally accepted. Oh, he has two big bags from Macy’s, honey. Looks like he might be fishing for his car keys, he must be parked nearby. Follow him!

These places are always last-weekend-before-Christmas populated. Thinking about it gives me heart palpitations. So, we put off the TJ’s run. Until the desire for some Curried White Chicken Deli Salad or Triple Ginger Snaps or a box of Joe’s O’s encourages us to endure the battle that will be getting to, shopping at, and leaving Trader Joe’s.

I inhale and brace as Stockton turns into the shopping plaza. Cars move in every direction, randomly starting and stopping. Club music blares from a nearby vehicle. I adjust my sunglasses. We crawl closer to TJ’s. The first row we drive down yields no parking spots. We circle the lot. I see other vehicles trolling the adjoining lanes. Every spot taken. No walkers laden with bags.

We coast down the last row. Wait. Halfway down, an SUV reverses. Perfect. Stockton eases up to allow the SUV to exit the space. Unfortunately, the SUV is leaving a spot on the left, which possibly leaves us–drivers on the right in the US–vulnerable to a sneaky driver opposite us. We wait as the SUV driver backs up with sloth. She is probably exhausted by her errand running, too. Can’t blame her.

The SUV blocks any limited sight I have of oncoming parking lot trolls. As it pulls away, I see a boxy shape materialize.

“Oh no you don’t.” Stockton flicks on his turn signal. He leans on the horn, releases the clutch and accelerates in one fluid movement like a ballet sequence of driving logistics.

I see our foe: a wily Prius driver. The parking lot scene from Fried Green Tomatoes flashes through my mind. We need more Towanda, less Evelyn right now. Stockton maneuvers our fire-breathing Subaru neatly into the open parking space, cutting off the queue-jumping Prius. Sometimes, you gotta enforce those social norms.

“There is no way I was going to let a Prius get that spot.” Stockton smiles as he engages the e-brake. The Prius sulks away to another lane.

We step out of the car into the spring sunshine, a good omen for our grocery shopping errand. The trip to TJ’s never fails to be interesting.


2 Comments Add yours

  1. Anonymous says:

    Love trader joes!! Susan!! Have u tried their wine?

    1. Nope. The stores around here aren’t allowed to sell it.

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