The Road Revisited

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Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Chez Wal-Mart and Those Pesky Architects -- My First Night In Coeur d'Alene

didn't sleep well in the Wal-Mart parking lot the night I got to Coeur d'Alene. The lights, which kept away burglers and other beings of ill repute, also shone like a noon-time sun, making sleep impossible. My feet had been gnawed by mosquitoes to the point where I would wake up scratching. Braless, in sweatpants, I fumbled into the florescent glow of the 3 AM Wal-Mart, trying to paint myself pink with Calamine lotion. One thing I've noticed, having become a connoseiur of Wal-Marts, is that every single one is laid out eerily the same, although some are a mirror image. Either the health care products are directly to your left, or directly to your right. In Missoula they were to the right. In Coeur d'Alene they were to the left. In the fifties, towns had their own individual flair, little nuances that set them apart from the rest. I am scared of the day towns are set apart by the architecture of their Wal-Marts. I hope I'm dead by then.

The terrible thing that Wal-Mart architects, their souls be damned, have done is switch around the layout of the restrooms. If they cared at all about the people who kept them in business, they would have a strict uniform policy of ladies' room on the right and men's room on the left. But no, they like to make it interesting. So if you're like me, which hopefully you're not, and you venture sleepy-eyed into a Wal-Mart at an ungodly hour of the morning, you remember where your respective restroom was from the last Wal-Mart you were in, and march forth blindly into the men's room. Which, might I add, does not have any urinals or any other such apparatus to set it apart from the women's room. It looks exactly like the women's room from the last Wal-Mart you were in. So how do you know you're in the men's room? You don't. Even when a man -- a literal, flesh and blood male -- looks over the top of the stall you are in, and you cry out and cover yourself with your hands, even then, it does not occur to you that perhaps you wandered into the wrong bathroom. "What is he doing in the ladies' room?" you wonder to yourself. "He must be the janitor, checking to see if anyone's in here before mopping the floor." Even when another guy comes in, sees you washing your hands at the sink and gasps, it does not occur to you that you are in the wrong. "They are clearly in the wrong," you think. "Those men should learn how to read, or at least interpret those little gender hieroglyphics." Then you walk out of the bathroom, bleary-eyed and braless, to face your shame. Yes, dear reader, I hope you are not like me.


At 8:15 AM, Blogger fhqwhgads said...

I was at a Margaritaville in Jamaica yesterday, and it took me a second or two to figure out if I was a parrot with a peg leg or if I was a parrot holding a pineapple. Then I noticed that the parrot with the pineapple was wearing a pearl necklace and longer eyelashes than the other. Luckily, I chose wisely.


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