I think I’m going to run for some sort of national office and my campaign platform is going to be simple yet life changing. Everyone attempting to get a driver’s license will first have to prove proficient at navigating a convenience store parking lot. Because the skills you must possess to successfully exit the area without any discernible damage to your car, your mental health, or your middle finger prove that you are, indeed, ready for any of life’s abundant challenges. The sheer number of people who wouldn’t be able to pass this test would make the roads safer for generations. (You’re welcome.)
Last week, I saw my life flash before my eyes when I made a “QuikTrip” stop for a Diet Coke. The convenience store I decided to almost end my life at is located by an interstate and a busy city road making it ground zero for any kind of IQ/driver’s test wrapped up in a road rage tortilla. Then to up the danger factor there’s a hospital across the street. Now, I know most of you are thinking wouldn’t a hospital do just the opposite and make things safer? Let me answer that with a great big no. To fully explain why, I will now take you through a morning at the QuikTrip.
I pull into the parking lot and don’t even attempt to find a gas pump. It’s too dangerous at 7:50 a.m. You have the pump circlers and the pump blockers going at it. The pump circlers are those drivers who, at a high rate of speed, much like a pace car at Daytona, lap the gas area in an attempt to find an empty stall. You do not want to get behind one of these goobers as they’re known for stopping short in their rush to claim a soon to be empty pump.
The pump blocker is the fool who, through some divine gift of second sight from the goddess of petroleum, believes they can predict who will be done pumping gas first and then places their car in a “next up” position thus creating a traffic hazard. It can get nasty when the pump blocker impedes the forward progress of the pump circler. Like, turn-you-right-off -your-morning-beverage nasty.
Once I’m parked, preferably off to the side of the store, I exit my car to go inside and get my Diet Coke. When that mission has been accomplished, my single goal is to leave the QuikTrip unscathed. But always, something is going on to up the degree of difficulty of me accomplishing that objective. Today, it’s two large landscape trucks nestled on either side of my car and a roofing van, with a large, overburdened trailer, in a “let’s make our own horizontal parking spot” behind me. The sheer size of their rigs has created the mother of all blind spots. I might as well close my eyes and back up because the accuracy would be about the same. I decide safety first and wait it out. Fortunately, it doesn’t take long before the roofing crew leaves and I begin to ever so slowly back out.
Slow is the key word of surviving this QuikTrip. You never exceed 2 mph if you want to get out alive. Because just when you think you’ve dodged all the cars exiting the gas pumps, the parking spots (real and rogue), and the two entrances off the highway something unexpected happens like three women in wheelchairs rolling in from the hospital across the street. Except one woman keeps on rolling backwards because of the slight incline to the QuikTrip. But, wait there’s more – her reverse rolling wheelchair is headed straight for a guy, with a walker. It’s a driver’s ed film come to life.
Thankfully, a gentleman pumping gas goes over and grabs the wheelchair before it cause any human carnage, and then pushes the woman up to the entrance of the QuikTrip. Of course while all this happening traffic gets backed up and a pump circler gets his journey halted resulting in unhappy honking and in the confusion another car sneaks into the place a pump blocker wanted. This has the pump blocker crying, “No fair, that was mine!” (Last phrase edited for F’bombs.)
I, with my hands at 10 and 2 on the wheel, eyes focused on my surroundings, with a vigilant check on both the side and rearview mirrors, maintaining a speed not to exceed three miles, begin to exit the QuikTrip mindful of ambulatory challenged individuals, large profile trucks and your everyday looking at their cell phones fools. I’m triumphant when I finally navigate off of the property
In my excitement I give myself a celebratory high-five, as in two hands off the wheel high-five, and almost wreck. I blame the QuikTrip.