Saturday, February 15, 2014

Stranded at Walmart: A Tale of Ice and Woe

Note: Tuesday, February 11, 2014 was a ridiculously icy day. The following is a contemporary account of my time stranded by the ice in a strange land.

6:15: Mom texts me ten times about icy roads. My morning alarm was set for 6:30, alas.

7:30: Walking out to my car to discover it covered in a thick layer of ice. Calling my supervisor to let her know I might be late.

7:40: Still de-icing the car. Using a plastic card since I live in Texas and we never have ice. The card is ineffective.

7:50: Backing out of the driveway. The driveway is uphill and icy, but I manage to make it out. I call my supervisor again and let her know I WILL be late.

8:05: I make it to Sherwood Way after sliding down the highway at 25 mph with my flashers on, while making unexpected lane changes. I see a truck swerve haphazardly through the intersection and into the Stripes gas station. I decide that I want to LIVE.

8:07: I somehow manage to slip into the Walmart parking lot. I call my supervisor a third time, tell her that the roads are suicide, and that I am stranded and won't be coming in.

8:10: I walk inside. People are wandering around, as if in a daze. This being Walmart, many are either oilfield workers, or folks dressed in sweatpants.

8:14: Ordering breakfast at the in-store McDonald's. There aren't many patrons, but the few I see seem to be refugees like I am. Still, I do see that some people are out grocery shopping in this weather (in sweatpants)!

8:30ish: They make an announcement over the loudspeakers calling all managers. Dunno if this is routine but it seems ominous.

8:50: Phone battery about to die. Purchasing car charger. Another Walmart worker tells my cashier that a lot of their personnel have called in.

9:10: I walk to the ice cube that is my car. I keep hearing ambulance sirens. There's a small dog yapping at me from inside a nearby SUV. I get a brief charge on my phone. Grabbing iPad.

9:15: Back to McD's for a large coffee, and I see that a crowd of ice refugees has gathered there. I genuinely hope they're also stranded, and not being dumb by ignoring the ice warnings. You know, like I did.

9:20: I'm reading Facebook (thanks, free wi-fi!) and seeing all the news stories about fatal accidents related to the ice. Ye gods.

10:05: I purchase a can of de-icing solution. Possibly not good for the environment, but hey, the environment did this to me and I'm fighting back. I mention to the cheery cashier that I am stuck and she may be seeing me again.

10:30: I de-ice my car. It's cold. Damn cold. Yappy dog's owners have returned; poor little guy must be cold.

11:00 or so: I meander through the DVD's and menswear, and call my sister for a weather update. Nothing has changed. And apparently they only sell cowboy hats here.

11:40 or thereabouts: I buy an ice scraper mitt and a cheap video game. I make small talk with the same cheery cashier as before, and she recognizes me. She recommends going to either the Subway or the Chick Fil A for lunch. "You could go to Wendy's, but ehhhh," she says.

12:00: I walk down to the Stripes station where the Subway is, and buy a sandwich and some thick gloves. The parking lot isn't bad, but the sidewalks are slippery. The bathroom almost makes me lose my appetite.

12:30: Back inside Walmart. They must think I'm some homeless guy.

12:45: I wander through the sports department. I call my parents, who were sensible and stayed home. So far, all signs point to icy roads. I'm starting to get really sick of Walmart.

12:55: I start to contemplate the meaning of life, and conclude it must be sweatpants.

1:00: I get a large Coke at McD's. The manager surely recognizes me by now. I check Facebook and leave a status update asking for news. Some old lady sitting nearby is griping at her husband and is using the twangiest accent imaginable.

1:15: I hear from Facebook that the roads are a little better. My co-workers must think I'm a weenie.

1:20: Leaving Walmart. Going to try to drive home before I lose my mind.

On the highway. It seems less slick than before, although I do see several cars on the sides of the road. My teeth are chattering, and NOT because of the cold.

1:30: I make it safely back home. I collapse into a coma on my bed. I try not to dream about sweatpants.

The following Saturday: Today's high was 81 Fahrenheit. Ye gods.

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