This is neither an introduction to nor the proper forum for a debate on the evils of the omnipotent, all-consuming, conglomerate grocery chain; that's what Fox News is for. Here, I get to distort my own facts through the squeaky clean lens of warped self-perception.
Like a 24-hour Death Star, shoppers are drawn through those automatic doors for myriad reasons. Some go for savings, others go for convenience or familiarity, while some go to hang out with the Greeter Lady.
Me … I go for the people.
Where else can one witness such a car-crash of humanity? It's the only place where a leotard-wearing ballerina, a tattooed mechanic, a preacher in gold-rimmed glasses and a sneezing columnist scribbling in his notebook can all be found standing in the same express lane — each looking down their noses at the other.
I'm extra lucky because my Wal-Mart also has a McDonald's, with the tables facing out toward the hordes of shoppers pushing buggies through the clogged arteries of the store, totally oblivious to my peeping. It's like a people aquarium, minus the water and dirty glass.
But such loitering also opens the door for some unexpected experiences.
I've been witnessed to by a couple of well-intentioned Mormons who didn't seem to notice that I was scarfing down my Filet O'Fish in an obvious hurry. I've watched helplessly as one of the stock boys got shot down by a lovely cashier only to suffer the added humiliation of hanging around until his order was slapped on a tray.
But what happened Monday morning was by far the most bizarre.
With plastic bags filled with cold medicine and gnawing on a cough drop, I shuffled up to the counter, trying to ignore not only the urge to sneeze but a very heated debate between a cashier and a customer.
Suddenly, I heard the woman to my right bellow, "… ask this man, he looks like he knows what I'm talking about."
Honestly, I didn't. Nor did I care. But if this tiny indignity was what stood between me and an Egg McMuffin, I was willing to suffer through it.
Turns out they were talking about spanking children in public — not beating, put popping backsides and swatting hands.
It's a touchy subject, and I told them as much. But that's especially true in public, where the same people who raise their eyebrows for bottom-spanking are the ones who roll their eyes when your kid starts squealing.
It's a no-win situation. But I'm more likely to banish Jellybean to Time Out or confiscate The Diva's cell phone than anything else.
That's not to say that if I caught Jellybean trying to kiss a wood-chipper that I wouldn't overreact, or that I haven't thought about hanging The Diva up by her pinky toes, but physical punishment — be it with a wooden spoon or hickory switches — is something I'm not terribly comfortable with.
Turns out the ladies were on my side.
But I got my McMuffin to go just the same.