My dad owned a clothing store on the downtown square, and it was located next to a drugstore. One day, an elderly gentleman walked through the door of my dad’s shop, stopped at the glass gift case, and said, “Coca-Cola, please.”
Daddy figured the glaucoma-wrapped man was confused and, no doubt, he thought he was next door. My dad said, “Coming right up.” He briskly walked out the back door of his store, took a few steps in the alley, and slipped through the back door of the drugstore. Moments later, he returned with a 12-ounce fountain glass of Coca-Cola. The man drank his soda while standing at the counter, looking around. When he had finished, he slapped a dime on the glass case, turned around, and walked out the door. Confusion comes in all makes and models.
The layout of chain stores is usually set---you can walk into any Walmart building and pretty much maneuver the facility from memory. When I commuted to work every day near DFW, I occasionally visited a nearby Irving Walmart during my lunch hour. My mind would play tricks on me, and I was often surprised that I didn’t recognize anyone.
One day, while shopping in Walmart at home, my mind did it again---I thought I was in Irving. Spotting a friend of mine in the produce department, I greeted her with “Wow. What are you doing in here?”
She seemed glad to see me…in a lukewarm way. “Uh…well, I needed a bell pepper and some sweet potatoes.”
“You’re a long way from home, aren’t you?”
Her smile was weak. “Hmmm. I guess. Not so far that I couldn’t have walked, though.”
The mind pranks continue. I’ve been known to shove a soiled tablecloth through the drive-thru window at a fast food joint, thinking I was at the cleaners. Once, I wandered into an establishment and asked a topless barista for hot chocolate for my six-year-old son.
This past week, my luncheon date and I agreed to meet at Cracker Barrel in Sherman. What a crowded restaurant! I had to park so far from the front door that I dreaded retracing my steps to the Louisiana border after lunch.
The Country Store is the nostalgic highlight of visiting Cracker Barrel. Eagerly, I walked through the front door, expecting to see packages of candy from my childhood---Sugar Babies, Valomilk, Baby Ruth, Bit-o-Honey, wax lips, and Luden’s Wild Cherry cough drops. Instead, my nostrils were assaulted with wafts of sweet basil.
How did I get in Olive Garden?