Walking the Aisles
What would you do with 41 extra hours?
Many people would devote the extra time to their family or friends. Others might catch up on e-mail, movies, or sleep.
Some would spend the entire time writing blog essays. Stay far away from those folks, they just aren’t right in the head.
But even those people seem smarter than Skyler Bartels of Des Moines, Iowa. Cow tipping must have gotten dull, because this sophomore at Drake University spent nearly two days of his spring break wandering the aisles of a nearby Wal-Mart.
Welcome to my vision of hell.
Here’s what he was going for: a week-long test of endurance that would inspire an article or book about the experience. But in between the video game playing, magazine reading, DVD watching, and snack eating, Bartels found himself so exhausted he started hallucinating.
And that’s despite the naps he took on deck chairs in the seasonal department and on toilets in the restroom.
Until the last hours, employees and other customers failed to notice he was the same guy who had been walking around for almost two days. When some of the helpful staff started looking at him oddly and asking him questions, Bartels decided that the hallucinations weren’t good enough to risk getting in trouble, so he finally exited the store.
He gave up after only 41 hours, which is still about 40 hours and 59 minutes longer than you’d find me in there.
But let's focus on the real issue behind this story.
Bartels was able to loiter for a day and a half without anyone noticing. With our public places manned by such crack security experts—or, more accurately, security experts on crack—I suspect some other things are escaping their attention:
Ambrose Bierce: America's most famous missing literary figure may have kept the mystery of his disappearance going by retiring to discount superstores across the land, where he keeps up on great literature, like Harry Potter and The Da Vinci Code, and challenges himself with SuDoku.
Guys named Ambrose just love SuDoku.
Matthew Perry: Nobody has seen or heard from the most forlorn of Friends in years. I suspect he's either cashiering at a retail store ... or loitering near one, looking to score some good stuff in the parking lot. He probably bides his time waiting for a producer to call and beg him to star in The Whole Eleven Yards.
Keep waiting, Matt.
Bin Ladin: Methinks Public Enemy Number One has been hiding in a Wal-Mart in Kentucky for about four years. He'd certainly appreciate their moral code; the chain refuses to sell the morning-after pill, magazines like Maxim and FHM, and CDs carrying a Parental Advisory label.
He'd also love their less righteous dark side: easy access to violent video games, rifles, and shotguns.
Oh yes, and guys named Usama just love SuDoku, too.