The View From a Walmart Bench

Posted on November 20, 2011


I was sitting on a bench in our walmart, for those of you who have been in my Walmart, it was the one by the NOT food door, right in front of the eyeglasses place.

I was waiting on Heather to buy contacts, so I was sitting there just watching the world go by.

I have set on many a Walmart benches in at many cities in probably a couple states. I’m sure I have, I just know I have been in a Walmart in just about any place I spent more than one night.  I typically end up waiting for my wife at most of them as well it seems.

I probably will not forget the bench yesterday…

An old man, I don’t know how old, I just know he was old. Weak voice, white balding head, the stooped over gait of a man who has walked for many years.

Well this old man, he just stopped and looked at me…and said ‘hi.’

I responded likewise….thinking, ‘ok, this is awkward.’ But then he came and set down beside me…..

He said that he thought he knew me. I told him that I was pretty sure he didn’t, more accurately I told him that I didn’t know him.

It didn’t seem to matter. We talked for the next twenty minutes. I think he was just a lonely old man. I felt sorry for him. We talked about a lot of stuff.

I know where he lives. I know how long he has lived there. I know where he works. I know how long he has worked there. We talked about his failed marriage. We talked about his mistakes in marriage. We talked about his regrets about his marriage. We talked about how his kid’s won’t have anything to do with him. We talked about speeding. We talked about wrecking trucks. We talked about the economy. We talked about job security. We talked about young kids who don’t take life seriously. We talked about how kid’s were the most important thing. We talked about thanksgiving. We talked about looking for the extraordinary in the mundane. We talked about the brevity of life. We talked about how looking forward from 25 life seems long. We talked about how looking back from 60’s life doesn’t seem so long.

I’m seriously not kidding. Thus my statement about him being a lonely old man.

He told me a joke. It was actually a clean joke. It wasn’t the funniest joke ever. But it was more the seriousness with which he told it that made if funny. He insisted that when I told my wife that I maintain a serious look. He insisted that it was the key to it being funny. When he started to tell me something else with a serious look on his face, I asked if it was going to be a joke, because of the look on his face….he almost died laughing.

A young(er) woman (by that I mean approx. my age) was walking in our general direction. He told me that she was looking for him. He said that it was good he was right here so that he was easy to find. When she got closer he asked her, ‘are you looking for me? you are looking for me right?’ Obviously he was just flirting with her. Not only that, he did it to EVERY last girl that walked by. I started putting my head down and covering my eyes with my hands….so that way no body would see me.

I succeeded. I look back and I don’t feel bad. I tried to witness to him. He was very much in control of the conversation. He didn’t want to talk about eternity. He was nice, he was polite…but it was obvious. But I tried.

One of the last things he said was go and give my girls a hug…..seemed like good advice coming from someone who was looking back on life.

Posted in: Family