Pedestrian Errand to Wal-Mart in 2011 Blizzard Aftermath

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We just got back from Wal-Mart to stalk up on some groceries, a two mile trek round-trip. This is fourth day after the onset of the Blizzard of 2011, which hit Tulsa late night of January 31 and broke many records. We decided to walk to the nearest Wal-Mart because we wanted the exercise and the roads were bad enough that all the bad drivers in hurry to get home in rush-hour posed a threat to my car. We left the apartment at 15:56. The weather was 23&#176 F (-3.3&#176 C), 5 mph SSW wind, and light snow.


We dressed a little too warm for the walk there, but on the way back, it was just about right. I wore:

  • Sleeveless wicking running tee
  • Long-sleeved wicking thermal tee
  • Heavy long-sleeved sweater/tee (not really a sweater, not really a tee, somewhere heavy in between)
  • Leather winter coat with inner lining zipped in
  • Balaclava
  • Knit-wool winter cap
  • Underwear
  • Two layers of long underwear
  • Three pairs of socks
  • Boots, which I purchased just last weekend

It was easy to say that we could have drove, but that required removing snow from my car first, after which we could have walked at least half the distance to the store. We saw drivers, some with good traction but impatient of drivers with poor traction, and some with poor traction and poor skills of accelerating in slick conditions. It was obvious that people were in a hurry to get home.

The store was not as bare as I thought it was since I overheard a lady in front of the store complaining, “Everything is gone. Milk. Grapes.” Although many shelves were bare, everything, but eggs, we needed was available. Also, it was interesting to notice that all of the cheapest items were mostly gone while the more expensive items were still available. That is how I acquired some jasmine rice.

The checkout lines were very long, but moved faster than I expected. Very few check-out lanes were open. While in line, we heard the overhead announcement state that the store will close at 6PM, which was in one hour from now. When it was our turn to pay, I thanked the cashier for working. She remarked that probably many people are thankful. Further inquiring exposed that no one received any incentive to drive in to work in the horrible weather, while most of the managers did not even show up for work. Some of the checkers were not real checkers but were put on that post. I feel compelled to write Wal-Mart a letter to express my feelings of injustice for their employees in this remarkable situation.

We carefully packed everything into two backpacks and the rest was held in two plastic sacks. Before the cart was completely empty, some already asked if she could have that cart. I was definitely ready to get out of there, so much so that I was about to walk out without fully dressing.

As we walked across the slightly more than usually busy parking lot, we heard a man yell at his spouse, “Push!” as he pulled the cart over the very bumpy ice. I checked to see how much she was pushing. She barely had on hand on the cart as her other hand held her large ice coffee drink. “Push! Are you pushing?” as the cart started to tip over to one side. “No you’re not pushing.” We kept walking trying to ignore the spectacle, but I secretly wanted to learn from how this domestic dispute play out. As we were almost on the sidewalk, I could hear her yelling back at him, “…yes you were! You talk to me …this way…everyone was ….” was all I could make out.

We carefully treaded home, fortunately, in the light. The snow had stopped falling by the time we went outside, but I did not notice that until we were on the sidewalk. The temperatures dropped noticeably since early, but that was probably wind-chill because records show it was only about one degree colder than during the walk there. We held hands over the rougher parts. We arrived home sound and dry, and hungry.

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