What They Don’t Sell At The Flying J
by Gina Valley
Yesterday I decided it would be a great idea to herd my pack into our van and drive 3 hours to visit my great, great uncle and aunt. It seemed like such a simple thing to what I now realize was my clouded mind. About half way there we stopped at a Flying J Truck stop. Or, as my kids call it “the big bathrooms with the candy store.”
I’m sure you’ve seen one – giant mega-gas stations on steroids glowing along lonely stretches of highway in the middle of nowhere. Part fast food place, part mini-mall, and part bath house.
The Flying J is a strange little microcosm of our great, big world. One can browse rows of magazines and leather-wear on the way to pick up a pizza while listening to an announcement that “Shower 5 is now ready. Please proceed to the shower.”
Over the years and through many family road trips I had formed the opinion that the trusty Flying J truly sells a bit of everything. I found out yesterday, not so.
So, what does the Flying J NOT sell. Well, at this particular location, about 10 miles south of the middle of nowhere, it does not sell foot apparel of any kind. No shoes. No sandals. No crocs. No boots. No flip flops. Not even a single pair of slippers or shower shoes. No foot adornment of any kind.
Perhaps you wonder why this fact is significant.
Is it because I’m attempting to placate what many of you know is my pretty serious shoe addiction? No.
Could it have been an attempt on my part to re-stock my gift closet with more biker related items before the holidays? No.
Was I simply curious about the average truck driver’s shodding of choice? No.
Well, it seems that my 10 year old son was working very hard to follow the rules, and as so often happens, that completely backfired and came back to bite us on the rear.
He announced, about an hour and a half into our little jaunt toward redneck land, that he had his brand new shoes securely on his feet when he got into the van to leave, and during the visual shoe check by the shoe officer of the day (Son#1 had that honor yesterday).
But, Son#4 had forgotten his pillow and had dashed back into our house to get it. He made a point of telling me, “like you always tell me to, mom, I took them off before I went in” (we leave our shoes outside to limit the dirt we accumulate in our house. It’s still gets filthy. I hate to imagine how dirty it would be if we left them on. We might not be able to find the furniture!).
In his haste to return to our van Son#4 forgot his shoes. That’s right – ran right past them and out to our van without noticing his lack of shoes. Apparently, no one else noticed either (I was still in the house turning off the 43 different lights that were left on, so I feel I’m off the hook for not noticing his stocking feet).
Naturally, like any good mother, upon hearing his announcement I fired up my smart phone to track the closest shoe retailer (yes, there’s an app for that).
There wasn’t a Target for hundreds of miles. There wasn’t even a WalMart on the radar, and they’re everywhere! I’d been thrilled to spot this Flying J nearby. Yet, here I was at the only possible retailer for at least 100 miles in any direction, and they had no shoes. What to do?
No problem. Great, great uncle and aunt are 91 and 90. They can’t see that well. Although they would be horrified to know my kid had traveled with no shoes, they didn’t necessarily
have to find out. It occurred to me that through creative shoe shuffling and staggered entrances, we might be able to get the entire pack into their house without the shoe deficiency ever being detected.
So, as we pulled up to their sprawling home Son#4 jumped out of our van looking a bit like a clown wearing Son#2’s shoes (the largest shoes in our family), and Son#2 had on Son#1’s. After they had greeted great, great uncle, they went into the house to greet great, great aunt, leaving, as is our custom, their shoes on the porch. In the meantime all three of their sisters emerged from the van and distracted great, great uncle while I ran Son#1’s shoes back out to him.
The house was packed with family, but we managed to get everyone in without anyone noticing our deficit of shoes. Each time we needed to go outside we simply repeated the shoe shuffle until everyone had taken part. It worked fine. No one had to know. We were off the hook.
Before we knew it, the day had passed, and it was time to go home.
As we began the shoe shuffle to head back out to the van I marveled at our successful shoe issues cover up. It was fun. It was successful. It was over.
Naturally, it was the offending kid himself who sold us out.
As Son#4 was heading out the door to the van, great, great aunt said, “I hope the drive home isn’t too bad.”
Son#4 answered immediately, “Well, it’ll be a lot shorter because we won’t have to stop to try to buy me shoes to wear!”
Too bad great, great aunt’s hearing is perfect!
Laugh Out Loud!
What was left at home during your last family trip? I’d love to hear all about it, so please shoot me a comment.