Vaguely Feel
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Vaguely Feel

I Stayed At A Hotel Across The Street From a Mall and Whole Foods

This is a representative Whole Foods, not the actual Whole Foods I visited

Update: Read Part 2 here.

You don’t realize how big parking lots are until they’re empty.

And then if you stand at the very back, the farthest from your destination, they’re really large.

Especially ones at huge shopping centers. Or a mall.

I walked across an empty parking lot last week. Twice, actually.

I was traveling for work and stayed at a 3-star suburban business hotel that was across the street* from a mall.

*Across the street is weird in this case, b/c it was a fairly large interstate-type road with a concrete wall down the middle for part of it. So I couldn’t cross where I really wanted to cross and had to walk down to the next accessible crosswalk, across 6 lanes of traffic.

Night 1

I walked down from my hotel, and walked to the mall. Well, sort of. The first night I was there, I walked to the Whole Foods located next to the mall, which shared the mall parking lot.

The Whole Foods wasn’t as close as I thought and I began walking there at 9:40pm, only to realize it closed at 10pm.

I made it though and I started shoveling cold stuff from the buffet into one of those cardboard containers because I was starving.

I probably would have received all the stuff from the buffet for free if I would have waited like 10 minutes until they closed and then asked for it as they put it in the dumpster.

But I’m in my 30s now and don’t dumpster dive like I used to.

I also grabbed like 2 apples and Bark Thins™® because, hey, end cap.

I don’t go to Whole Foods much and I mangled the box I put the food in. Like it wouldn’t close.

I have problems with buttons and flaps and aligning my jacket zippers so this wasn’t a surprise that I somehow messed this up.

The nice cashier who really wanted to leave rubber-banded my box together for me.

That was good enough.

I left and started my trek across the parking lot. There was no one there, not even the employee cars.

This is when I discovered the closer route to my hotel was blocked by a concrete wall separating the lanes and had to walk farther down to cross.

I made it. I went back into my hotel and sat on the sterile, plastic-coated couch and watched the end of a movie I had seen a few times.

I ate my sliced chicken, salad and blueberries and some potato thing.

I was reading this book while traveling and staying next to the mall:

Night 2

A friend of mine who also travels to this particular place also stays at this hotel next to the Whole Foods and the mall.

He also recommended this hotel because of the movie theater.

So about 20 minutes before the movie started, I walked to the mall.

I walked across the street, crossed at the appropriate crosswalk and then faced the huge, empty parking lot again.

I went left, away from the Whole Foods.

I walked past a P.F. Changs. I saw glittering signs for a store called Chico.

I found a door and walked in, and suddenly I was faced with Zale’s.

Many years ago I bought my wedding ring at a Zale’s at a different mall in an entirely different state, mainly because I didn’t know what I was doing — both buying wedding ring and getting married.

I walked past Zale’s.

I was then hit with the image of a few different yet recognizable stores, but I cannot adequately recall them for you here. That’s how familiar, yet unremarkable they were.

The Lego store was huge, however.

But no signs for a movie theater. I looked at one of those “YOU ARE HERE” maps.

It showed me where I was. And it showed me where the movie theater was.

Detached from the mall, in yet another parking lot, behind the Whole Foods.

When two parking lots diverged, I chose the left one and that made all the difference.

I had made a huge circle back to the Whole Foods.

I walked into the movie theater. It was now time for my movie to start.

But a huge line. On a Tuesday night.

It was $5 movie night. Yes, I was lucky.

All I had to do was stand in line.

But it was 20 people deep and one person working the register.

“You can go to Guest Services inside!” she announces over a microphone thing.

A few of us duck under the rope, open the main door to the theater and turn towards guest services. No one is there.

Huh…but guess what I see?

Literally right next door to guest services is the door for my movie. It’s not down a hallway or behind another usher.

There. It. Is.

Moment of truth — should I stay or go? The movie is starting and this is their fault, right?

I walk in and it’s the nicest movie theater I’ve ever been to.

There are only 35 seats.

Each are leather recliners. You can adjust and situate them however you’d like.

Big, nice cupholders.

And assigned seating. Uh-oh.

But there are only 4 other people in there.

I’d be fine.

But I couldn’t — you know — ethics, stealing, my Christian faith, WWJD, etc.

It was still the previews.

I went back outside. Someone was there from guest services. I bought my ticket. And yes, it was only $5.


It was a good movie. I’m glad I went. And I walked back across the parking lot at the end of it, around the same time I had walked back from Whole Foods the night before.

The Whole Foods actually has a garage in the back (that’s where the employees park!).

I hopped over some weird embankments. Some medians with flood lights illuminating the parking lot.

The lines in parking lots seem infinite. But perpendicular?

Infinitely perpendicular. Crossed over one another, next door to nothing, on top of everything.

I’m Josh Spilker and I wrote a book about God, tacos, empty malls, food trucks and mini-golf called Taco Jehovah. You can get it here.




essays and whatev

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Josh Spilker

Josh Spilker

Writer, Marketer, & Content Strategist for startups. Get my content playbook:

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