Suburbanista: Food Fight in the Wegmans Parking Lot

There are battlefields in Afghanistan. In Iraq. In Ukraine. And then there is the parking lot of Wegmans.

On a day like pre-Titan Saturday at Wegmans, the threat level for severe attacks escalates to red by 8 a.m. The explosion in the cheese section was inevitable. Mandy, eavesdropping on Cheesegate while pretending to read labels on the 54 different types of imported gouda, zipped me a second text:

She hunted him down in store because he did not stop for her in crosswalk. ‘I GOT THE COPS WAITING FOR YOU OUTSIDE. I GOT YOUR LICENSE AND I HAVE SEEN YOUR FACE!’

Like black ops, Wegmans employees in their Wegmans shirts appeared out of nowhere — Mandy and I think there’s a secret door under the Mediterranean olive bar — and surrounded the 60-something accuser in her blue Chanel. They led her away to, maybe, a panic room behind the freezer cases, while the 50-year-old alleged Crosswalk Ignorer, his wife and their two teenage kids stood there, the man’s hands still gripping the handle on their cart, all four of them making “Can we go now?” faces to the employees still huddled around, as if nothing about what just happened was out of the ordinary. As if they accepted the universal truth I’ve come to accept, that we’ve all come to accept — the people who shop at Wegmans suck.

I texted Mandy back: “Get out while you can!!!”

Of course, that would mean Mandy would have to go out into the parking lot. It would not be an exaggeration to say that I’ve almost died three times in the Cherry Hill Wegmans parking lot — once after I hit the automatic button to open the back hatch on my minivan, which apparently frightened a woman walking by who retaliated by plowing her cart into me really hard; once when I was walking by a car waiting to turn into a parking space while the lady in the car behind it honked, nonstop, which inspired me to knock on her window and yell, “Stop it,” after which she turned to reach for something on the passenger seat and I ran away, figuring she was loading a crossbow; and once when I was standing in a crosswalk and a giant black Suburban decided the two of us should play a game of Frogger.

“Inside Wegmans is all sunshine and happiness and Disney when you compare it with the parking lot,” says my friend Brian, father of two, who shops there at least once a week because, as it does me, that place has him “by the balls,” what with the cheap organic ground beef, the tubs of hummus, the Wegmans brand dill pickles that are just so good. “Out there in the lot, man?” he whispers. “It’s like Lord of the Flies.”

BRIAN ISN’T EXACTLY a conscientious objector in the Wegmans parking lot. In fact, he’s more like Robin Hood. Except, well, meaner. Once he was walking to his car and saw an SUV filled with 20-somethings park in a “Parents with Children” spot. He stopped them as they stepped out of the SUV.

“Hey guys,” he shouted, really loudly, because he’s a man who believes in the great motivating power of public shaming. “It looks like you accidentally parked in the spot reserved for parents.”

“We did?”

“Yeah … see the sign? You should move.” The guys, to their credit, got back in the SUV and pulled out. But Brian wasn’t convinced. After he got in his car, he drove back around to check, and wouldn’t you know? Those guys had circled the lot like vultures and parked in the exact same spot.

Now, a normal person — one who fears the dark and inexplicable forces in humanity, like Wegmans and the people who shop at Wegmans — would have rolled his eyes and driven away. Not Brian.

“Hey guys,” he said, rolling down his window. “It looks like you accidentally parked in the spot for parents again! What are the odds?”

Another time, when the person he confronted ignored him, Brian yelled for all to hear, “You! In the red truck! Don’t worry. I’ll move your car for you. I’ll call and have it towed.” (He didn’t.) Another time, when the offender flipped him off, Brian bellowed, “So you’re just a dick?”

“Nothing drives me more insane than people being inconsiderate,” Brian explains. Because, you know, that makes sense.

Another friend, Tim, also a father of two, is even harder-core. He once accosted a solo guy who’d parked in a parents-with-kids spot. The guy, continuing to walk into the store, defended himself with this logic: “I’m fucking handicapped! That trumps people with kids.”