ISSUE 90

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 So, you’re stranded in a grocery store parking lot. This is not the time to panic. You panic, and then you’re stuck in a crosswalk—abandoned, terrified, bawling for your mother. People rev their engines and honk, as if a serial killer with a hefty axe is trailing them and you are between them and escape. MOVE, MOVE, MOVE, MOVE. I HAVE TO GET MY GODDAMN BANANAS.
 There’s no question about it. This environment will spit you out like a toddler being fed Brussel sprouts. That’ll be you, a half-chewed, stringy green thing whose only mistake in life was to suck.
 The lot is a place of gravel, sand, smokers, carts with one screwy wheel, exhaust, and birds who look like they were stuck in the car wash for a couple weeks. Basically, it’s a place you wouldn’t be surprised to find a screaming baby abandoned in a cart corral. You’d look at the baby, and think, Yeah, I can see why your parents left you.  
 Water is your primary concern. A human without water is like a geranium without water—basically, really dead. You will be a cautionary tale at first, as people toe past your corpse to get into their Subarus and explain to their children that this is what happens when you don’t believe in global warming.
 But once you are integrated into the grit of the lot, you’ll be one more flattened, furry grey thing. Were you a rabbit or some sort of dust mop? Maybe a Halloween decoration that fell out of someone’s cart, like an ogre mask or witch? Probably just some crow. Stupid crows.   Rescue will come in one of two forms: the store or your vehicle. To locate the store, find an underweight teenager in a black polo struggling to push a line of fifty carts, i.e. the one who couldn’t care less if she ran you over in her Mom’s minivan. A natural of the parking lot, this employee will be working harder than eighty percent of America for the money it takes to buy a pack of bubble gum. Though you will have to beat through a noxious cloud of angst, they will eventually lead you to the store.
​ You can also aim for the giant square on the horizon with the sign that says “Whole Foods,” “King Soopers,” or “Big Box of Babbling Bumbledoos.” It all depends how dehydrated you are. 
 How many miles you will have to travel to get there is another issue entirely. This is known as the lot mirage, and it kills more people per year than sharks, lightning, and lightning sharks. It might be a five-minute walk. It might make more sense to write a letter to your loved ones and confess you were never going to give that blender back.
 The second option is to find your car. The panic button—or the ignore-this-noise-and-hope-it-goes-away button—is available should you want to be ostracized by everyone in a fifty-mile radius.   
 If your car is still functioning on a baseball-bat-in-the-trunk or so-shitty-it’s-not-even-worth-it security, then attempt to summon your car by calling its name. Considering this does not actually work, this is a terrible strategy. It will, however, make you feel better, as if your car could be a kindly dog or a child who is lost. Oh, Green Machine! Come here, boy. I’ll get you that oil change I’ve been putting off for three years.     
 While looking for rescue, you also need to be aware of the environment around you. Most vehicles are harmless, like the Nissan Leaf, which can be frightened by vigorous arm waving or distracted by a balsamic vinaigrette. Toyota Tundras or Ford F-250s, however, are dangerous, mostly because they can only see things that are above seven feet tall, like elephants or Shaq.  
 Never approach a souped-up Dodge Durango. With the engine of an F-22 Raptor and the fuel efficiency of someone pouring gas into a sewer drain, their drivers lack the capacity for empathy. The best advice is to hide behind your cart and hope they drive into a wall.
 The most important thing in survival situations is to keep your spirits up. Remember your loved ones and all the things you can do once you escape, like working or paying your bills. You will get out. You will survive. You will get your gallon of milk into the fridge.
   
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