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Monday, August 1, 2011

Walton's Moving Castle

Yesterday was my daughter’s fourth birthday. Because she was born right after Independence Day we find ourselves double planning her birthday; one for the weekend, which usually involves a cookout of some sort and one for her actual birth date.

This year, her birthday fell on a Tuesday, so we asked her what she wanted for dinner on her birthday. She said pancakes. Funny kid. I was fine with this and asked if she wanted to go to Bob Evans. She said she wanted to go to the ‘other’ pancake place. At first, I wasn’t sure what she was talking about. She doesn’t exactly have all the skills of reading under her belt, but she can identify a place by the signage. For instance, she calls McDonald’s, Old McDonald’s and Dairy Queen, Women’s. So, when she says the ‘Other Pancake Place’ she can only mean IHOP.

We’ve only taken her to IHOP three times in her life, but it has made an impression on her. In fact, we only get to go maybe once a year because it’s on our way to the beach. We usually stop off at one around Fredericksburg, VA, off of I-95. The closest IHOP to our house is 45 minutes away in Uniontown or Robinson Township.

My wife and I have been lobbying for one to be put in Irwin for years. They bulldozed a local restaurant/bar/six pack shop called Angelo’s a few years back and while we hoped against hope for an IHOP, they built a Howard Hanna office, instead. This was right after the housing bubble had collapsed and baffled me.

Still, I was up for driving 45 minutes for some Butter Pecan syrup and after all, it was my kid’s birthday. Why not?

Now, my wife asked me if I knew how to get to the one in Uniontown. I said, “Sure, it’s right next to Walmart.” Growing up, I had gone to that shopping plaza off of Mcclellandtown Rd. a number of times. There was an Italian Oven right off the highway and across from it was Cherry Tree Square and the Walmart. Of course, I hadn’t been there in about 20 years but still, how hard is it to remember how to get there? And besides, it’s Walmart. Can’t be hard to find.

After driving 45 minutes, I finally reached the shopping plaza and could not find Walmart. It was baffling to me. I could already see the steam rising off my wife’s ears because we have been under the gun to get the house in order for the cook out party, this Saturday. Wasting an evening, driving around Fayette Nam was not her idea of fun, especially with the ninjas out there sneaking around.

I decided to stop into Kmart and ask where the IHOP was. I felt bad asking a Kmart employee where the Walmart was. She said, go back out here, make a right, go up and make another right. I said, “Right by the Walmart.” She said, “Yes.”

See, I knew it was there.

After a couple of wrong turns and a detour around the Uniontown Mall parking lot, we finally found Walmart. It looked nothing like I remembered. Granted, my memory isn’t what it used to be, but honestly, how hard is it to find a Walmart in Fayette County. There should be huge neon signs with spot lights and wacky waving arm inflatable tube men pointing the way. It’s like Mecca. Yet, this store sat out in a field like Beaver Stadium at Penn State’s Campus. Imagine a huge stadium rising out of a cow field where you literally walk off of the pasture and onto the concrete steps. Same thing here. It was like Field of Rollbacks. If you build it and sell cheap Chinese manufactured products, they will come.

My wife was all, “See, you had no idea where it was.”

I told her, “It was right next to the Walmart, like I said.”

“But you didn’t know where the Walmart was.” She shouted back.

“Honestly, it was not here last time I came up here. They must have moved it.”

I know how dumb that sounded but honestly, they have done that. The Greensburg Walmart got torn down years ago and they moved it further down Route 30 East. In its place they put a Sam’s Club. It was possible.

Once we got inside, I asked the server if I was nuts. Turns out, they moved the Walmart about a year ago, according to our server. “See! I’m not nuts. They moved it. How the hell could I have known that? It just happened.”

In any case, I got my Butter Pecan syrup, my kid got her pancakes and she ate for free because it was Tuesday because she was under 12 and it was between 4-8pm. And, yes, they did move the Walmart. Huzzah!

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