Little things can make big difference

By Helena Rodriguez: Columnist

I get lost so easily in a Wal-Mart parking lot. Sometimes I’m in and right back out of the store in a few, but when I walk out of those sliding doors, I can’t remember where I parked. Even more baffling to my friend Bernard, however, is how I can easily lose my sense of direction outdoors, yet indoors I never seem to get lost in the maze of aisles.

Now it’s true that most of the products have been kept in the same aisle in the same place for months, or even years. I read a novel in my postmodern literature class this semester, “White Noise,” by Don DeLillo, in which the lives of almost an entire neighborhood are turned upside down by something as seemingly trivial as when the local supermarket rearranges its store layout.

The supermarket has become the community gathering place and the site of many reunions. I’ve seen this happen at Wal-Mart in Portales, too.

Anyway, the supermarket has become such a big part of many peoples’ routines, and so they are thrown into a panic and confusion when they walk in and things are not where they have been for many years. Kind of like walking into your own home and finding that someone has rearranged the furniture … without your permission.

Some people don’t like to have their routines upset. I remember feeling momentarily displaced last fall when a local grocery store rearranged their aisles. I thought I was going to run in and out and was frustrated when the chips and salsa were not where they used to be. “Why couldn’t they have just left everything alone, where I know where it is?” I remember telling myself.

But sometimes, something as simple as a rearranged grocery shelf, or even a living room couch, can give you a whole new outlook on life.

Best-selling author Stephen King says in his book, “On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft,” that simply moving his writing desk from the center of his study to a corner helped him put his life into perspective.

I could use some perspective in my life too, if could just remember where I parked my car at Wal-Mart.

My poor daughter Laura knows how ruffled up I get when things are not in their place. A misplaced brush can throw my whole morning off schedule.

I’ve seen people tearing apart their houses for remote controls, eating up time in which they could have already pressed through all of the channels manually with their fingers. But we Americans like to have things in their place. We like that certainty. That mindless predictability. I don’t like having to think when I’m going into a store. I have enough trouble remembering where I parked.

In that big Wal-Mart of life though, change is a good thing, too. Once in awhile I will take a different route somewhere just to shake things up.

While I do like to have my hairbrushes in place, and my groceries, that doesn’t mean I don’t like to live dangerously and unpredictably from time to time.