I knew something was wrong the minute I saw one of the employees hunched over the Wawa food island. His arms pumped up and down while he scrubbed inside the walls and a squirt bottle of cleaning solution hung from his belt. It was nearly 10 p.m. and I hadn’t had a chance to eat since lunch. Unable to deny my stomach any longer, I’d come to Wawa for a ham and provolone wrap and some coffee, only to discover the unthinkable: Wawa was out of food. The food island next to the newspaper stand and mini-pharmacy was completely bare. Even the packets of Ranch dressing were gone.
When I’d circled the entire island several times to make sure I wasn’t hallucinating, the implications of what I was seeing finally sank in. Wawa out of food? What did this mean? What was my little nook in the world called Williamsburg coming to when the one sure thing a student can count on suddenly lets her down?
Wawa is the one true constant on campus. The phrase “24-7” offers a kind of solace in its meaning that not even the late hours at Swem Library can rival. It’s like the food market is saying to the citizens of Williamsburg, “Hey guys, you can count on me. I’m here for you.” After awhile, it becomes like a parent you always assume is going to be there for you, one you can take advantage of without ever feeling guilty, because that’s what love is. And just when you’ve gotten so comfortable in your assumption, you’re ambushed with the disconcerting sight of a bleached and barren display island normally inhabited by a motley selection of both health and comfort food. It’s like being shipped off to college all over again — truly alone for perhaps the first time.
Sure, there’s a made-to-order little deli right across the floor from this empty island, and sure there’s an entire rack of microwavable dinners to choose from, but I’m still let down as I leave Wawa with a hot pretzel and some mini chocolate chip cookies. Although I’m sure it’s just the hunger, I feel vulnerable and small. I think after being in such a quaint, rustic little town like this, it’s inevitable that you would start to lose touch with the impermanent state of things. Sometimes all it takes is an empty sandwich rack to bring you back to reality.
__Zoe Speas is a Confusion Corner columnist. She’d kill for some grapes and yogurt right now.__