Except for those 5 minutes.
I had been walking around the bathroom section looking for a cabinet I’d seen online. Linda, who was just along for the ride, was getting bored and impatient.
“Hurry up Mom. It must not be here.”
“It’s here somewhere,” I said, as I wandered around, up and down every aisle that contained anything resembling a cabinet. Linda followed me like a baby duck trailing her mother. With her nose in her iPhone.
Then we heard some kind of ruckus coming from the front of the store. It sounded like they were filming the Jerry Springer show in the paint section.
Hey… this could be fun, I thought.
Except a Lowes' employee ran up to us and said, “Go to the back of the store! Find a hiding place.”
I looked at him dully, “What?”
He said, “RUN! NOW! Find a safe hiding place. Go as far back in the store as you can get.”
We took off running. We ran into the Netherlands of Lowes. Where ordinary customers aren’t allowed. Just the special ones who were told to go hide.
It was exciting. We were hiding in Lowes!
That is until I overheard another customer, who was hiding near us dial 9-1-1. She whispered urgently into her phone, “We are in Lowes and somebody’s got a gun.”
That was news to me.
Somebody had a gun. OMG.
The rational Lou thought that it was probably nothing.
But then I remembered Sandy Hook Elementary School. And that movie theatre in Aurora, Colorado. And Virginia Tech.
Linda had been about 10 feet from me. I motioned her to come over by me. I put my arms around her and we tried to make ourselves invisible.
But we were like fish in a barrel. Our hiding place stunk. We should have stayed in the bathroom section. There were way better hiding places there.
After what seemed to be an hour, but was only 5 minutes, the other hiding customers waved us out. We hesitantly walked back into the retail area.
The store seemed completely normal. It was surreal. Customers were looking at floor tiles. And toilets.
I walked up to an employee and said, “Um, what just happened?” He said, “I’m not sure.” So I said, “Can you help me find a cabinet I saw online?”
But I was way too wound up to purchase it. We decided to leave the store.
Police cars were lined up in front of the store when we left. Two officers were talking to the store manager. We heard bits and pieces of the story. Something about a fight breaking out and an overdose of testosterone.
“Was there a gun?” asked one police officer. “Oh, no,” said the manager. “There was no gun.”
Over the past few nights I have had nightmares about those 5 minutes. And I’ve come up with all kinds of hiding places just in case history repeats itself. In a kitchen cabinet. Behind the lumber. In a trash can.
My safe, suburban life has returned to normal.
But those 5 minutes?