For those of you from the east coast of the United States, especially the area around Southeastern Pennsylvania, Southern New Jersey, Delaware, and Maryland, you know what Wawa is. For those of you who don’t, it’s one of the greatest business success stories ever. And there is a certain phenomenon that occurs at the stores each day and all day.

Wawa is actually a small community, which is part of Middletown Township and Chester Heights Borough in Delaware County, Pennsylvania. However, Wawa is also the name of a privately owned convenience store/gas station chain that started in 1964 and headquartered in, you guessed it, Wawa, Pennsylvania. In actuality, the business started in 1890 as a dairy farm. Today, Wawa has over 800 stores, including Virginia and Florida.

So what’s the big deal about Wawa? It’s what some other nationally known convenience stores are not, or should be. It’s clean, efficient, great products, and “convenient.” There are other convenient stores throughout the country that are similar, such as Sheetz, Turkey Hill, and 7-Eleven, and I am sure you each have your favorite, but Wawa tops all; and it’s funny to say. Go ahead, say it? “Waaaaaa-Waaaaa.” You’re laughing already.

Here’s the phenomenon. Every time you walk into a Wawa store, it becomes, next to Disney World, the greatest place on earth. It’s an optimist’s utopia. People open the door for you, you then open the door for them, and others too. There are good morning salutations running through the store like a cool brook on a hot summer day. Smiles abound like a contagious yawn that bounces from person to person. The coffee flows, especially in the morning, and people are reaching for their cups and creamers and “excuse me” is heard throughout with an abundance of smiles.

Makes me think of the times when I was a kid and everyone would say good morning, thank you, and have a nice day. It’s as if we time-traveled back to the 1950s.

I don’t know if Wawa trains their employees to give off this aura of serenity, or they pump something into the air like casinos pumping oxygen into the casino floor so people stay awake. Maybe it’s just the people are zombielike until they get their coffee in the morning then as it flows through their veins the niceness comes out before the realization that you have to start work.

That’s the first half of the phenomenon. Now the other side of the phenomenon.

After you have poured the liquid gold into your coffee cup and paid for it, of course telling the cashier and the people behind you in line to have great day, and you put your change into the little plastic box to donate to some charity, which puts a smile on your face, you leave the greatest store ever. You then go back out and enter the vortex, the gateway to hell, otherwise known as the parking lot.

If the inside of Wawa is like Disney World, the outside of Wawa is like the Lost Town of Leer in Sudan (I looked it up on the internet and it said this is the worst place on earth. It’s on the internet so it must be true). The parking lot is simply a disaster waiting to happen. Actually, it has happened. There are no smiling faces but frowns that go down to one’s belly. Forget about hearing a good morning. They use other words to describe the morning and you.

The reason for the sudden change – parking. People are screaming that you took their parking spot, although I never see their name or any other name on the spot. People also scream that you can’t park and took two spots. Now those people should go directly to the 9th circle of hell in Dante’s Inferno. One lady, recently, allegedly was so outraged that someone took her spot she went into the store yelled at the person, came out again, took a tire iron from her car and went back in after the person! Wawa people take their parking serious.

If you accidentally park in a spot someone is waiting for, look out! The looks you get are worse than Medusa’s stone look. Those same nice people you saw in the store, you remember, the ones wishing you a blessed day, are not cursing you to hell and back. It’s like a love affair that goes from the greatest thing on earth to the nastiest.

What happened? I know it’s not Wawa per se. They have a great business and their employees are wonderful. But try getting thirty cars to park in fifteen spaces every ten minutes and you can see the problem. Now some of you out there are thinking that the new, super Wawa with the gas station has alleviated the problem. Heck no. The ratio of parking spaces to cars is still the same, but in higher numbers and add the twelve gas pumps for twenty cars, simply put, it’s pure hell.

In the end, I just park on the street and walk a few more feet. It’s still convenient and I’m outta there quicker than baseball hit by Phillies’ Bryce Harper!

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