4:32 p.m. It’s June 17th and I’m sitting in the passenger seat of the car– the first day of our trip. After being on the road we arrive at the first Walmart in Bakersfield CA, strangely enough, we’re not able to enter the building. We spend a good amount of time logging things into the sketch book (it didn’t seem so important to me). We’re creating a budget starting with $1200, we log things like gas and decide on food for the night. (Maybe it is important) Splitting 1200 dollars for 33 days and accounting for gas purchases, food, and emergency hotel stays for two people might be a stretch– we’ll be fine. I’m just not necessarily worried about those things. I’m concerned with what we’re going to do in the store, our mission — I’ll focus on logistics later.
When we arrive I spring out of the car, beginning to head into the store, ready to stretch my legs. Joshua looks over the car to me and states with a bit of uncertainty–repeating, “I think I’m just going to take pictures in this first store…”
“Oh yeah! Let me get our sketch book, I was planning to jot down a few things in it.” I see Josh has it in his hand, my speech races, willing, “Oh! Did you need the sketch book, If you have to use it-”
“I could,” Josh stopped me, saying in a state of confusion and hesitation, looking up at me.
“Right, you said you were going to take pictures not draw pictures.”
Joshua calmly states, ”I wanted to make sure whatever you write is in this book.”
I exhale to slow myself, maybe he grabbed it for me..? “Cool, thanks,”
I point out that an all employee meeting must have just gotten out, there are about thirty employees walking our way, from the building. Joshua shouts out to ask them what’s going on. A woman from the group comes closer to us and Joshua repeats his question. She responds, “Everyone has to evacuate the building.”
“I know, but I can’t tell you,” she responds
“Do you at least know about how long until people can re-enter the building?”
“Maybe about fifteen minutes.”
We sit back in the car.
I look at Joshua, thinking, I don’t know, “so I guess we wait?”
“We will wait thirty minutes and if we still can not enter we’ll head to the next location, because we got places to be.”
“You gotta have dedication, Josh!” I say jokingly.
“We could wait here till tomorrow,” he replies
“Shoot,” I say with an exhale while shaking my head no.
While sitting in the car Josh and I decide on a procedure, a duration of time to be in the store– 30 minutes. This is short but it’s a process, we concentrate on a specific series of task as we develop more specifics; it seems like an efficient way to spend our time. I don’t understand the focus quite yet, so it feels like a lot of undirected time– Josh insist that I spend this time really seeing, collecting and making note on the things I objectively experience. Right now, the constant is the operation of photographing and the time restraint, the variables are the people, geographic location, and what we experience in response to our objective approach. What remains is the unknown of how or what might affect us, whether it be one tiny shirt or the intricacy of pattern and design which we are hoping to see by moving from store to store. Joshua and I continue to talk for about forty five minutes before we even think to look back at the clock. The topic of conversation was mainly over what we should get to eat when we go into the next store. I never thought it could be so hard to decide on such little things. I think what made it difficult was that Josh did not want me to be angry over what he decided to get, and because we both are compromising people it seemed that I was not giving him much input, plus the items I chose were already agreed upon: apples, peanut butter, and bread– If we have those I’m fine and I know I will be able to mix up taste from whatever he wants to eat or snack on. while Joshua finished the log I was looking out of the car relaxing, I guess being patient. I’m not going to lose hope that things will start to be a lot smoother after we have made similar decisions or worked through a few obstacles together.
Once we realized that we had been here so long and had come to make a few decisions another group of people, who must have worked at walmart, walked near us ,probably wondering, I don’t see why an average shopper would wait around so long outside on a hot sunny day to enter a store. We ask them if they know when we’ll be able to go into the store. One of them immediately responds, “in five hours,”
“Okay let’s get out of here,” Josh and I both agree. Then we take a few pictures outside of the building, that’s all we can see. On our way back to the highway we stop by a gas station near the store and ask the clerk if he knows what happened. He says, “There was a bomb threat.”
“Wow! Really? Did you hear it on the radio?” I ask, gesturing toward a speaker where I heard music coming from.
“No, one of the people who works there told me.”
First Walmart, we get a bomb threat and don’t get to enter.