Improv, Part I

At least once a month, for three years, I have traveled to San Jose for business. I have a routine; I am loyal to airlines, rental cars, and hotels. Little disrupts the pattern, little goes wrong.

I made a significant mistake in an online booking last June. I reserved a room for two nights in Fremont. Arriving in California at 10:30 pm, I was not happy to learn that my reservation was, in fact, made for the hotel in Fremont, NE. Nebraska.

No problem, there are hundreds of hotels in Silicon Valley. I called 12 of them from the airport parking lot – all booked. There was a major convention and I couldn’t find a single room available. It’s pushing 11 pm and I have a 7 o’clock appointment with a new client. What to do?


It’s not the Ritz: My rental, parked for the night in Milpitas.

If you have any experience traveling across the country or camping in your vehicle, you will know the answer to that question. For all the weary camping veterans who cannot find a place to park your rig, you always have an option: Walmart. I would sleep in the Walmart parking lot, drive to my favorite Marriott in the morning, and get ready in the bathroom. Problem solved.

A quick search finds one in Milpitas, CA, only 10 minutes away from the Marriott. I go in with a short list: pillow, blanket, bottled water, sleep aid. Done.

There are seven RV’s in the lot, a handful of parked cars. I’m not alone.

Makeshift Peeping Tom Protector

Makeshift Peeping Tom Protector

The parking lot is well lit. No, the parking lot is bright, like how-will-I-sleep? bright. And then there’s the issue of privacy. I lock my doors and forbid any thinking about crazed meth addicts or serial rapists (this takes A LOT of discipline and cognitive restructuring), but I do not want to wake to strange men peering in at me. I dig through my suitcase and use tomorrow’s dress, my rain coat, and other business trip supplies to cover the windows. Mission accomplished.

You might think it was a long, anxiety-ridden night. You would be wrong. I slept til dawn and awoke with a rush of adrenaline, ready to tackle the day. Arriving for work that morning, I was thrilled with the headline in my head: Consultant Greets Legal Counsel @ Corporate Headquarters after Spending Night in Walmart Parking Lot. 

Sometimes the best headlines are unplanned, unscripted. How will yours read?

6 thoughts on “Improv, Part I

  1. lamghr says:

    Hi Lori, Love your story. Next time you get caught short in Fremont area, give me a call I can do a little better than Walmart parking lot. I have a spare bed. Emma D.

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