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November 06, 2017

Philly comedian's new book commemorates Wawa culture

Is Wawa as close as Philadelphians get to heaven?

Spoofing the 2003 Mitch Albom book “The Five People You Meet in Heaven,” comedian Nick Kupsey’s “The Five People You Meet in Wawa” presents what many Philadelphians may consider a heavenly – or hellish – experience in the form of everyone’s favorite local chain.

Kupsey, a Helium alum who has taken stages throughout the city and is a frequent host at Laffcast, penned the 40-page ebook to highlight the highs, lows, frequenters, and idiosyncracies Wawa customers know all too well.

Opening with an anecdote about a daily Wawa loiterer who “bears a striking resemblance to Super Mario, that is, if Mario were out on Workman’s Comp after suffering a Princess-saving related injury,” the book delves into the characters and habits recognizable to anybody who lives locally.

Kupsey, 39, also offers a brief lesson on the history of Wawa for readers who are unfamiliar.

“What started with one store has now grown to 720 stores in six states that employ 23,000 people, all spreading the gospel of the hoagie,” he writes.

“A convenience store for people who hate to be inconvenienced, the store offers a variety of prepared foods, snacks, drinks, toilet paper, gas, and acts as sort of a Statue of Liberty in the Philly area: ‘Give me your tired, your stoned, your drunk masses.’”

Curating Kupsey’s own experiences as a Wawa frequenter himself, the book describes the five distinct types of people you’re guaranteed to see at a Wawa: the girl in pajamas, cops, workers, weirdos, and the paying-with-change guy.

He also delves into the nature of the Wawa checkout line and torture that can be a Wawa parking lot.

“The Wawa parking lot is reminiscent of the cantina scene in ‘Star Wars.’ It’s filled with all sorts of strange and weird people who look like demons and aliens, and if you steal the parking spot of a roofer you may just lose an arm,” he writes.

Kupsey told the Delaware County Times that the book, which originated as material for a lot of his stand-up sets, took only a few minutes to outline when it came to considering the Wawa characters that deserved attention.

“It’s the same kind of daily tragedy that plays out every day,” he said. “Sometimes it’s very sad, sometimes it’s funny. It’s humanity is what it really is; the spectrum of humanity in a Wawa.”

Read more on Amazon.