Comedian Nick Kupsey had a very specific Delaware County Wawa store in mind when he wrote his e-book, The Five People You Meet in Wawa, but he's not telling which one, because the characters are based on real people and he'd like to be able to go back to the store someday.
What Kupsey will say is that he hopes readers of his book, the title of which is a parody of Mitch Albom's The Five People You Meet in Heaven, will allow him to take them out of their hellish existence, if just for a moment, and on a journey through Southeastern Pennsylvania's beloved convenience-store utopias.
"This book is really an updated version of Dante's Inferno masked as a book about Wawa," Kupsey said. "If life is hell, Wawa is a bit of purgatory until we get to heaven."
At just 47 pages, Kupsey's book is a shorti, but it's sold a latte of copies since being released online on Oct. 21 in Amazon's Kindle store.
Kupsey said he thought maybe 50 people would buy the book. But people are gobbler-ing it up. As of Wednesday, it was listed as the No. 1 short read in Kindle's humor and entertainment category.
The Amazon reviews don't lie.
"I've read this book 5 times in the past week. I've lost 10 pounds, won 500 in lottery scratch off's (that I bought at Wawa) AND my boyfriend just proposed. It's not a coincidence, this book has change my life," wrote an Amazon user named Joanne who titled her review "Move over Tony Robbins."
Kupsey, 39, an Upper Darby native who now lives in Chadds Ford, says he believes every region has a fanatical-like devotion to something and Wawa "is just ours."
"I can see people going to war over Wawa," he said. "If a Turkey Hill army showed up on the horizon, I could see the people of Delaware County mobilizing."
While books have been written about the history of the store, Kupsey said he was inspired to write his because "nobody has ever documented why we go in or what happens when you're in there."
Kupsey begins with Wawa parking lots, which he writes are like the cantina scene in Star Wars because they're "filled with all sorts of strange and weird people who look like demons and aliens."
According to Kupsey, who based his research on "empirical evidence obtained while visiting numerous Wawas," the five people you meet once inside are workers, weirdos, guys paying with change, police officers, and girls in pajamas. He also mentions the one type of person you're likely to find outside of any Wawa, the old men who use the trash cans as lunch tables.
While Kupsey has had many classic Wawa moments — and hoagies — when pressed for a favorite, he recalled one particular interaction he had with another customer.
"There was this guy and he turned to me and said he was a space captain in the war for intergalactic freedom," Kupsey said. "I turned and saluted him because I respect our veterans."
Kupsey said he'll use the money from his book sales to buy cigarettes and beer at Wawa, since his Wawa in Concord Township just happens to be the only one in Pennsylvania that sells booze.
Well played, Kupsey, well played.