...and then a totally crappy day became sort of awesome
Over the tumbling clatter of ice cubes falling into my refillable 44oz plastic cup, I heard the young convenience store clerk throw a question out into the air.
"Can I help you with anything?" she asked.
"Please don't be talking to me," I thought, my back turned to the clerk and my cup now poised under the spigot that would dispense my desired Diet Mountain Dew. "I'm having a really crappy day, and surely it would appear obvious that I'm able to meet my own needs."
To punctuate just how terribly my day had been going, tears welled up in my eyes (Seriously?) (Yes. Things feel just that blech right now). "Awesome. This is absolutely awesome," I thought as I blinked, blinked, blinked to keep the tears from dripping into my Dew.
Then I heard her again. "Can I help you with anything?"
Stabbing a straw into my cup and curving my lips into a fake smile, I whipped around to face her, ready to respond. Except she wasn't speaking to me. Up on her tiptoes to peer over the display rack of Hostess snacks and packages of sunflower seeds and peanuts ("Two for $1! Maybe a cherry pie would make me feel better...") I quickly discovered she was addressing a man at the back of the store man. A man I'd quickly glanced at a minute earlier when I'd charged into the place before rushing past him for my pop. For just a split second, I'll confess that I replayed the clerk's queries, the man's somewhat shady appearance, and his silence, then considered dropping my cup and dashing out of the store, afraid maybe he had a gun tucked into the pocket of his tan hunting coat. "Talk about a bad day turning colossally crappy," I thought.
Just then, the man responded. "Yeah, you gots any rubbers here," he yelled up from his perch in front of the beer cooler to the clerk at the front of the store. In case you're wondering, yes, he did, in fact, ask for them just like like that. Loudly, and with the 's' on got.
Suddenly, it was like the roof lifted off the top of the convenience store and sunshine poured down upon me! What was that I was just saying about having a really bad day?! With this magical moment came a few thoughts that raced through my head as I stood there, now resting against the beverage counter, sipping my drink, taking in the show that was playing out before me. They included the following:
- There are people who still refer to condoms as rubbers?? Gee, Kenickie, I'm glad you're being safe so you don't get Rizzo knocked up when yous guys is at the drive-in tonight.
- It was 2:30 p.m., on Sunday afternoon. Had he been in the early stages of something magical when his partner stopped him, asked if he had protection, then sent him shuffling off to acquire the goods that would allow him to 'acquire the goods'?
- Who actually buys condoms at a convenience store? The mark up on those anti-baby babies has to be extreme! I considered telling him there's a Walgreen's just one mile down the road, but short of having The Actual Sex with this man, I already felt too involved. Besides, he probably is one of those who willingly pays $5 for a gallon of milk when he comes to fill up his truck, too, so who am I to stop him from single-handedly (though if he was doing that, I question the need for condoms) helping our economy?
- How old do you think the packages of condoms are at convenience stores? Candy bars are full of preservatives that should easily ensure a lengthy shelf life, but I've bought some Snickers bars at this place that have tasted older than I am (whatever that might taste like). However, I'm still pretty sure they refresh the food stock far more regularly than they do the condom display. I considered telling the man I have seven Trojan Mint Sensation condoms that expired in October 2006 in my nightstand drawer (don't ask)(also, they're so old I don't even think Trojan markets that kind any longer)(also? not so mint sensationy) that were his for the taking, and my house is right up the street, but again, this would mean too much involvement. Also, I didn't want him thinking I was a lady lookin' for the Sunday afternoon lovin' (p.s. my mood is so not conducive for such a thing right now...).
With all these thoughts twisting around in my mind (twisted for my pleasure, you might say...), I heard the clerk quietly respond. "Um, there's a few back here on the wall behind the counter. You can just step back there and grab whatever you want."The Great White Rubber Hunter sauntered past me, still sipping on my drink, then past the clerk. In front of the small peg board display of trusted Trojan varieties, he paused for just a second before grabbing two boxes (three-pack varieties - apparently Kenickie had big doin's planned)("Of course I'm not bitter? Why would you think such a thing?!" said the woman with seven old condoms in her nightstand) and then tossed them on the counter before the clerk, who proceeded to quietly ring him up, accepted the tremendous amount of cash he paid for his new (maybe) rubbers, and wished him a good day.
As he walked away, I stepped up to the counter, smiled warmly and genuinely at the clerk, and said, "Just the refill, please. That'll be all today." She looked rather relieved, thanked me for my purchase, and wished me a good day.
I did rather doubt the remainder of my day would be as swell as Trojan Man's was, but I did wish I could have thanked him for brightening up a bit of it. He was already gone by the time I stepped back outside (busy, busy...or perhaps busy, busy, busy...they were three-packs, after all).
So I did the next best thing I could think of. I raised my 44oz refillable plastic Kum & Go cup to the sky and toasted him. It seemed poetic, and rather magically appropriate.
(Then I got in the minivan, turned to my right, and high-fived Seth, my inner 14 year old boy, who was all, "Heh! KUM and GO!! Kinda like that other dude did!!")