I’m Only Following Orders
A little piece of the jigsaw of my everyday life has fallen into place once more. About a month ago the Little Chinese restaurant in the neighborhood reopened and yesterday the Dollar Store right next to it has returned to active duty. Both places were hit by a pair of teenage arsonists last August. The little intestinal orifices were caught, but I was in Pot Sticker and Won Ton withdrawal for a long time. Now, praise to heaven above, both commercial spots are open again.
Lord knows there are plenty of Dollar Stores of one flavor or another around, catering to the needs of party planners, students, and, um – me. But this particular oasis of off-brands canned goods, Mylar balloons, and remainders of the remainders on the bookshelf, was in MY neighborhood. It was my source for my “3 for a dollar” ballpoint pens.
I go through pens like they were potato chips. I tend to do my writing in spiral notebooks – then transcribe into the computer. The notebooks come from the mega-store for 19 cents each.
I compose my writings this way because it is faster for me overall. When I sit down at the ‘puter my fingers will fly across the keyboard at a brisk 5 to 6 words per minute If an idea is working for me trying to get it down by typing would allow it to fade away like a six year olds dream of being Batman.
So I need my Dollar Store. It is a literary necessity. In fact, I may dedicate my next book (If I ever finish it) to “Aisle Seven at the Dollar Tree.”
Now that both of my neighborhood touchstones have returned I am a happy geezer once more, but I’ll tell you, if those two teenage fecal deposits had torched my St. Arbucks I would have organized a posse and hunted them down.
It may be only 6:55 AM, but all of the talk about my two Shangri-las has made me hungry for a cardboard carton of Beef Lo Mein and a plastic bag filled with cheap pens. The only problem is that if I try to satisfy my needs right now I’ll get busted for B&E. The Chinese place opens at 10 and the Dollar Store at 8 AM. I need to learn to rein in my appetites.
At a few minutes before 8 I will finish my coffee and mosey across the parking lot to the Dollar Store, press my nose against the glass and chant, “Open, Open, Open,” until they unlock the front door.
Aisle Seven, Aisle Seven, Aisle Seven
I will fill my plastic basket with pens and maybe a can or two of Señor Mike’s Chili Con Carne. I might even scout the candy aisle to see if they have any Tootsie Pops.
It is now 6:59 and, dummy me, the mere mention of off-brand Chili and Tootsie Pops in the same inky breath has caused my stomach to do a Triple Axel and Body Slam my lower intestine. Maybe I’ll wait until this afternoon before I go shopping. Perhaps some oatmeal and some dry toast would be a better breakfast menu choice. Yeah, but oatmeal and dry toast has never inspired my creative soul, but, then again, neither has Pepto-Bismol and a 12-pack of Charmin.
(Cut to twenty minutes in the future)
I just reread this whole thing and I guess that I am a geezer who is easily amused and satisfied with really cheap stuff. Maybe that is why I’ve never won the lottery. God is saying to me:
“For MY sake, John, you shop at the Dollar Store for most of your needs. Why should I help you hit those winning numbers in the lottery? Really – how many cheap pens do you need? You wouldn’t know what to do if I helped you win the Big Bucks. Discount Chili and Tootsie Pops? Really now.”