Friday, July 10, 2009
DAILY INCONVENIENCE (REDUX)
Remember that oh-so-friendly term “convenience store”, meaning the corner milk store, the corner drug store, the Ma and Pa joint down the street from your house where you bought your daily newspaper or a pack of smokes? Well, it’s so far from convenient now that those same places are making headaches achier and ulcers ulcier and tempers not-so-tempered. The first part of my daily routine is almost monk-like in its serene simplicity. I leave my house, typically somewhere between 6:00 and 6:30AM, get gas if needed, grab a coffee, and head to the once-upon-a-time-convenience store in order to purchase 2 newspapers and a much needed ten-pack of cigars.That's That. Should take all of a minute and a half, two minutes tops, right? No way jack. Invariably, inevitably, somehow, all-the-time, EVERYGODDAMNDAY, the people in line if front of me seem to be there for one reason: TO SLOW MY DAY DOWN. Are any of these, my fellow life-sucking consumers, in a hurry to do anything or go anywhere? Do they love the vibe of 7-11 or Quik-Mart, or Brooks, or Ma and Pa Land? Do they love the décor, the ambience, the mostly zombie-like employees who both hate their job and their customers?
These time-killers appear as a few distinct types. There is the Senior Citizen A, the type that must, under all circumstances, reach slowly for their hidden away cash, and count out EACH AND EVERY dollar, dime, and penny, making society a better place by always paying with exact change. There is Senior Citizen B, who has learned the first name of the clerk, his or her family situation, whether they route for the Yanks or the Sox, and engages them in full discourse, at great length and detail, about the possibility of rain or sunshine EVERY SINGLE DAY. There is The Great Discounter A, armed with a mountain of clipped coupons, bent and determined to enhance their lives by saving 34 cents a day, even more determined to argue the validity of each coupon till death or savings, whichever comes first. There is The Great Discounter B, with a shopping cart as weapon, filled to the brim with multiple purchases of toilet paper and dish soap, buying bulk to fulfill their dreams and keep their basement shelves stocked with the true necessities of life. Finally, there is my fave, The Gambler, grubby fingers clutching scratch cards and lottery slips, knowing way deep down inside that they’re gonna hit the big one, ever ready and diligent to make the new purchase of that one-way ticket to the American Dream, taking their time at the register for good reason—the choice between a baseball scratch card and the tic-tac-toe one could very well be the diff between dust and gold.
I used to tell my pals that went I finally decided to let the years of accumulated rage kick in I was going to scale the roof of Providence’s Hot Club like a monkey on meth and set up for a sniping spree that would truly jumpstart a Friday night. Changed my mind. Man, when I finally flip my lid, I've decided to don some proper apparel (neat photo op, after all--plus I want my mother to see me in my best light when the tabloids run the story--haveta sport at leastone of my cooler-than-cool shirts), hook myself up with some bows and arrows, stamp them with a clear image of a ticking clock, sprinkle ‘em with gas or paint thinner, torch ‘em up, and stand atop the hood my car in the corner of the CVS on Reservoir Ave in Cranston, RI and pick off every single shopper who goes in or out before 7:00 AM on a random Tuesday or Wednesday, all the while giggling hysterically like Frank Gorshin-on-acid, hypnotically watching the flames leap from the fleeing bodies onto coupon inserts, neat little piles of scratch tics and big bundles of toilet paper. That ought to send a message, right?