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Tuesday, 25 May
Down On The Corner

As I often do, I stopped on my way home from work at the corner store to pick up my usual bag o' health: beer, cigarettes, potato chips. (Sometimes jerky! People have told me for years that someday my metabolism would crap out, and I'd bloat up into something horrid, but I still hover at 150 pounds. Yay, my body is too poisoned and torpid to change!) The owner is a ridiculously garrulous man who has taken to greeting me loudly: "HELLO!" he screamed a while ago. "IT IS ABOUT TIME!" Hey, he loves me! I think, He counts the minutes between visits! Then someone else walked in. "HELLO!" he screamed again. "YOU ARE LIKE A ROBOT EVERY DAY!" Okay, he doesn't love me, I thought. He's just hilarious. Which is also great. He either really loves his job or merely puts up a really convincing front of enjoying the living shit out of greeting people into his ramshackle shop.

You know these places. They're sort of a hybrid of a normal grocery store and a flea market. Next to a couple lonely cans of Cream of Mushroom soup, you might find, say, a tin of shoe polish and some playing cards. Just in case, you know, a hungry grifter wandered in with scuffed loafers and a desperate need to round out a casserole recipe. Places like this have four dollar bottles of off-brand Italian dressing right next to a bin of incredibly cheap tube socks. And inevitably up front is a Lucite display case filled with complicated lighters, cigar guillotines, and butterfly knives.

Today I picked up my bunch of crap, and went to the counter, and I knew I was in trouble. There was a middle-aged lady in front of me, and she was buying lottery tickets. Lots of lottery tickets, some of the light cardboard stock ones under the counter, and some of the other ones that require keyboard entry on the giant machine by the register. Not knowing the strange incantations of all things lottery, I was instantly bored and also instantly wishing a bowel obstruction upon the woman. But she was fireproof in the way of people who do not care that they are making others wait, and she delivered a simply incredible stream of gibberish at My Great Counter Guy, who I must say handled everything with speed and aplomb. Even better, he recited her every request back to her in a harried voice, and in his haste, his accent became utterly impenetrable. So I bowed my head a little and just let the sound collage wash over me. While I had no idea what the fuck she was saying, his repetitions achieved a sort of tone poem feel.

"Okay, and now give me a dollar Lotto." (This was the only phrase I recognized from her.)

"DOLL LARDO!" the counterman sang. I shuffled my feet happily at the euphony of this.

She then examined the scratch tickets. "Three of the [unintelligible], two of the [unintelligible], and . . . one [unintelligible]."

"DIAZEPAM FUNGO BLOT WINDOW CREAM!" he howled ecstatically. He threw me an "I'm sorry, but what can I do?" glance over her shoulder, and I grinned. I could stand there for days listening to this performance.

This went on for some time, and the woman finally seemed to wrap things up. "Okay, and one of those poodle naps," she said, or something. Counterman confirmed: "BOODLEPAPS!" I desperately wanted to see what either "poodle naps" or "boodlepaps" could possibly translate to, but the sad ticket was lost in the wild sheaf of paper that had accumulated in front of the woman. She began clawing the tickets into no discernable order, and the shop guy tallied her damage: Fifty bucks.

She slid him a crisp fifty. I stared at this. Fifty bucks. Now, I'm all for people wasting their money on whatever the fuck they want--I did, after all, just get back from Vegas--but Jesus Christ. Fifty bucks on goddamn lottery tickets. I know for a good fact that my chances at the blackjack tables are a sight better than hers; hell, I know that the wife's chances at the roulette table are better than the lottery. It all of a sudden bummed me out, the whole spectacle.

She began to leave, still wrestling with the wad of unruly tickets, and the counterman said--a line I've heard before--"NO SMOKES?" He pointed amiably at the cigarette display behind him. The woman looked pained. "I don't smoke," she coldly replied, and went out the door.

I walked up to the counter, and the fellow rang up my items. "LARDO? MAYBE ICE CREEP?" He pointed to the Lotto machine and a freezer case, happily trying to upsell me. "No thanks," I said, "but I could use some Camel Lights." He plucked them out of the display case. "YEAH!" he screamed.

"Yeah," I said, "hit me."


Note: Comments are closed on old entries.

Comments

I have mentioned before that I love you, right?

Comment number: 003259   Posted by: stavrosthewonderchicken on May 25, 2004 02:08 AM from IP: 169.140.198.38

There is a lifelesson in this. If you do not smoke you can spent your money on lotterytickets, get rich and move to Vegas.

Comment number: 003260   Posted by: Jeanette on May 25, 2004 06:35 AM from IP: 80.61.187.195

All I get at my local store is Cream of Shoe Polish soup, and maybe some complicated mushrooms.

Comment number: 003261   Posted by: Frank on May 25, 2004 06:39 AM from IP: 82.76.29.3

I always wondered why convenience store and liquor store clerks have to scream all the time.

Comment number: 003262   Posted by: Tigger on May 25, 2004 07:09 AM from IP: 129.106.21.180

I don't watch television.

Comment number: 003263   Posted by: Mike on May 25, 2004 08:48 AM from IP: 64.27.149.146

What is even more troubling to me is that all of the Indian quickie mart owners down here (in Georgia) have begun adopting southern accents. Ever heard Mr. Patel say in an indian-southern accent, "Thank you for coming, y'all?"

Comment number: 003264   Posted by: myrall on May 25, 2004 09:00 AM from IP: 130.218.254.170

Stav, I am approving your funding for another year.

Comment number: 003265   Posted by: Skot on May 25, 2004 09:25 AM from IP: 140.107.123.110

Mike, I don't think that joke will ever get old.

Skot, another amazing post. I read this site before I read my e-mail at work...

JP

Comment number: 003266   Posted by: Jason on May 25, 2004 09:39 AM from IP: 206.16.5.38

CHAIREES KRABOT JUICY!

Comment number: 003267   Posted by: A Fan in Rancho Cucamonga on May 25, 2004 10:03 AM from IP: 208.29.169.21

Dammit Skot, once again you made me laugh so much I nearly coughed up that last carton of smokes.

Comment number: 003268   Posted by: DaveP on May 25, 2004 12:30 PM from IP: 208.210.144.28

Eritrean (or Ethiopean or Somalian) Mart on Olive/John with Mr. Friendly Counter Guy. I have often wished to hang out there long enough to see someone buy a copy of SLICK BEAVER or possibly ASS FANCIER in order to hear the cheerful running commentary.

Comment number: 003273   Posted by: mike on May 25, 2004 06:43 PM from IP: 216.173.212.237

I'm not a lotto player, but I think I'm going to have to get myself some boodlepaps. Sounds like it could be some interesting fun.

Comment number: 003274   Posted by: zhaf on May 25, 2004 11:08 PM from IP: 24.20.172.18

Oh ho! Look at the funny brown man trying to be like us Georgians! Ha ha! Gawrsh, myrall, you sure is a funny 'un, hycuk!

Comment number: 003279   Posted by: Rob Drimmie on May 26, 2004 05:36 AM from IP: 65.48.133.67

Oh, dear Rob Drimmie -
You misunderstand. My comment was merely there to point out that the gentleman at the counter seemed eager to dump his own heritage/accent in favor of another one. I find it odd that he would want to assimilate his speech into a pattern of speech that's associated with being notoriously racist and confrontational.

much love,
myrall

Comment number: 003283   Posted by: myrall on May 26, 2004 07:50 AM from IP: 130.218.254.170

Funding.....APPROVED!

Comment number: 003294   Posted by: stavrosthewonderchicken on May 26, 2004 10:16 PM from IP: 169.140.198.38

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