In July, I will financially be able to quit the Shell station where I work part time because that silly thing I have been paying off will be gone. I don't know if I will be able to part with it, though. Not only do I love our weird little family, but the adventures and the opportunities for learning just never quit.
For instance, tonight I learned that in certain circles, one must be very careful in how one expresses a desire for certain vegetables. Specifically green beans. It may be safest to indicate "non pharmaceutical". Without the School of Third Shift Convenience Mart Fringe Learning Program I could have wound up with a plate full of Percoset someday.
Also, there was a surprise seminar in Stereotype Confirmation and Retention. My longtime friend Russell is the only person I have known to be brave enough to say "What we have to face is, they become stereotypes because they are so often true." Lesson 54.
Our little gas station in on the edge of Horsefarmland here in Lexington. Everyone from owners to grooms stop by. I had been told that the Irish were a big part of Kentucky's horse industry, and this idea is supported by the number of brogues I hear at the counter. I don't think there's one of these fellows that I have seen going to or coming from work, all lilting politeness and charm, that I have not also seen piss drunk. Even the genteel bespectacled Mr. R, who wears shirts that have to cost a hundred bucks each. Sweet Mr. R expressed in a besotted lament once, how deeply sorry (tears in his eyes) he was that I had missed a certain race because "… sheeshe sush a laaarvelly haaaaarse."
Tonight's guest instructor was a man of about my age that I know only as Pat. A yellow cab surprised me when it swung into the parking lot in a hurry and pulled to the door instead of the pumps. No one came in. I could see the driver was turned and talking to the passenger in the back seat. I have seen Pat in a number of taxi back seats, but not with a driver waving his arms around like that. When the cabby finally came in he turned out to be introducing the lesson as an expert stereotype himself… a taxi driver named Boris who spoke with a slovak accent. It seemed that Pat was so very inebriated that he not only could not produce any carfare, but could not even manage to tell Boris where he lives. Boris wanted to use the shelter of our Shell to call the police, leaving Pat outside in the cold cold cab. Which didn't last.
Weaving and staggering in precisely the exaggerated way that mimes indicate drunkenness, Pat opened the door by leaning against it until he fell in. Gratefully he did not fall all the way down. I could not understand anything he was saying between his brogue and the thickness of his tongue. Assuming he wanted the men's room, I told him it was in the back corner of the store but he was confused that I had brought it up. "It always is, isn't it?" He stumbled off that direction, but went into the beer cave instead of the toilet. He then managed to lumber over to the counter with a 24 pack of Keystone. Boris started to reinterview him about his ability to pay for the cab and his place of residence. Pat talked to me instead of Boris. I didn't get a lot of it, but I repeated what I thought I heard.
"There isn't any money any more?"
"Nooo. Not anymore. Not any money any more."
"That's not good news."
"Nooo. S'not goodues s'tall."
In spite of this confession, he still indicated that he wanted me to find some way for him to take the beer home. The police were not coming fast enough for Boris, so he fled outside to repeat his S.O.S., leaving me with Tullaghmore Dew's legacy.
"I can't sell it to you Pat."
Sadly. "Why not?"
"Because you're already drunk."
All charm. "Aaaaah. And I luuuv ya furrreva. A'right den."
The next few minutes were a confused mess of Boris not being able to decide if he should get away from Pat or be by his side constantly and Pat getting bored and going outside to wait and then coming in to demand that they leave for home… but not being able to say where that was… and the door just opening and shutting and them going in and out a lot and the snow blowing in and me getting really cold.
I don't know what Boris told the cops but two cars showed up at once and neither of them contained the usual Officer Friendlies who stop in. The biggest policeman I ever saw emerged from the car in front. Pat and Boris saw him at the same time. Strangely, Boris looked terrified and Pat just looked very very sad. He turned his usually twinkly eyes on me, beseeching.
"Hash the worrrrld gone mad? Z'ha worrrl hash gone ashuloosely mad."
But when Police Mountain speaks, Irishmen sober.
"Hey Buddy, where do you live?"
"I gush wan go home dash my cab der."
"TELL THE MAN WHERE YOU LIVE SO HE CAN TAKE YOU HOME."
And the address came tumbling out. The other more regular sized policeman found Pat's wallet and ID in the back of the cab. Police Mountain seemed more annoyed with Boris than Pat. Stereptype 3- Big Policeman with a big sympathetic heart. Then suddenly I was alone and they were just three sets of tire tracks in fresh fallen snow.
So you can see why I am reluctant to tender my notice. If I were to leave this constantly edifying source of adventure and entertainment, I would prove Stereotype 4. Overworked Middle Aged White Woman- Ashuloosely Mad.