Val has had many unique adventures here in Backroads. Many unique adventures involving fellow customers at establishments she frequents. Indeed. She has been caressed by a woman in Save A Lot. Had her buttocks molested by a geezer's arm in the dead-mouse-smelling post office. Was propositioned by a ZZ-Top-bearded, Daisy-Dukes-wearing man of questionable oral hygiene on the parking lot of Walmart. Had a roll of cash thrust at her by a friendly, generous, inattentive man while boxing her groceries at Save-A-Lot. Suffered verbal overfamiliarity from a dude who yelled, "That's ever man's dream!" when she asked for two breasts and two thighs at the gas station chicken store.
And it's the gas station chicken store that calls us back today. The scene of the latest indignity to befall our heroine, Val of Backroads.
Perhaps I've mentioned that I do not have a fondness for other people's children. Unless I am responsible for them in a supervisorly educational role, I have no interest in them. Seen and not heard. There's a reason for that idiom. It was not coined by idiots. I would like to coin my own idiom. "Children should be left outside in a well-ventilated car with proper adult supervision, and not brought into convenience stores." Not quite so catchy as "seen and not heard." But quite as serviceable.
I had stopped in for a 44 oz. Diet Coke and a scratch-off ticket. Yes, I DID win, as a matter of fact. Fifty dollars on a ten dollar ticket. But I didn't know that until later. Because, you see, I was fighting for my life against an eight-year-old girl in the gas station chicken store. Or at least for my hide.
A man was already at the Coke machine. He looked at it, and moved on down the counter towards the back cooler, to the coffee machine. Had he asked, I might have suggested something stiffer. But Val is not one to give unsolicited advice to strangers in convenience stores. That guy had three little girls with him. They all called him Daddy. Stair steps, they were. I'm guessing 8, 7, 6, though I am not well-versed in the sizes and cognitive skills of youngsters much under the age of 12.
The girlies swarmed around those three aisles like a working drug-sniffing canine, an ant checking out a dessert buffet, and a goldfish in a just-tapped aquarium. DaddyO seemed a bit frazzled. Eight suddenly appeared to my left, at the section where one orders gas station chicken, though the kitchen was closed, it being only 10:00 a.m. She eyed the plastic-lid-covered tray of donuts. "I never saw a donut for only eighty-nine cents, Daddy." He sighed and pressed the lid onto his coffee. "Well, then, you must not have been in many convenience stores." The other girlies swarmed him and grabbed his legs, asking for assorted treats. I moved on to the counter with my refill.
A new clerk was training. Her minder left her to go in the kitchen, perhaps to drop a batch of chicken. The characteristic aroma did not yet permeate the store. Trainee was slow. She had to look up the price of a refill. She had trouble tearing my scratcher ticket off the roll. DaddyO and his brood were behind me. And beside me. I daresay I'm lucky they were not up in my buttocks like that post office geezer's arm.
The minder came out to the other register. "Can I help you over here?" DaddyO stepped up. That, to his litter, was an invitation to belly up to the short counter. As if they, too, were paying customers. DaddyO had caved, and was buying them a bag of chips to share. "Five dollars for a bag of chips?" The minder was not helping the situation. I'm thinking his total was five dollars, not just the chips. But that is neither here nor there, because Eight was HERE. Right under my left armpit. Jostling me. Bumping me. Stabbing me with her youthful elbow that had not yet acquired a cushion of fat to soften the jab of skin-over-bone. I moved away. She followed, as though attached by a safety chain.
Twice more she jabbed me. Then she commenced to scratching her angular elbow. AND SCRAPED SEVERAL FINGERNAILS WORTH OF SKIN OFF MY PLUSH OLD-LADY ARM! I've endured less damaging swipes from my ungrateful garage-peeing cats.
There needs to be a law. Like...kids under 16 must be carried through stores by their parents. That would be much safer for victims like me. What if some mishap were to befall that child over the next 24-48 hours, and Val's skin cells were found under her fingernails? I could be framed for ne'er-do-well-ness!
Yeah. There oughta be a law.