Some days you can't buy a story from Cosmo Kramer to turn into your own for a blog post. Other days, a simple trip to town for a 44 oz Diet Coke yields a bountiful harvest. Then Hick drops a mud cookie that has you salivating to share, and your tales back up like chocolates on a Lucy/Ethel assembly line.
My weirdo magnet was strong Sunday. It attracted no fewer than four encounters that could blossom into blog fodder with a bit of cultivation.
No sooner had I stepped into the exit door of Country Mart to pick up a few lottery tickets than a prime specimen heeded my pull. She was my only weirdo encounter of the third kind on this trip.
Let the record show that Country Mart has TWO machines that dispense scratch-off tickets. You put your bill in the slot, and poke the button of the kind you want. Kind of like buying a can of soda, if cans of soda cost $5 and came out flat and you could enclose some once a week in a letter for your son Genius away at college. I strode through the two sets of self-opening doors, and stepped immediately right, to patronize that machine first. You have to be careful at this one, because the door sensors are a bit askew, I think, and if you don't step over far enough, the doors will keep opening and closing as you stand there, attracting attention to yourself buying lottery tickets, which is something I try to avoid. The attention, that is.
Even though I know the ropes, and was standing where the doors should not have sensed me, they kept opening. And closing. About four times. Then my weirdo arrived. Perhaps she'd been hesitating just out of my sight, trying to scrounge up courage to come in. Other people besides me use the EXIT door for an entrance. They may or may not grab a cart from between those two sets of doors, and go right on past me, through the closed checkout lanes, and into the store for shopping. This weirdo did not. She stepped directly up to my shoulder, and stood there looking at me. I'm going to call her Mila. She reminded me of a former colleague. My best ol' ex-teaching buddy Mabel will know which one.
I tried not to engage. I've found that's best when trying to discourage weirdos. So I didn't make eye contact. I sensed Mila staring at me. She was tall. Thin. Close. She must have seen me come in, because she acted like this was her plan all along. No pretense of a cart. Stepped right to me.
"Excuse me, ma'am. Are you going to phk kls?"
Now she'd gone and done it. I HAD to engage.
"I'm sorry. I didn't hear that last part."
I turned to look at Mila. She was no spring chicken, but was probably a few years younger than me. She had nondescript-colored hair, long, pulled back in not quite a ponytail. Not only was she a close-talker, she was also a low-talker. What are the odds of THAT?
"Are you going to [TOWN REDACTED]?"
I couldn't help but notice that Mila was staring at my hand. My hand that held my ticket-machine-feeding money. Which I always have folded, gripped in my closed palm, so weirdos walking up to me asking close, low questions can't see it.
"No. I live in Backroads."
I had a fleeting thought to ask if I could help. After all, I was blowing money on lottery (heh, heh, I first typed lootery) tickets. However, my slaw-loving momma didn't raise no fool. Mila kept leaning in, like she was telling me a secret. As she did that, she looked over her shoulder at the two checkers who were not busy, and having a spirited discussion of their Saturday night. Mila must have been a low-hearer, too.
"I live in Backroads."
I was careful not to tell her it was out of town, and in which direction. People who give too many details are sometimes perceived as being untruthful. Hick has not yet learned this.
"Why is it that people who live in Backroads always do their grocery shopping in Backroads? I'll never get to [STREET REDACTED]!"
Off went Mila, through the unused checkouts towards the deli, perhaps looking for another mark.
That street is not that far away. Maybe four miles. Maybe less. It runs between the nursing home that we interviewed and didn't choose for my mom during her recovery from her seizure, and the furniture store operated by the mother of a former colleague, different from the one Mila looked like. I could easily have driven Mila to that area. Nothing much is there. I doubt she was planning to buy furniture. She didn't look like she lived in the nursing home. Perhaps she was meeting somebody at the gas station right beside the highway. No, it would not have been much of a chore for me to drive Mila to that street. For a moment (less than a minute) I entertained that thought, but then I channeled my Pony powers, and screamed inside my head, "NOT-HEAVEN NO!"
Sure, I could have given Mila a ride. IF I WANTED TO DIE! You can't be too sure what people are up to these days. I'll keep on living, thank you, and squandering my money as I see fit.
Why do these weirdos come up to ME?