The interstate hordes descended upon me today as I tried to enter the gas station chicken store. I have given them my return 44 oz. Diet Coke business lately, because they have fixed the Diet-Pepsi-tasting fountain spigot. I think they're keeping that sweet little old lady away from it.
My mission was twofold. To capture the elusive Diet-Coke-tasting 44 oz. Diet Coke, and snare some chicken for tonight's supper. Hick and The Pony are going to the auction. Perhaps if he's full, Hick will not look twice at the Auction Meat. Genius left shortly before noon, declaring that he'd be back late tomorrow night. Oh, to be young and irresponsible, possessing pockets lined with Mommy's cash.
We had no sooner pulled into my very special parking spot than the multitude overtook us. Bing bang boom! Three cars whipped in. Each contained four people. They all got out! It was like a clown car convention. More and more and more people crawled out the doors and milled around in the parking lot just behind T-Hoe. The horror! The gas station chicken store is not Voice of the Village. No roomy aisles here. A green fruit beetle would feel claustrophobic in this establishment. No way was I going to shoehorn myself into that miniscule shop boasting only three aisles in order to wait in a line like an amusement park rope-and-stanchion accordion. I told The Pony I would wait until the human traffic thinned out.
I swear, it was like observing a roach motel. Customers walked in, but they didn't walk out. More and more and more. Like sweets into Augustus Gloop on the Wonka Chocolate Factory tour. We saw the clerk with one tooth having a cigarette on his break. He hustled right in behind the stampede. A lady appeared from behind the traveler's bulletin board thingy beside the store. She took a drag on her cigarette, then laid it on the seat of a square picnic table concreted into the ground. Are you getting this?
She laid her cigarette on a picnic table seat at a convenience store!
I voiced my amazement to The Pony. "Can you believe that? Let's see if she puts it back in her mouth when she comes out. Who wants to suck on a cigarette that has been laying where strangers put their butts? Besides, it's a good thing the grass isn't dried out. If the wind blows that thing off, instant forest fire."
A couple of portly females in sundresses trickled out carrying beverages and snacks. Just as I suspected. These travelers had each been making individual purchases. Not that there's anything wrong with that. I just preferred to wait in my car until the mad rush was over. The menfolk and adolescents emerged. Then the apparently unrelated smoker with a bag of chicken and a soda. She made a beeline for her cig. It was no longer on the picnic table seat. It had rolled under the table, on the gravelly faded-and-pockmarked blacktop.
She picked it up and jabbed it between her lips!
That blond puffer chick took off up the hill towards the used car lot and the can-opener factory. Like that was the most normal thing in the world, picking a lit cigarette off the ground and smoking it.
Now I know why my mom is a people-watcher.