Ahh...the universe must be looking for time-and-a-half on next week's paycheck, what with the extra hours it has put into conspiring against me.
Perhaps I mentioned that the Gas Station Chicken Store befouled my precious fountain of Diet Coke. I gave them over a week to remedy the situation, but the taste was still like Diet Pepsi or the dregs of a chicken-pen water pan. So I switched my loyal beverage patronage to Voice of the Village. All was well. I had a new routine.
Today I went to the bank for the little matter of reclaiming my debit card that was eaten by the ATM just because I drove away without touching the screen to say that I was finished and wanted it to return my card. Kind of petty for that ATM to retaliate so harshly due to my lack of caress. I pulled into the bank parking lot, careful to avoid the car coming out the entrance, because, you know, nothing is THAT simply for Val on her daily excursions. The teller inside said that sure, she could get my card back, but it would take a lot of paperwork, and two employees. Not that she wanted to make me feel guilty or anything. She did, however, exact revenge by asking to see my ID, which, of course, is my DRIVER'S LICENSE. I swear, I've had to show that hideous likeness more times this summer than in the previous seven years, when I had one that was quite fetching.
That teller was gone for a while. I'm supposed to think that it took time for the forms and the buddy system to crack open the ATM. But I think in all actuality they were yukking it up and Instagramming my bloated, misshapen, droopy-lidded countenance willy-nilly through the major social networks. Once I had my debit card and, unfortunately, my driver's license back, The Pony and I headed towards home, with a quick stop at Voice of the Village for my 44 oz. Diet Coke.
I grabbed my cup and the correct change, and joyfully exited T-Hoe and entered the establishment. I mentally patted myself on the back after making it through the door before the dude carrying his toddler daughter. They looked like soda fountain people. Slow ones. I rushed past the place where I saw that giant fruit beetle, wove past the Natural Light display, and saw two signs taped to the dispenser of happiness: OUT OF ORDER.
WTNH! Remember that? WHAT THE NOT-HEAVEN! Imagine the odds of the two mainstays of my caffeine habit going down at the same time. After two years of steadfast service. Darn you, Universe! Darn you all to heck! Can you see me shaking my fist skyward, toward the cosmos?
I turned on my rubber-soled heel, a feat made easier by the melted-ice water droplets on the red concrete floor. Back through the Natural Light display, the former beetle territory, and out the door. Foiled again! Back to the Gas Station Chicken Store. The congenial man with one tooth was clerking. He greeted me pleasantly. The owner was lurking in the back near the beer cooler. I thought of mentioning the befouled Diet Coke. But I didn't. Owner had been so discombobulated that time he poured the hot coffee water into the soda fountain and sent up a cloud of steam while I was drawing my drought that I feared he could not handle bad news of this magnitude. I clunked in a few ice cubes. And threw caution to the wind, and pushed my styrofoam cup against the lever. It LOOKED normal. Not too foamy. I slapped on a lid and paid. Once in the privacy of T-Hoe's tinted windows, I took my water-cup straw and pierced the X marking the spot. One tiny sip. It was okay!
That was a good thing. Because for the quarter-mile drive under the overpass to get to the Gas Station Chicken Store, I had been panicking about what to do. What if that soda was still Diet Pepsi-ish? Where would I go. I asked The Pony. He was not much help, not being an addict, not grasping the magnitude of the situation. "Does that liquor store have a soda fountain?" I don't know why I asked him. It's not like he could drive himself to town on the sly.
"How would I know?"
"Sorry. Some of them do. My old haircutter used to leave her teenage son money to walk to the liquor store for a soda while she was at work. Now where else could I go? Subway? Do they have Coke or Pepsi? They won't let me bring in my big cup. Are there any other gas stations? Oh! The Casey's! I can go there if I have to!"
Lucky for me, my thirst was slaked at my old pal, the Gas Station Chicken Store. It's hard placating this monkey on my back.