This is a short work week. So I've been treating myself to a 44 oz. Diet Coke every evening. Sure, I put in extra ice. I don't exactly have all day to sip this magical elixir.
Monday morning, as we climbed into our bespoiled T-Hoe, I told The Pony that I had forgotten to bring a refill cup. I blame Hick. He's off all week, and I'm discombobulated by the disruption of my morning routine. Thank goodness I had such a cup rolling around in T-Hoe's rear, bestowed upon me by my mother in one of our used tabloid/old leftovers/Zyrtec coupon/five dollar exchanges.
After school, I carried that cup into the gas station chicken establishment for my refill. I rounded the back aisle and approached the beverage dispenser. Just as I was looking into that cup to make sure no creepy crawlies had made a vacation home, I noticed a flaw. A ripple of sorts. On one side, near the top inside of the stryofoam cup. That was odd. I looked on the outside. No matching curved line. I ran my finger along it. Just an optical illusion. I turned it to observe from a different angle.
THAT CUP HAD A CRACK!
Yep. That refillable cup would have disgorged its contents before I even returned to T-Hoe. I jammed it in the wastebasket and pulled a new cup out of the wall. At the counter, I made sure to tell the clerk that I had a new cup, not a refill. And the public shaming of Val commenced.
This was not the bubbly, friendly-to-every-customer-but-Val clerk who has, of late, improved to treating me as a stick of wood. No. This was the older lady of height, the dark-haired stone-face who talks to herself during each transaction. For example, "Ten dollars lottery going out, minus ten dollars scratchers, two dollars on PowerBall, and a refill. That's $3.07." At first, I thought she was just getting used to the job. Then I figured she was grandstanding for the owner, who is often working the other register alongside her. Then I chalked it up to her having some spectrum issue. Anyhoo...I put a bee in her bonnet.
I knew that my 44 oz. Diet Coke would cost more than the $1.07 refill of habit. I thought it was going to be $1.38. In my hand, I clutched a dollar bill and several coins. Stone Face was getting all antsy even before I approached the counter. A dude was scratching scratchers right there on the glass countertop, then cashing in winners for more tickets. Pardon me. That is just not done. Patrons must observe proper convenience-store etiquette. Take your scratching elsewhere, preferably off premises.
When I was my turn, Stone Face announced, "New one? That's one thirty-nine." I meant to hand her my dollar, and a quarter, a dime, and a nickel. But I had some pennies in my fist as well. I reached across the counter and dumped the silver coins into her hand, much like Tom Sawyer receiving fence-whitewashing bribes, or Beaver Cleaver counting up coins from Mrs. Mondello's sewing basket that Larry had dumped out the window with plans to say they found the money, which must have fallen out of an airline pilot's pockets.
Stone Face was not having it. She was visibly, and audibly, upset. She uttered one word. The S-word. As in, "IT" happens. Seriously. You would have thought I asked for bread with my lobster bisque. There was only a lady waiting for chicken, and a dude waiting to pay for gas. Stone Face was not happy with me. ME! Who keeps that establishment afloat! I thought we were kindred spirits. That we enjoyed a curmudgeonly bond. Like persnickety oldsters shaking a fist while being careful to maintain balance by leaning heavily on a cane, snarling through the window, "You kids get off my lawn!"
Apparently, Stone Face did not feel our bond. She reached across the counter and snatched that one dollar bill out of my fist like a magician whipping a tablecloth out from under a setting of fine china. Ahem. I had forgotten to give her the dollar. I tried to pay for my new 44 oz. Diet Coke with 40 cents.
Val stands corrected. Hopefully she is not banned for one year.