Q – “What do lemons wear in the rain?”
A – “Yellow jackets.”
As I left work, the skies finally opened, and rain fell. The wind noticed and opted to blast the rain sideways. I lost interest in going to the store, even though the idea of watching meandering mobs of discerning consumers arbitrarily observe the new social norms interested me, much in the same way that it’s difficult to close one’s ears to titillating gossip.
Because I’m an adventurous guy, I stopped at the gas station, a place seldom associated with adventure – at least not the kind people pay to see. The universe continues to remind me that cars need gas to remain operational. I’m smart that way. It took 30 years, but wisdom finds us at our own incremental and obstinate pace. Remember that when you watch the younger generation do new versions of the same stupidity you and I once did. Note: yes, you did some foolish nonsense when you were younger: we all did.
I went inside and chose a gas additive, and approached the register as a couple of very young Latina girls danced around the edge of the register. Their mom tried and failed to herd them toward the door to leave. The young male customer in front of me was asking a series of specific questions about his food. The clerk had an exciting look of “wtf” and “no clue whatsoever” on his face. Knowing that my superpower of supreme bullshi%%ery would be useful, I leaned in and said, “First, go with the turkey if you aren’t sure. Take a packet of mayo, bbq sauce, tartar sauce, hot sauce, and mustard and try a nibble of each with a bite of the sandwich.” The picky customer looked at me directly, even as I told myself not to smile or frown. I just nodded. “Well, thanks! That’s a great idea.” The customer picked up his sandwich and went to the condiment container to obtain one of each.
The clerk leaned over and softly said, “Thanks. He does that often.” I laughed. “The joke’s on him. I don’t think it matters what I said. I think he just wanted a voice of confidence to recommend something.” The clerk laughed. “Noted!” as he tapped his right temple. “But you should recommend something crazy next time to test the theory,” I quickly added. We both laughed.
I paid for my additive after asking the clerk where they keep the flavored gas additives. I also bought a lottery ticket. “Keep the change,” I told the clerk. “Thanks, that is nice of you.” I turned and said, “You’re welcome. I didn’t know you could take tips here.” The clerk nodded.
As I pushed open the door, I returned to the register and put a $10 bill on the register. “You can keep this. Buy yourself something nice!” He looked at me, quizzically and smiling. “Really?” Thanks!” I nodded. “Let’s test to see if karma will give my lottery ticket a boost. If I win the lottery, I’ll give you $1000 if I win 100K and 100k of it if I win it all. No BS.” The clerk waved goodbye as I walked out. I think he would be stunned to know that I meant it when I said it.
In my attempt to avoid getting soaked at the store, I ended up standing under a massive overhang as I pumped the gas, and the wind howled and brought the rain almost horizontally under the roof. I got soaked in the process. While the gas pumped, I could see the young man with the sandwich. He sat in a booth by the long row of glass windows. In front of him was a variety of packets. For those of you who don’t know, I often eat food similarly, with ten different spices and sauces scattered around me.
I gave someone permission to enjoy their lunch. There’s a high probability that they’ll love a condiment they’ve never tried before.
I surprised a total stranger with an unexpected gift.
And I got soaked. But the small moment of this afternoon was worthwhile, even though it will never be listed in the accounting of our lives.