They Are High And Happy

They Are High And Happy

I craved a diet soda. More accurately, I wanted the pound of small crushed ice that would accompany it. Entering the inconvenience store, I noted that the bananas did not look like they’d been there for six weeks, so I grabbed one. The clerk, one I’ve spoken to before, is one I think of as “Mr. Mumbles” in my head. He sounds like my dad talking after drinking a bottle of Old Charter.

“It’s crackhead central here,” he said, pointing to the multiple people crowded around the ‘entertainment’ row of casino-like machines nestled in a line in the front. These machines cause a lot of consternation for people. Some stores have run into trouble legally because of the way they are actually used versus how they supposedly work. In Monroe years ago, a small store where my mom lived made a fortune using them illegally as casino substitutes. It’s easy to do. I’m not saying this particular store operates that way. I’ll leave my observations aside. People are going to gamble and stores will find a way to provide an outlet. Vice invariably equals profit.

“I wondered why it was so busy in the parking lot,” I replied. (When I drove up, there was an inordinate number of vehicles even for 1:30 a.m. A couple of them looked like the ‘after’ picture from an insurance claim.)

“They got their government money. So, they are going to spend it. They’re high and they’re happy.” He didn’t say it out of spite, although he did go on to add a few comments. His opinions were based on his experiences, so it’s a fine line calling him out.

I didn’t know how to appropriately reply because it wasn’t in me to judge them. Or him, for saying what obviously was true. “I’m glad to have a job,” I told him. He mumbled something I couldn’t possibly understand. I nodded. I left him there, as he kept a careful eye on the various people inside the store.

As for drugs, a river of drugs runs through Fayetteville. Most places are like that, even if you don’t see the river flowing. There are people you know who use them, people who would surprise you. I can literally go next door if I were inclined and buy a pharmacy of them. If people behave, I don’t care what they do. They are going to do it anyway.

For the people who swim in that river, I don’t despise them. I’m glad I don’t.

If they are indeed high, I do hope they are happy.

I’ll take my half-dose of Lexapro and drink my cup of coffee now, as well as eat the banana I bought. Even though a couple of hours have elapsed since I saw the clerk, I know he is still eyeing the patrons of his store, waiting for the inevitable brouhaha that always erupts. My laundry is about done drying. It’s interesting going down to the laundry dungeon so early. I put it in to wash and took a walk, owning the quiet streets, my ears filled with joyous music to propel my steps.

Love, X

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