September 17, 2009

Revelation at Discount Tire ~ via P. T. Winton.

A 600 word story reflecting on time and kindness in our busy world.

Here I sit in Discount Tire, reading R.M. Rilke’s ‘Letters to a Young Poet’; trying to think deep thoughts. It is already November. I am just getting around to putting the studded-snow tires on the car.  We are headed up to the mountains to ski today, and I have waited until the last possible moment to get this task done. This is how I do most things these days.  Fitting tasks into little compartments in my schedule.  Filling the spaces neatly, everyday. It’s kind of like packing the wagon for this ski trip. Everything has its spot. But, I’m never really sure if we’ll have enough space. Somehow though, we always make it work. We use every possible nook and cranny, and then off we go. Zoom!
Across the parking lot, a dark blue armored truck with pristinely-enameled, white letters that spell D-U-N-B-A-R A-R-M-O-R-E-D pulls up to the the shiny KFC next door.

Last time I was at a ‘KFC’ it was called ‘Kentucky Fried Chicken’. Everything is meant for speed these days. FYI, OMG, IMHO that is crazy, she might type. I can’t even understand my ten year old niece anymore. Talk about a generation gap. They don’t even speak our language anymore.  What’s a parent to do?

My thoughts wander some more. Am I really old?  Are things changing really quickly? Maybe it’s just the fact that I don’t really eat fast food anymore, especially at KFC. It just never seems like a viable option. My doctor says that I am the only recently-former vegetarian he knows that has an LDL (that’s the bad cholesterol, I’ve been told) score as high as mine. A victim of heredity, he says. I ask what I can do. He prescribes some statins, shrugs, and says that I should enjoy my youth because he’s pretty sure that longevity is not my destiny. Ouch.

But, I digress.

A gentleman robotically steps out of the armored car, menacing side-arm and all. He has a serious job. He protects money. Lately, that job has become more serious, I think to myself. Potentially, the threat of theft is greater than ever. Money is something that there is a lot less of these days. And people, especially poor people need it more than ever.

The man carries a largish black bag. It has the heft of metal.  Change for the KFC.  Quarters, dimes, nickels, and pennies. Maybe some lint, too. Change always seems to attract lint. Why is that? And, why isn’t the inverse true? I’ve tested it-very scientifically, mind you. I collected a ball of lint. The money did not show up.

Again, I digress.

The man peers through the front door of the KFC. There is the colonel, staring right back at him. He bangs confidently on the glass door.  By his movement, I can tell that someone inside has acknowledged his existence. I imagine the person inside. They are climbing over a counter. Carefully making their way past the fry-maker thingy. Slowly making their way to the front door.

While guard waits, he turns slowly, surveying the space around him–searching for potential threats. None discovered, yet. His searching eyes and seriousness finally find me. A pane of glass, the letters D-I-S-C-O-U-N-T T-I-R-E, and some sickly trees meticulously planted in a parking lot median, separate us. I grin broadly. He frowns and steps inside the KFC. What happened to smiles, time and prosperity?

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