MR. ZESTY PANTS RIDES AGAIN
I haven’t been many places and I haven’t done much,
compared to lots of other people. But in my mind,
everything I’ve done and everywhere I’ve been manage
to take up volumes of space and produce endless
stories and reflections. Each tiny moment of my
life is a tale that must be told, even if nobody’s
paying any attention.
It’s New Year’s Eve eve at the bookstore.
One non-book-reader customer is trying to find
something inexpensive or free to take with her.
She spies the basket of lollipops I keep on hand.
“How much are these?” she asks. “They’re free,” I
say. “OK, then,” she says, and begins downloading
the entire basket of candy into her purse, a generous
handful at a time. I freeze for a moment, because I
don’t want to make a scene in front of other
shoppers…but, dang it, it’s my store, so I have
to say something. “Uh, they’re free, one to a
customer,” I say firmly and pleasantly. “Oh!”
she says, and throws a few back into the basket
before going her way. At Halloween, there’s always
that one trick-or-treater who will grab half your
treats if you don’t say halt.
It’s one of those days when customers trickle in
just frequently enough so that I don’t have time
to take a bathroom or lunch break, so I wind up
eating out of my lap in between waiting on folks.
Today, I’m dining on leftover salad covered with
Liz’s zesty dressing, which I end up dumping into
my lap when two patrons ask questions at the same
moment. I have to police the floor and discard the
entire meal, unable to get the dressing out of my
britches. So, the rest of the day, I smell like Mr.
Zesty Pants…aromatic but unfulfilled and unfilled.
Marie gives me a break later on, so that I can go
search for some to-go food. Moe’s next door is closed
today, O’Carr’s bit the dust sometime back, so I rush
over to Pete’s Famous to get something quickly. The
line winds out the door, so I peer into Subway’s window,
where the always-slow service is sustaining a long line.
I try to enter Seafood D’Lite, but they have this funny
entrance that reads EXIT, and another unmarked door that
is the real entrance, only it just goes down a long white
hall with no signage, sort of like a Twilight Zone episode.
Daryl sticks his head out of the blank door and invites me
in, whereupon I learn in excruciating time extension that
Seafood D’Lite has a policy of cooking everything from
scratch—nothing is quick or ready to go. I decide to be
Patient Zesty Pants Guy and relax, visit with Daryl and
learn something from the experience. After the cook tells
Daryl he’s too busy stirring something to prepare a
hamburger, I wait while the cow is raised, stalked,
slaughtered, butchered, shipped and cooked. Or maybe
it just seems that way.
Anyhow, I finally get back to the store, relieve Marie,
eat my burger in big bites in between duties, and within
90 minutes, I’ve finished my meal and am ready to go home
to another one.
And that very night, we have zesty dressing again
© 2011 A.D. by Jim Reed