Mr. Zesty Pants Rides Again

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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.


For instance…


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

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