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“Wow! Look at all the shoe boxes!” Sweetness exclaims as she opens the rear passenger door of my bookmobile to retrieve two heavy bags from the seat.

The bags are filled with clothing and multi-textured cloth products ready to be laundered.

It is Tuesday morning. I’ve just pulled up to the front of the laundromat and Sweetness has popped out of the entrance to grab the bags as an extra service to me, the regular customer. What she sees are two re-purposed shoe boxes filled with Christmas goodies packed and headed for the postal service. Shoe boxes deserve an afterlife, and this is it.

I call Sweetness Sweetness because I don’t know her real name, and because she’s always chipper and smiling, a friendly flower child. She makes my Tuesdays a little sweeter.

I wish her a great day, she reciprocates, and I’m off to my next adventure–getting those packages mailed at the UAB postal station where, again, my morning is flavored with the good will of my favorite postmistress. We exchange pleasantries and gossip, she processes everything like clockwork, wishes me a great day and smiles when I wish her right back. I know her real name, but I label her Postmistress in honor of my late Aunt Gladys McGee, who was postmistress of Peterson, Alabama, when I was a child.

I pull up to a pump at the convenience station, obey robotic instructions, fill the tank, retrieve my credit card, and enter the store. I take one Diet Coke and a sin-filled calorie-loaded pastry to checkout, where Ms. Convenient grins and makes change. We banter, I grab my goodies, I head for the door. I don’t know her name, either. But she is so nicely convenient to my routine that the improvised title seems just right.

The bookmobile then pushes workward, but first I stop at Family Dollar to pick up store supplies and chat with another clerk who always seems happy to see me. She is Family Lady. We are three-minute friends every few days.

Then, I wend my way to the commercial parking lot where the bookmobile will slumber all day. I trade friendly and newsworthy remarks with the lot attendant, who, like me, is always grateful for our dialogues. He is Park Man, my mini super-hero.

Then, I tread the short block to the bookshop, forever waving to the bank clerks on the corner, sharing a smile or a puzzled look, depending on who’s on duty.

I grapple with the shop keys, dive into the store, and meet my daytime buddies, the books, the books, the books. They, too, add sweetness to my day and prepare me for the diversity of customers and clients I will face. They all have names.

By the time I’m ready to lower the drawbridge and welcome visitors, I’ve completed a full cycle of pre-work activities.

I am now ready for my second shift

© 2016 A.D. by Jim Reed




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