Wednesday, July 30, 2014

The Visit

Clint parked his car and walked toward the entrance of the convenience store gas station. A horse drawn cart full of what appeared to be Amish young women emptied. A procession of bonneted fourteen and fifteen year olds made their way toward the entrance as well. Clint opened the door for them and noticed the craft of their homespun long dresses which Clint supposed they sewed themselves. Each young woman politely thanked Clint for holding the door. Each called him sir.

Clint followed the procession into the convenience store, selected his breakfast and coffee, and watched the reactions of the other customers in the store. There were double takes, awkward silences after the young women greeted each person politely, and stares as they cheerfully went about the business.

A back up occurred at the counter and Clint watched each young woman pay for their modest items in cash while smiling as if this whole process was a treat. The obese woman behind the counter greeted each customer per company policy, “Thank you for stopping and shopping.” Her words fell out of her mouth like jagged shards of gnawed plastic: cold, emotionless, and dead. The obese clerk froze for a moment when the next customer in line was a young Amish girl with a bonnet over her tightly wound hair bun. “Thank you for stopping and shopping,” the clerk wheezed. While usually there was no response at all from the customer, the young lady responded, “It is my pleasure, ma’am.” The clerk became mildly disoriented for a moment then blurted, “Credit or debit?” The young lady set a five dollar bill on the counter. “Cash, ma’am.”

At a low volume from the convenience store speakers, a Madonna song played: “…We are living in a material world…and I am a material girl.”

Clint glanced at the clerk’s sidekick who emerged from the back office to help ring customers up which were stacked back to the candy aisle. His face was pierced in seven different places. He had superficial cut scabs in a design running down each of his forearms. His hair was shaved in bizarre patterns and dyed black. Under his apron he wore a black T-shirt which clearly read “Death” in a red smear font across his chest. He set the “Register Closed” sign aside and looked up to greet the next customer in line with the same line. “Thank you for stop—“ He stopped mid-sentence and stared at the Amish women.

“You’re welcome, sir,” a young lady said, smiling bright and holding up a ten dollar bill.

He stared for a moment as if he was viewing an alien creature with their politeness, respect, and modesty. He rang up her items, received her payment, and returned her change to her. “God love you, sir. Good day.”

The clerks looked at each other for a moment and delayed the line a little longer while watching the procession return to the horse drawn cart and travel away. 

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