THE FIVE PEOPLE YOU MEET IN 7-ELEVEN!
Thirst happens. You don't plan on it. Your itchy throat and dry lips eventually keep winning your attention until are consumed with the need to consume. So, while you're driving around at night, distracted by your parched ways and the grainy sand in the hourglass of obsession, you don't even realize what's just down the road.
Your heart quickens. Your foot goes heavy on the brake. Brightness surrounds you. No, it's not heaven. It's 7-Eleven.
There are five people you meet at 7-Eleven. The first stops you on the way in.
"Got any change," he asks.
He extends a hand that is dirty and torn. He smells like a brew and puke cocktail. You wish he wasn't there. You wish you were inside. What a silly question to ask. Of course you have change. You're walking into a convenience store.
He argues that he's hungry while his other hand cradles a bottle wrapped in a wrinkled paper bag. There's little doubt as to what he will do if you dig into your pocket for spare coins. You resist. But every person you meet has a lesson to share. The beggar? His opening comment is the lesson. Change? Yes. You have the power to change. We all do.
You move on, grabbing the store's handle and pulling back on the glass door, framed in steel. An elderly man clutches a copy of the local paper and walks out, thanking you for your graciousness.
He looks familiar so you look back. His lesson is the news. Today's paper is yesterday's news. You turn around. You realize that reflection is a scam under just about every context.
With Destination: Big Gulp in motion you walk over to the soda dispenser. You see a young girl by the Slurpee machine. In the act of trying to time the maximum amount of frozen goodness that will fit in her cup she's had to go through three circular lids. Four. The frozen cola flows over the lid and onto her goth-black fingernails. She turns to you and shrugs her shoulders.
Yes, Slurpess can be a brain freeze. You can't numb the mind. There are too many great thoughts worth thinking.
You pour yourself a heaping portion of soda, snagging a quick sip to set the quenching process in motion, and you make your way to the register. You pass the condiments table where a middle-aged construction worker is loading up his hot dog with cheese.
"I like mine with everything on it," he tells you as he reaches over for some napkins for his ketchup-drenched fingers.
Yes, he is the fourth person you have met and his lesson is dripping before you. Life is a hot dog. Go ahead and pile on as much as you can.
You lay your Big Gulp on the counter and the cashier smiles. She points out how the beef jerky set up as an impulse item by the register is on sale. Buy one, get one free. You're not hungry. But you know someone who is. You pay for your jerky and your soda, knowing that compassion has been doled out. Everything in this world is "buy one, get one free" you realize. There is no item that is bought -- or decision that is made -- that doesn't come with some form of additional baggage or bring on a new set of ramifications.
You leave the store empowered. The beggar does not approach you. You approach him. He extends his scruffy palm. You hand over a pair of beef jerky sticks. He's grateful. It wasn't exactly what he has bargaining for when it comes to chasing his hunger away but at least it's a sobering snack.
Besides, you already ate when you fed your head with the five lessons that were dispensed.
There are five people you meet in 7-Eleven. No quest for quenching is worthless.