Monday, July 6, 2009

Yakima

If Yakima is the Palm Springs of Washington, then I'm the Bob Hope of I-90 East. The air looked hot, as if everything was filtered through a brown lens speckled with sand. A flashing LED billboard boasted 97 degrees. The off-ramp 7-11 was a hub of activity on that Sunday afternoon, and every vagabond face bore the hard scowl of a scarred soul.

A girl in a tartan bikini held open the door for me. She was looking good but it was her companion that caught my eye, a humongoid in bib overalls with a cotton-white poof of hair. Mere blips on my life's radar, nothing more than a throw away sentence on a joke blog, and yet they were coming from somewhere, and going somewhere, and are indeed somewhere right now. They have existed and continue to exist with little regard for what I may think or say of them or any notion that our respective lifelong journeys intersected at that point of time and space.

The inside of a 7-11 is a security blanket. The breeze of an overzealous swamp cooler, the smell of hot coffee and spilt Slurpee. I'm eight years old again, hoping for an ice cold bottle of Squirt, a pack of Cheetos, and a GI Joe comic to sustain me through a family road trip.

I stray at the newspaper rack and the beer cooler, the only two areas of a 7-11 that offer any variance from state to state. No ice cold bottle of Squirt for me today. I have leagues of pavement yet ahead of me and coffee is the only thing on the menu today. The Sev has a new offering, an iced coffee, one of my much-publicized vices. 99 cents for a limited time. I like coffee flavored coffee but vanilla cream will have to do. It tastes exactly as good as 99 cent 7-11 iced coffee should taste.

The wine rack offers a Sonoma vintage exclusive to 7-11 stores. It's called Pink Truck. I didn't buy any but I bet it tastes exactly as good as 7-11 zinfandel should taste.

Scratch-off lottery tickets encased in glass underneath the counter. "Oh, and five dollars worth of those," I say as a diminutive man with prison tattoos and revenge on his mind muscles his way through the door.

I look back to the clerk. She's too young and pretty to be working at a 7-11 in the Palm Springs of Washington. She's looking at me shyly but expectantly, lips pursed and eyebrows raised. "Uh... doesn't matter, just whatever." I guess some people have preferred brands of scratch off lottery tickets. She rips five different cardboard tickets off the rolls and rings them up. As I gather them she looks footward and mumbles "I hope I picked you some winners." She looks back to me with almost half of a smile. "I'm sure you did," I say and in my head my teeth sparkle.

I haven't scratched them yet, maybe I never will. Maybe I'll dirty my thumbnail while stuck in a traffic jam. Maybe they'll sit forgotten in the glove box for the next year and a half. Maybe the waxy scratch-off will melt in the July heat. Or maybe it's just better to hope you've picked winners than know that you haven't.

8 comments:

  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  2. You're the Palm Springs of writing.

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  3. Holy Cow! You got talent, kid!

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  4. two things:
    1. i always thought doing a follow-up journalistic piece @ chinese gourmet; bringing mr archuleta in and testing their little sign out.
    2. it took me 4 read-throughs to get the graffiti in the men's room what with i'm a lady and all.

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  5. the pic of archuleta road sign is a fake. notice how the cars are the exact same in both pics.

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  7. I didn't buy any but I bet it tastes exactly as good as 7-11 zinfandel should taste.
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