Monday, July 6, 2009


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.


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. You're the Palm Springs of writing.

  3. Holy Cow! You got talent, kid!

  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.

  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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