I can hardly contain my excitement. But I will. Since the alternative is incontinence.
Around noon, I made a trip to town for some caffeine. Since I cannot readily buy the pure, uncut product (what do you think I am, a frequenter of highway truck stops?) I settled for a 44-ounce Diet Coke. It's not the same in a can or bottle, you know. It has to be a fountain drink.
Since my dust-up with the Sonic drive-thru dude, I visit that establishment sparingly. Okay, I've cut it down to twice a week. But the point is, I only ventured as far as the gas station chicken gas station for my beverage. Did you know that if you take your cup, you can get a refill for $1.39? Tax included. Thirty percent cheaper than Sonic. I threw in that little fact for all the math teachers. Don't lecture me on how I could buy a whole two-liter bottle for that. Pay attention. It's not the same out of a bottle.
I trekked down one aisle and around the bend to the soda fountain. I filled my recycled cup with about four fingers of ice. I suppose that reference is for bartenders or labor-and-delivery nurses. Take your pick. I added the Diet Coke, and reached for a lid. No dice! And no lids. They were out. Out of 44-ounce-cup lids! I should have recycled the lid as well, but I never see anybody carry in the lid for their refills. Still, I was not leaving without my magical elixir. I figured I could sip it on the blacktop road, enough so that sloshing on the gravel road would not breach the rim.
I got in line behind a woman buying lottery tickets, and a man paying for gas. At some point, another man appeared, off to the side of the original line. For some reason, the check-out counter has been modified of late, allowing people on both sides of the register by the door. That only encourages encroachers. It used to be perfectly clear where the line formed. But seriously. There's only one cashier at that register. One cashier, with two arms. It's not like she's the Hindu deity, Vishnu. I'm sure Vishnu has more pressing matters to attend to than ringing up gas station chicken, sodas, and lottery tickets.
When it was my turn, I said, nodding to the off-side man, "I'm not sure which of us was here first." I did that to be polite. I'm pretty sure I was in line before he came in and stood there.
Encroacher stepped up to the counter. "I want you to check these lottery tickets for me."
Cashier looked at me. "Just the soda?"
"Yes. But go ahead with him."
"Oh, you just have the soda. That's a dollar thirty-nine."
I handed over two dollars. "You're out of lids for this size."
"Well, I'll go get you a lid. That's easy enough." She handed back my change.
"It can wait a minute."
"No. This comes before checking lottery tickets. They're last." She came out from behind the counter, walked to the back of the store, and grabbed a bag of lids. "Here you go. Sorry for your wait." She carried the bag up to the counter with her. "I can put these in later."
"You're welcome. You come back."
All this while, the lottery-checker Encroacher was glaring at me. Too bad, so sad. I was a paying customer. Or maybe Checker knew this guy from experience. She said, "Do you think they're winners? Or do you just want me to check them?" Because they were scratchers. Normally, you can tell if they're winners if you read the instructions. It's not like they were Lotto or PowerBall and he didn't have the numbers. He looked like the kind of guy who would win, trade for more tickets, and stand at the counter to scratch them. I have nothing against lottery players. I've won a couple of big jackpots myself. But have the common decency to step out of line while you do your scratchin'.
So there you have it. Val's act of kindness was repaid by karma. Or by Even Steven, the poor man's karma.