Alright, so I reach into my pack to grab a smoke and I realize I am about to
light my lucky. So we have a potential threat to world peace more terrifying
than North Korean missiles. My life just moved to DefCon 2. For those of
you who do not smoke, a lucky is the cigarette in the pack that corresponds
to the first initial of the person you are, or at least think you are, in love with.
In order for this little bit of lesser magic to function, you have to smoke your
So I hop in the car and head over to the closest gas station still open -
Holiday's... It is a poorly lit building that should have been condemned in the
early thirties, but the building inspectors were afraid to get close enough to
post the notice. Like every other gas station in the state, Holiday's keeps their
cigarettes secured behind the counter. Ostensibly they do this to stop
shoplifting. Unfortunately for them, it doesn't work all too often. When we
were younger, Nathan and I used to walk into gas stations, strike up a
conversation with the cashier, and see how many packs we could get. We
always returned them... most of them... because we knew most of the clerks.
Besides, the look of shock and amazement on their faces was worth it. We
once lifted, pocketed, and left with an entire carton worth of loose packs
while talking to Linda, the manager of Clark Oil in Algoma, about shop
lifting cigarettes from that very Clark Station...
Anyway, as I walk up to the counter, Spanky the buck-toothed wonder clerk
is talking to something that I guess is suppose to pass for his girlfriend. My
parents raised me with manners, so I stood there politely and waited. I could
not help but over hear the conversation. Apparently, the she thing from the
rancid lagoon recently had part of her body pierced. Spanky seemed eager to
see this artistic statement and asked her several times. When I saw her hands
move toward a pair of dingy sweat pants that looked as if they had walked
into the station on their own, I was forced to speak up. I wasn't sure what she
was going to show him, but I had a feeling that the words "Biological
Weapon" may come to play in the near future if I did not act fast. Besides,
one of my personal guidelines in life is to avoid anything that contains an
"Please don't," was all I said.
Spanky turned to look at me with visible contempt. "Can I help you?" he
asked in a tone that made the people at the Green Bay Utility Commission
sound down right friendly.
"No," I thought to myself. "I've been sitting here with my finger up my ass
for the better part of 15 minutes in this rat infested shit hole listening to you
put the moves on Quasimodo's less attractive sister because I have nothing
better to do with my free time than study the mating habits of the yeti."
Years of having manners beat into my head with the business end of a kayak
oar kept me from saying anything...
I looked at the young man and said," I need a carton of reds in a box."
It was a simple enough request. One I have made once a week for the last ten
years of my life. Marlboro cigarettes are often referred to as "reds." The
practice of ordering reds is so common, in fact, that RJ Reynolds, Phillip
Morris' largest competitor, came out with it's own brand of cigarettes to try
and get in on the action - Camel Reds. By far the most common way to
purchase Marlboro cigarettes is in a "hard pack." This is colloquially referred
to as a "box." It even says on the side of the carton "Flip Top Box" as
opposed to "Soft Pack."
"Cartons are boxes by definition," was his reply.
Now I knew either he was brand new to the retail business, dumb as a post, or
a real smart ass. Either way, I struggling to suppress those homicidal urges I
often get when dealing with the more "charming" members of society. I
explained to him in very simple language that I wanted the hard pack and not
the soft pack. He didn't quite seem to grasp the concept, but he turned to
look at the rack of cancer fastened to the wall behind him.
"We don't have any reds, sir," he said.
By this time, my stupidity tolerance was dropping faster than the DOW. I
looked at this industrial strength jack off. My fathers words echoing through
my head. "The best part of him ran down his mother's leg." Jack has such a
way with words. A profound observation.
"I can see the damn things from here," I replied. "Marlboro regular in a flip
He scowled. "Why didn't you ask for that in the first place?"
"I did," I said as calmly as possible.
"I am going to need to see some ID," he said as he swiped the carton passed
an antiquated UPC scanner.
"Give me a fucking break," I retorted as I reached for my wallet. "Can you
honestly tell me that you think I am younger than 18?" I dropped my license
on the counter.
I paid the bill and grabbed my cigarettes. By this time, I needed one. I tore
open the carton, opened a pack , and lit a cigarette as I left the building. I
haven't counted my change yet, but if that little son of a bitch shorted me, I'll
fucking kill him. I would be doing the world a favor...