••• Thursday, August 24, 2006

Time Bandits 

::One more apology. I somehow lost comments on this post when I republished. Sorry. I'm done. I don't know what's wrong, but it's in this post because when I took it out, the blog appeared normal. This is not a publicity stunt. Now I need a drink. It's 11:00 a.m. somewhere, right?::

::Edited again, italics didn't work. This time I'm changing the WTF button upload. Sorry for the confusion::

::Edited 8/25 to remove italics to see if that helps with the page view issues.::

Last week it started. Once a day, three days running. Memos in the mail, from another planet, reminding me that I am soon expected back to the currently-alien-to-me world of work.

By the end of every summer, I'm always ready to go back to work. I not only love my job, but I also need it. The structure. The purpose. The morning drive radio.

Assisted by the observable traits of a devolving summer, in early August I begin the mental and emotional preparation for returning to work. In other words, I try to approach the end of my annual summer hiatus with gratitude, maturity and acceptance. Until this year.

Sunday night ::at the cottage:: we went for ice cream at our favorite shop; the canoe livery. Besides the canoes, kayaks, tubes, grill and ice cream shop,there is also a store, where you can buy just about any novelty geegaw or last minute, emergency camping supply you can imagine. ::I often wonder how many campers make a late night emergency run for the key chain with the rubber cow that bubbles a blob of retractable rubber poop when you squeeze it?::

Going to the canoe livery for ice cream is never a dull venture. The livery workers are mostly college-age students who, seemingly oblivious to prying ears, freely gossip, tease and cajole amongst themselves, sometimes about things other folks ought not be hearing. There are also plenty of people watching ops, via the other customers.

We usually sit on benches by the river to eat our ice cream. On cooler evenings, we might sit next to the firepit where, regardless of the weather, there is always a crackling flame. On this Sunday the weather was cool and fallish, so fire sounded kind of nice.

The only picture I could find of the livery was this one of Cakers, circa 2004.

Anyway. So we arrive about 7:45 and get in line. The first thing I notice is the fire pit is empty and swept clean. Not even a cinder. Then I see that the benches next to the river are soaking wet, from the nearby sprinkler, running full blast. All the canoes and kayaks were neatly stacked and the livery counter was locked up tight. And not a college student in sight.

The whole scene was disturbing in its weirdness. And somehow very wrong. And then I saw the sign over the take-out window that read: Starting August 20, we will close at 8:00. No grill orders after 7:30.

I'm telling you, there is no amount of emotional and mental preparation that could have prepared me for this level of presumptuous audacity. These river rats are trying to close summer! Early!

First I was stunned.
Then I was scared.
Then I got mad.

"No!" I yelled at the other customers. My husband and daughter looked at me with mortified amazement as I continued.

"They can't do this! We must stop them!"

"Beg your pardon, ma'am?" asked the grandpa who bore a striking resemblance to Jabba the Hutt, sitting on the bench near the ice cream line.

"They're trying to close summer early. We have to do something. We can take them. "

"Well, ma'am, no disrespect, but summer is coming to a close."

"You think I don't know that? I know that. According to my calendar, we have two more weeks to righteously enjoy the full benefits of summer. I'd go in the store and grab a calendar to show you but the most recent year they have is 1996 and I'm afraid that working from an outdated calendar will just lay fodder for debate,dissent and custerfluckin'. We don't have time. We must move quickly."

"Move quickly?" He slurped through a strand of chocolate-caramel-peanut-butter-cup-hot-fudge-sundae drool. "I ain't moved quickly since 1972, the day I chased and caught my Vera. God Rest her soul."

"I'm sorry for your loss, but we need to take action now."
"Oh, my Vera didn't die. She's in prison for trying to shove a Sunday roaster up my ass while I was sleeping. It was Easter."

We can stop this tyranny!
We can save summer!

Grandpa the Hutt just blinked at me, from behind his chocolate-caramel-and-peanut- butter-cup-splattered glasses. By now the rest of the customers, including my own family, had scattered in all directions. One family chose standing under the sprinkler over being anywhere near my craziness.

"I'll do it myself," I muttered, as went into the store.

Once in the store, the first thing I did was size up the situation. There were two women employees working behind the counter, both in their 60's. One was putting money in a deposit bag, while the other one was working paperwork.

There was only one other customer in the store. She was standing at the counter, trying to decide between two Alabama counterfeit celebrity driver's licenses. Osama Bin Laden and Kermit the Frog. She didn't even look up.

The next thing I did was select my weapon. Within arm's reach was a stack of wooden weenie sticks, so I grabbed one. My second choice was the very authentic looking rubber tommy hawk, adorned with fuchsia and blue raspberry-hued feathers. I stuck this handle-wise, into my waistband.

"May I help you?" asked one of the summer stealing crones, from behind the counter.

"Yes, you can help me," I replied, as I made my way toward my first bargaining chip, the Jiffy Pop rack.

"You can help me and this here package of Jiffy Pop by listening real good, and doing exactly what I tell you."

I then raised the sharpened end of the weenie stick to the Jiffy Pop package. "One wrong move, and the Jiffy Pop gets it in the expandable foil, which will render it useless. And I know that none of us wants that. Once word gets out that you sell impotent Jiffy Pop, you lose all campground cred."

"Is this a robbery?" She said all a tremble.

"You're the only thievin' wench in this room. I'm here to take back what's been taken from us. I'm here for justice."

"What are you talking about?" She asked.

By now, both employees were staring, mouths agape. The customer was still trying to decide between her choices, although it looked like she was leaning toward Kermit, but I'm not sure.

"I'm here to take back summer. You're trying to close summer early and we're just not having it. We're not ready. It's not time. We need more time."

"What do you want from us?" she said.

By now, I had the customer's attention. At first she looked scared, but then I looked her in the eye and said "They're planning on closing the shop in five minutes, from right beneath you, whether you're ready or not. Are you ready? Or do you need more time? To decide?"

The customer turned to the employees with a glare of betrayal. "Is this true? You're closing at 8:00? It's still August. We have two weeks left!"

My new comrade took the clerks' silence as admission and turned back to me and gave me a nod. In one swift motion, I pulled the rubber tommy hawk from my waistband and tossed it to her. Without taking her eyes off of me, she snatched the piece as it was about to fly way the fuck over her head. I'm guessing she played ball in college, but I didn't ask.

"Go stand by the shelf with the crystal unicorns adorned with birthstones. They're right next to the angel holograms of the Lord's Prayer. And when I say the word, the unicorns go," I commanded.

Both ladies behind the counter, gasped in unison, at the unicorns.

"We'll do whatever you say," says one.

"Well, I say you give us our summer back. I say you stay open every night until 10:00 until Labor Day. I say you be available to sell the Jiffy Pop to the desperate popcorn lover, without a microwave. I say you be available to the parents of the little camper who's afraid to sleep in a tent without a pair of x-ray vision glasses, so he can keep a watch out for bear and cougar. And what about the desperate antique collector who is looking for a late night coupe of a 1993 Garfield calendar? Who's going to help her get through the night, if not you? And since you asked, I say you quit selling black market Jart sets to the able visioned innocents who don't know better. Giving away free prosthetic eyeballs with every set, doesn't make up for the danger. In fact, it may give people a false sense of security. And you might want to pull the Rely tampons off the shelf. I don't have time to explain that one. Try Google."

Filled with shame and remorse, the weeping women apologized for their selfishness and agreed to our demands. While they refilled the cash register and changed the Closed sign to Open, my ally handed me the tommy hawk and returned to poring over her two selections. I bit my tongue to keep from giving her my input. I figured she has until 10:00 p.m. daily, for two more weeks to figure it out.

Finally, my husband came into the store and said "WTF is going on in here?"

"WTF is exactly what's going on in here. It's WTF Wednesday."

"But it's not Wednesday."


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