Friday, March 17, 2006

Winding Down?

Carlos’ hands moved like lightning, a blur of scanning skill; consummate professional. He took a customer’s payment with his left hand while moving the next customer’s cart into position with his right.

Terminator of the Till.

I glanced nervously at my watch. 2:59:55. Five seconds, three, one. Now!

Looking up I could see that Carlos, precisely at the end of his shift, had finished checking out a customer. Perfect timing. Deftly, he removed the cash drawer, pivoted smartly and strode purposely towards the office to check out.

I moved my cart to Check Out Line Number 8 just as the Old Hand keyed in his code.

“I thought I’d see you here today.” The Old Hand greeted me warmly, and then glanced into my cart. “Going camping, I see,” he surmised taking in the contents.

“Yep, it’s been a big week for me and I’m taking a few days off.”

The Old Hand started scanning the items in my cart in no particular hurry. We both had time for some conversation.

“Backpacking, I’d say,” said the Old Hand as he rang up the third package of Raman Noodles. Then, he got to the oatmeal and squeeze cheese, looked up into the distance and became quiet for a moment.

“Judging from the weight, texture and selection, I’d guess you’re going into the Hill Country. Somewhere around Bandera.” He paused. “Near Tarpley Pass.”

“Not bad,” I observed, but not quite impressed. “Which side of Tarpley Pass?”

The Old Hand narrowed his eyes and placed his left hand gently on a package of Raman Noodles. After a moment he turned and said, “South side. Turkey Creek Canyon, near the Cyprus trees.”

I was thinking about that campsite by the spring, near the end of the canyon, which was more like a gulch but as canyoney as I was going to get.

“Spot on, Old Hand,” I smiled with admiration, “I knew you’d come through.”

“So,” the Old Hand observed as he handed me the credit card receipt to sign, “your meeting with the rock star went OK I take it?”

“Yes, it did.” I returned the receipt and pen. “An inspiring experience. You’d think at this point in my life I’d be winding down but I find I’m winding up. That’s why I’m going camping. To unwind.”

“Well, have fun and don’t unwind too much.” The Old Hand waved. “Oh, one other thing. The Red Trail just past the water tower is choked with branches that blew down during the storm a few weeks ago. You might want to consider taking the White Trail around that spot. Unless, of course, you’re interested in a service project.”

“Service is good,” I replied and made a mental note to check out the Red Trail.

Yep, this weekend was starting to look just ripe enough. Let’s go!


Bret said...

Did you know that the UPC code for Dachshund is 666?

Anonymous said...

I'd kill for an Old Hand of my own.

All I've got are a few white trash gals with gray skin, long pink fingernails, and who can't tell the difference between parsley and cilantro.

Anonymous said...

gerah- That is SO funny ... I just purchased some cilantro the other day at my neighborhood giant conglomorate grocery store and noticed on the receipt it was rung in as parsley! weird that I would read your post just a couple days after noticing that ...


Coelecanth said...

People down south are going camping already, it's enough to make me weep. We just got another foot of snow in this little corner of the great white north. Goes to show just who won that war.

Enjoy your trip and please have some s'mores for those of us still freezing our asterisks off.