I walk a lot and I like to have a destination. On my late night walks here in Quincy I enjoy making my way to a gas station/convenience store a few blocks away, up on Broadway.
I’m a schmoozer and I particularly like to talk with female clerks. Two clerks I’ve become acquainted with on the night shift at that station are named Bonnie and Ava. The overnight shift can be slow and these clerks, like most people, can easily be induced to tell me their life stories.
Bonnie is twenty years old and she’s attending classes at the local community college; she wants a CNA certificate. She doesn’t want to be a clerk forever, after all. She is just stunningly beautiful with large eyes reminiscent of Elizabeth Taylor’s, and brown hair which has been cunningly styled so that her nobly-featured face is ovally framed. She is seemingly unaware of her beauty and doesn’t seem to be vain. I was talking with her the other night about the other clerks:
“Who’s that short blonde one? What do you think about her?”
Bonnie nearly sneered.
“Oh, that li’l blonde thang? She don’t do her work — I come in after her and the cooler’s a mess!”
I was tickled by that, particularly by the drawled Southern-sounding pronunciation of the word “thing”.
On another visit to the station I talked for quite a while with “that li’l blonde thang”. Her name is Ava, and she’s a 25-year-old Quincy native.. Her husband is laid off and she has two young children. She also wants to get a CNA but hasn’t started school yet. I was telling her about my band’s impending visit to St. Louis for the annual Tionol Irish music gathering.
She said “So you’re a fiddler! I am too! I used to play with my family at various oprys around here, but they seem to have dried up and blown away.”
“How many fiddlers are left in the Quincy area?”
“Not many, maybe three including me.”
I told her about my band’s practice session every other week at the La Gondola Italian restaurant here in Quincy. I told her she ought to come by and play with us, or at least listen, the next time we practiced there.
“Yeah, I’d love that! Here, let me give you my phone number — give me a call the next time you practice.”
She slipped a scrap of paper into my hand.
I was nonplussed, as varying interpretations can be given to being given a woman’s phone number.
“I’ll give you a call, Ava.”
Late last night, after I had recovered from the weekend’s fiddling efforts at the Tionol event, I walked over to the station on Broadway to buy a pack of cigarettes and see who was on duty.
A seasoned clerk named Lizzie was behind the counter. She’s a salty woman in her thirties with a sardonic view of life.
I said “I thought Ava was working tonight.”
“That silly no-good bitch! She just up and quit this weekend — she knew we were gettin’ ready to fire her. She just wasn’t doin’ her job. And here she is with a laid off husband, kids to raise, and they’re eight months behind on their mortgage payment!”
I felt bad hearing that news. I really shouldn’t spend time worrying about the problems of someone I just met, not when I have my own to deal with — but I’ll call her up and offer my condolences.