This morning I felt a need for some exercise, some sort of activity to clear the cobwebs from my brain. There are always a few which are resistant to caffeine.
I descended the stairs and unlocked my bicycle. It’s a calm morning and the temperature is hovering around 50 degrees Fahrenheit. Should I wear a jacket? Naw — I only planned to ride a half-mile to a gas station and back, hardly long enough to get chilled.
I didn’t need to buy anything. I picked this destination because I enjoy seeing the early morning clerks and customers and possibly exchanging a few words with someone.
There is little traffic on Quincy’s streets at 5:30 in the morning, a good thing because I have no lights on my bicycle. I wheeled up to the brightly-lit station. The shift manager, a world-weary and hard-bitten woman I’ll call Mel in this post, was wearing a jacket and smoking a cigarette on the sidewalk out front. She’s in her forties but looks older.
“Hi, Mel! A little chilly this morning, huh?”
“Oh, it ain’t that bad! It’s gonna get a lot worse, I have a feeling. I hear somethin’ is movin’ in towards the end of the week.”
“It’s been quite an Indian Summer, hasn’t it?”
“Oh, yeah, but this winter is gonna be a killer!”
“I’m kinda worried about that. I deliver papers on a rural motor route.”
“Hmphh! Ya better carry blankets and those hand-warmers!”
“And an extra spare tire, too!”
“Jumper cables might come in handy.”
“It’s weird — none of the other rural drivers have worked through a winter. A lot of turnover on that job! I’m wondering if the drivers all die during the winter and they just hire new ones in the spring.”
Mel laughed, and said, “Well, good luck survivin’! Maybe you’ll be the first!”
Mel stubbed out her cigarette and headed for the door. She said: “I’m waitin’ on a truck — should have been here by now.”
“Yeah, a big ol’ semi filled with a bunch of shit for us to stock.”
I bade Mel farewell and rode off down the street towards home. Time to make some oatmeal!