A Fun Trip to Dollar General

I drove to the nearest Dollar General–the one by Four-Way Express–last Tuesday for some cough drops and vapor rub. Eddie went with me (he’s the black lab I rescued May 24th). When we arrived I fastened his leash to his collar and opened the driver’s side door. As usual, he jumps out and I struggle to hold onto him. After coaxing him back into the car I walk inside the DG.

After I wander around a while I find the Hall’s Cough Drops but not the Vick’s–that’s the brand I want because that’s what Mother always used when I was a kid. I walk to the cashier, an older lady (defined by her long gray hair) with semi-thick glasses. I asked for the Vick’s. She offered to show me where it was.

Unsurprisingly, I’d missed it since it was with the other ‘Health Aids.’ She returned to her post and I pondered the purchase. Confused, I chose not to purchase this boxed item. It didn’t look like what I remembered Mother buying.

I kept the cough drops and returned to the Cashier. There were two customers ahead of me. The first transaction was quick and the thick girl departed. I asked myself if I looked as homeless as she did. Probably. I’d chosen comfortable and worn clothes to my new and stylish garments. Joke.

The Cashier was now dealing with the second customer, a man, maybe 6 foot 2, wearing blue-jeans, a dark sweatshirt, and a pair of well work cowboy boots. He looked as though he might have just gotten off a cattle drive. He laid his cell phone on the counter and removed a pile of cash from his front right pocket. He started to count the money, arranging it in stacks. I guessed, one hundred dollar stacks.

From the carefully selected screen showing on his cell phone and his methodical counting and stacking of cash on the counter I imagined he was attempting to transfer money to a prepaid debit card. Obviously, I could be wrong. Just as a guess, the Cashier could be his mother and he was repaying her for some old debt. I digress, this was not likely what was happening.

I continued to wait. The cashier, now, is recounting the money. One stack at a time. The fifth stack, or, it might have been the sixth, was trouble. She recounted it two times. I could tell this stack had some five dollar bills in it. The Cashier conducted the third count of the fifth (sixth?) stack backwards. The man reached into his left front pocket and pulled out a handful of coins and started laying them out in more stacks, actually not stacks, but circles, each coin laying on the counter and segregated into distinct categories.

The Cashier displayed her best confused look but didn’t give up. She plunged into a recount of all five (six?) stacks, for now ignoring the piles of coins. To me it seemed like hours had transpired. In truth, it had only been a few minutes. I decided I didn’t need these particular Hall’s cough drops after all. I turned and placed the small bag on the candy rack behind me and walked out. Eddie was waiting patiently in the driver’s seat.

I drove us to Walgreen’s in Boaz for a different bag of Hall’s cough drops and a container of Vick’s vapor rub, the type Mother bought and used on me as a kid, maybe sixty years ago.

During mine and Eddie’s ride home I realized how proud my dearly departed mother would be if she knew how patient and diligent I’d been taking care of my three-day old cold, and for rescuing this black tornado.

Author: Richard L. Fricks

Former CPA, attorney, and lifelong wanderer. I'm now a full-time skeptic and part-time novelist. The rest of my time I spend biking, gardening, meditating, photographing, reading, writing, and encouraging others to adopt The Pencil Driven Life.

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