Dear Night Manager Greg,
I understand that you felt that you were doing me a favor when you “gave me a few extra” potato wedges with my order. You certainly didn’t have to be considerate. If I were in the employ of a convenience store, I would go the extra mile to not create smiles on the faces of strangers. You are the bigger man. And here therein lies the problem: you’re trying to make me your bigger man apprentice. Literally and figuratively.
I had already shamed my family — generations of pale, thin-framed Anglos — by deciding to get dinner from your store. I live in Brooklyn, where one could literally find anything to eat if they were willing to put in the effort. You want Ethiopian? No problem. Vegan tacos? Definitely. Freshly maimed alpaca? Yessiryoubetcha. It’s all around, the world is your oyster, a freshly shucked bucket of them. So it takes a certain type of asshole to walk into a 7 Eleven and get genuinely excited to see fried foodstuffs mildly toasting under a red lamp.
“2 for $2? Is it my birthday? I’ll take twelve, good sir!” I squealed with delight.
I suppose you could sense my enthusiasm, not that it wasn’t bursting at the seams, like so much pants. You proceeded to pluck the finest of Corn Dog Rollers© with the delicacy of an obstetrician extracting a newborn from a mother’s netherest of regions.
You selected the MVP of Buffalo Chicken Go-Go Taquitos©, giving a quick wink in my direction, which I gladly accepted and etched onto the tablet of my heart.
Then came the potato wedges. Oh, the potato wedges. They were the Arc de Triomphe of my order, the Starry Starry Night of my appetite, there to satisfy in ways only God Himself could understand. There’s a reason why you’re in charge of this corner store, obviously, because when you saw me light up like a hot-air balloon when you reached for the potato tongs, a knowing smile graced your lips.
You thought to yourself, “This guy works hard, with his pressed slacks and slouched shoulders. He deserves your kindness, Greg. Pay it forward.”
I watched eagerly, like a puppy peering at a bowl being filled on a countertop, as you continued to pile wedges into a tiny box.
“Is that one going to fit? Oh, I hope it does,” I thought, knowing full well you’d make the room.
One-by-one you placed those bountiful spuds upon their brethren, going on for what felt like hours. And as you closed the lid, I felt an odd sense of relief, like there was just too much beauty surrounding this infinite world for one man to handle.
You clicked it shut, looked deep within my shaken eyes, and said, “I gave you a few extra,” like I wasn’t already keenly aware of your good grace.
It was at this moment that I felt loss, a deep sense of longing that had never before entered my soul. What else had I been missing all this time? Why did it take 31 years for me to witness an act of authentic compassion? Did I deserve what was just given to me? So many times have I passed those on the street that very blatantly needed my help: homeless families, lost dogs, ladies with brand-new haircuts yet to be complimented, babies in need of cheek pinchings, etc.
With these questions buzzing around my feeble mind, I could not enjoy my expertly prepared meal. Every bite felt greedy, full of the tears of the less-thans. Not to mention the grease that was burning the roof of my mouth. That didn’t help.
I spent an hour trying to choke down the last of those wedges, dabbing the moisture from my eyes, and the oily substance congealing on the corner of my mouth. It was a humbling experience. The kind that leads men to madness or monasteries. If I wasn’t a sex addict, the latter would have found me.
So explains the reason for this correspondence. You need to know that your actions have consequences, good intentions or no. I don’t want this information to lay heavy in your mind; this was not my goal. Simply, the next time a simple-minded sort walks into your store, maybe skimp them a little. They’ll be subdued by these actions, maybe even respect you for them. Also, you’ll delay their heart attack/diabetes by a few days. Their children will thank you.
You’re great at your job, Greg. Possibly the best to ever do the work. I’ll speak of you to future generations, making you immortal.
With respect and heartburn,