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Tuesday

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“Stay out of the hot sun,” he said, snatching his newspaper from the counter with authority, while his slow limp out the door into the frigid November morning revealed his age. A cane, perhaps out of forgetfulness, was left leaning against the magazine rack. He wouldn’t get far without noticing, but it would be days before pride would be defeated by old limbs and a tired body. Safely behind the counter, a note attached is scribbled belongs to the man who says “stay out of the hot sun.” They would know.

Fridays are busy. Teenagers bustle in and out, gathering snacks to sneak into the movies. Red Bull and energy shots are bought in preparation for all-nighters at sleepovers. Saturdays are more of the same. Even Sundays can be hectic. There’s a turnstile of people stopping in after church or giggling while they print their photos from Friday night. Weekends bring in characters: people who hide their cats under their trench coats and ask you to watch their young children while they get their wallets out of their car.

But it’s a Tuesday. School
supplies are on sale and it is obvious just which money savvy young mothers will be making an appearance today. This week’s circular is at the ready, opened to page four. Notebooks, folders, and pencils painted with unicorns and Spiderman are purchased, while the mud brown store brand binders are left behind, destined for the clearance rack that will delight single dads who rush in three days into the school year.

“Give me three twenty-dollar tickets,” a scratchy voice barks. She scratches them by the photo-copier; out of the way, but close enough to the counter for when she runs out of empty hope to scratch. She wins thirty dollars and spends forty more. This tradeoff is familiar, and the exchange of small winnings and bigger spending will continue for some time.

The inevitable complaint comes soon enough.

“Isn’t this supposed to be a dollar off?” She even presents the sale tag that was neatly placed under the item earlier this morning. She compares the tag to her receipt and the confusion overwhelms her hard face, and that confusion turns to anger when the circular, open to just the right page, is presented before her, explaining that it is a rebate and that she won’t be getting that dollar for weeks. It’s a rip off and she is happy to take her business elsewhere. That is, until batteries go on sale and she is right back at the counter, asking “how have you been?”

“Another.” A twenty dollar bill is thrown down, replaced by yet another twenty dollar ticket.

And it’s at his point in the day when someone is actually pleased with a lottery ticket. An older woman, smiling, boasts “I’ve never played the lottery in my life. The other night I thought ‘what the heck’ and I bought a ticket.” A five hundred dollar winner. It takes a while to gather the money, but she’s happy to wait.

“You know what; give me three tickets for tonight’s game. I might as well, right?” She leaves with her tickets in hand, but she’ll lose, and she won’t play again. The man who left his cane will wait for a while, but eventually he will come to retrieve it. The woman who always argues over prices will avoid the store out of stubbornness, but even she can’t stay away from a good deal.

“Give me three tickets for tonight’s game,” a familiar voice echoes.





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