So, in March I retire officially from scheduled shifts, making anytime I work “guest appearances.” It sounds good–I like it, people smirk. All good.
Tonight: magic hour, 6 pm. Universal din-din time. Not bad. Crew is solid 3 out of 4, old-school dynamics in play, lots of synergy. Media and pop-culture references a’plenty. Time passes quickly. Job #1 wears me out, as nobody realizes that (most of us) we are all in it to help people. Thus, all efforts post-Job #1 should be filed under “extraordinary effort,” although it does not count for anything.
Then: eight o’clock, the final power hour. Easy orders. Easy smiles. A half-hour in, a couple comes in. They’re into each other, best-friend style, and it’s refreshing. Automatically, it’s Ashley and me by association.
Guy: youngish, semi-afro, REI shirt. Girl: tech gear, Pacific-Islander look. Neither are Yinzers, and it’s obvious. They order a local beer and a double IPA, split a sandwich, and I think, “This is not the normal run of things.”
I get distracted by a few orders, then, after craning my neck for a better view of the parking lot, I ask Dana what beer they ordered. Parked slightly out of view out front is a maroon first-generation MDX, loaded for adventure. Bike tires peer out from the rear hatch, while a massive, overstuffed soft luggage bag strapped up top partially obscures a surfboard. The rear suspension sags under the weight of their cargo, and I realize that this is no ordinary road trip.
I place two beer bottles in a 6-lb bag, and write “Happy Trails!” in the middle as I tape it shut. I wait a little more than ten minutes for the couple to pack up, and then I walk around the corner and smile, placing the bag in front of them, saying sincerely, “I noticed your MDX is ready for adventure, and I can’t wait for mine to be. Good luck, and happy trails.”
Guy: (genuine, deep smile) “Aw, thanks, man! That’s really nice of you. We’re halfway there.”
Me: “I hope your adventures are everything they should be. Best of luck!”
They threw away their trash, smiled warmly and waved as they left. I watched them back out, then smiled at the gentle rocking of the Acura’s suspension as they drove out of the plaza parking lot.
I thought about how every (single) day is another chance at happiness.