What do I do after work? Well, if I believed what I and everyone else at my place of employment says while waiting for the clock to move, I head right home. "I want to go home" is the constant refrain. The other day, Jasmin got to go home early. Less pay, yes, but work stinks so much that it's actually better to lose a few dollars than to endure a few extra hours of wage slavery. Should work be more organic? I mean, more integral to our lives, not something separate and segregated? Not a "job" we go to, but a livelihood that is a natural part of our existence? I guess I'm just talking crazy, aren't I? Forget it. The vulgar "libertarians" must be right. Us skeptics of the existing "free market" are just "beggars and losers", right Unenlightened Rogue?
So, on the day slacker Jasmin cut out early (she is pretty lazy, now that I think about it) I left work not sure what I would do, but settled on the idea of making a stop or two, because, who knows, I might find something somewhere that I need.
I have a friend who moved away a couple of years ago, to the other side of the country, basically, and I think of this friend a lot lately. Sometimes I even have the idea that my friend is still in town, and that I can go visit as I used to, and see my friend, talk to my friend, or even go to the store with my friend. I can't, of course, as my friend isn't here anymore. We talked for many months by phone and sent emails and texts, but now I don't really hear from my friend at all. Things have changed.
As I drive I go by many places I've known for years, some going back to my childhood. So many once familiar spots are now gone, however, either torn down and replaced by newer structures, or housing different establishments than the original fondly remembered ones. One old standby remains. I thought of it and on impulse took the off-ramp I rarely use anymore. At the end of the off-ramp is a stop light, and at that corner sits a very old building. The sign out front has never changed, not in 45 or 50 years (maybe longer) and I make the sharp (and somewhat dangerous, as there is a blind spot and oncoming traffic from another street that runs out into the same lanes) turn into the parking lot.
It's a quiet hour, after lunch and before the dinner crowds arrive. I get out and walk past several cars with their motors running (their drivers waiting for a companion inside to emerge with the good stuff) and climb the few beaten concrete steps to the single glass door.
Inside there has never been a remodeling (and as I look around, it doesn't even appear that the place has ever been repainted), and the tables and chairs are the same ones (you can tell, believe me) that I must have sat at many times as a child. People line up against the far wall to order, and when you arrive you can see over the counter the beef and ham ready to be carved at your demand. I only order my favorite, the beef sandwich, two of them actually, and to go in their little white paper bag, as I'm not ready right now to eat in a restaurant, even one as sparse as this, alone.
My sandwiches smell good and inside the bag along with them are two small containers of barbecue sauce. There was only one time that the bag did not contain the sauce, and that was a very disappointing day (always look inside your bag before you leave the premises).
I decide to head for home, thinking that it is comforting knowing that at least a few things stay the same and remain as they were. I drive down the main boulevard with my food beside me on the passenger seat, and look to my left at another establishment that has been around for at least as...
GONE! What was once an ancient Fosters Freeze is now another of the ubiquitous Mexican taco stands (with names that all seem to be variations of Alberto or Roberto) that line the streets and can be found every few blocks. When did this happen, I wonder? It was less than a year ago that I stopped by this place for an ice cream cone, wasn't it?
Well, my lesson was learned; never take your friends or your favorite soft-serve ice cream place for granted. And whatever you do, expect change (except when a new President of the United States is elected).