Tales From the Dollar General: Andy
A random encounter
I think quite a bit about randomness. Specifically, the randomness we experience as we bumble about our lives day to day, some of us in the sincere belief that God is watching us. He does seem to allow us to make rather a lot of false starts and left turns, many of which don’t seem to fit into any vast, eternal plan. Sometimes this is painful and devastating. Sometimes it’s just an oddity, a loose end.
I was thinking about this last week in the car, as I realized with growing annoyance that I had overshot an intersection. It’s an intersection I know, that I’ve passed numerous times as I putter around in the tiny Michigan town I currently call home. The sort of town where, if you miss the intersection that takes you to what passes for a “downtown,” you will quickly find yourself barreling down a country road with no convenient place to turn around.
I was already running late, after underestimating the amount of time it would take to thoroughly de-snow/de-ice my car. But this guaranteed I would be hopelessly late. To compound the ridiculousness, I finally reached the bank “location” I’d chosen for my appointment, only to realize it was an ATM machine. (Yes, I know. I seem quite put together on Substack, but I’m afraid the truth is much darker. My only defense is that I’ve never visited this particular bank in this particular town before.)
I rescheduled the appointment, in a parking lot near the ATM. I would be able to get my account in order with Bruce next morning. Most likely the promotional interest deal I was trying to hop on would still be there. All would be well.
Still, as I wended my way back, I idly wondered if this tiny misadventure had a point, besides teaching me to be more practical about keeping bank appointments. It was benignly random, but still, it seemed random. Just another little left turn on the road of life, literally.
I had a little shopping to do at the Dollar General. For those unfamiliar, the Dollar General is something of an institution in your average depressed Midwestern town. But this particular Dollar General has been gamely trying to elevate itself. After some modifications last year, they now boast a wall full of frozen foods, a modest selection of fresh vegetables, and a somewhat nicer checkout counter. Speaking as a single woman who cooks like a bachelor half the time, I’m content. It’s good for staple stuff, TV dinners, apples and tomatoes, and those cute little paper plates you buy when you need to feed a bunch of kids. There’s no fresh meat, granted, but I only occasionally have to make little trips “into town” to buy boneless skinless chicken thighs at Meijer.
Meanwhile, speaking as a writer, the people-watching is much more fun. As I was about to be reminded.