This happened a few mornings back. I was out of eggs and the Walgreens on Madison Avenue in Covington was really handy for me to go and pick up half a dozen. The mistake I made was sitting down on one of those bus benches in front of the store and smoking a cigarette before going in. I should have noticed the guy sitting next to me.
He was bald, a little heavy, kind of short and wore glasses that were crooked on his round face. Forgive me, but he looked like a nut job.
“You got an extra cigarette?” he asked. I’ve lost track of how many times I’ve been asked this while sitting on one of those benches. I replied, “No.”
“What you doing up here?” he asked. Really, it was none of his business.
“Going into Walgreens,” I replied.
“You are?” Yet another question. “Hey you think you could get me a can of mixed nuts?”
“A can of mixed nuts,” he said. “I love them.”
“You got money?”
Of course he didn’t. What a stupid question. He wanted me to buy the nuts for him.
“I don’t know if they have any,” I said.
“Oh, they do!” the man replied. “I was just in there looking at the cans of them. They have this deal—buy a can, get one free.”
“So I would give you a can and keep the other can for myself?” I asked.
“Yeah, that’s great,” the man said. “See how this works out for us?”
I could see how this works out for him. I put the money out and he gets free nuts. I wasn’t in the mood to do this. I finished my cigarette and got up from the bus bench.
“So, you gonna get those nuts?” the man asked.
“I’ll look for them,” I said.
And I did look for them. The guy was right—buy one can of mixed nuts and get the other one free. It was a pretty good deal, but I wasn’t going to buy the guy nuts. He was nuts—a nut job. Screw him. I got my eggs, paid for them and left Walgreens.
Walking past the bus benches, there was the man looking at me.
“Did you get my nuts?” he asked as I walked by.
“They were out,” I said. The man said something else to me but I kept walking paying no attention to him. I just wanted to get home with my eggs.
Later on in the day, I started thinking about those mixed nuts. Thanks to the man on the bus bench, I was now hungry for them. I decided to walk back up to Walgreens.
I went to pick up the mixed nuts. There was only one can left. How could this be? Did somebody just get one can and not the other? Did somebody just want to get one can only and screw the bargain?
I walked back home without purchasing the one can they had left. I felt deflated.
If you’re looking for a moral to this story, there probably isn’t one but I will say this: If I had just purchased those mixed nuts like the man wanted earlier in the day, he wouldn’t be hungry for them and I wouldn’t be either. Maybe he wasn’t nuts after all. Maybe the nut job was me.