Monday, December 06, 2004

99 Cent Dreams

There is a store in my old neighborhood called "99 Cent Dreams." Every time I saw it, I would think "99 cent dreams? Is that the best you can really do?" I mean, if you are going to dream, why not dream big? Then again, maybe it takes a while for people to work up to that. Eventually, they buy a Lotto ticket and look back fondly on the old days. I can see it now. Grandpa sitting on his rocking chair with his grandchildren crowded around him. He holds up the ticket and says "I used to have only 99 cent dreams, but I've worked hard and now I can dream of winning millions." The children would smile lovingly at him, wheel him out into the sun so that he would be warm, and then ask their parents if that's what they meant when they told them about grandpa's dementia.

I thought of this because I was in a 99 cent store on Friday night. Now I know what you are thinking. "Joe, you have so damn much money. Why do you waste your time in 99 cent stores?" It's just my way of keeping in touch with my roots. You see, during the Great Depression, a drought forced my family and I to abandon our claim in the dust bowl of Oklahoma. We piled our belongings into our battered automobile and headed for California where we, and the other "Okies," lived a nomadic existence and longed only to find a place to rest and settle. Oh, wait, that was The Grapes of Wrath. Sorry...

Anyway, as I started to say, I was with someone who wanted to pick up a few Christmas decorations, so we stopped into 99 cent store. After wandering the aisles for a few moments, we went to the register to pay for the merchandise. As we waited, two clerks from the store conducted a heated conversation. Apparently, both were upset that the person who had been manning the register left without informing them. The woman who took over as cashier as particularly vexed. Of course, her indignance at this lapse in customer service was somewhat undermined by the fact that she continued to ignore the customers on line while she complained. As she vented, she switched back and forth between English and Spanish. "Ah," I thought, "she's probably switching to Spanish because she doesn't want the customers to hear her complaining about her co-worker." About a second later, I realized that I was probably the only one there who didn't understand Spanish, and so I felt like an ass for even thinking that.

On an unrelated note, has anyone else noticed how much smaller Dunkin Donuts have become? At the same time, Munchkins have remained the same size. For those of you who don't know, Munchkins are the snacks they make using the dough punched out of the center of the doughnut. This means that the size of the hole has remained the same, even though the doughnuts have shrunken. I watched someone eat one in about two seconds the other day. At first, I thought the person must have been starving, but then I ate one and realized that it only took about two bites to finish it.

Okay, time to get to work.