Tonight, I felt lucky. I felt really lucky. The Beast agreed, so we set off to find some lottery tickets. A constant number player, I often purchase tickets. I am convinced I will win. Most people sing with the shampoo bottle in the shower; I practice calling the lottery office. If I was an addict, gambling would be it - this is to say I always feel lucky.
We lumbered to the convenience store, the cool air crisp on our faces and the Beast blowing through piles of leaves. We had a destination, we needed to see the Milk Man.
The first thing the Newf and I did when we moved to Toronto was to find a convenience store. Being small-town, I avoid chains like the plague, always looking for a friendly independent establishment. A buddy-buddy business is always best; it provides friendly chit chat and service is always better when you are a consistent, loyal customer.
It didn't take us long to find our store of choice. One walk, on a warm spring day, found us our man. There, sitting in a lawn chair, stretched out in the sun, and smoking a cigar was the owner of Sun Milk Convenience. The man, later to be dubbed the Milk Man, looked up from his cigar and went nuts. "Ohhhhhhhhh! What a big puppy! Oh, you a big boy, you a big boy!" he excitedly exclaimed as he outright kissed the dog.
This guy was weird; we were sold.
Every warm day thereafter you could find the Milk Man, sunning himself next to his umbrella, cigar in hand. The umbrella doesn't offer much protection from the sun, the Milk Man always sits next to the contraption. Instead, this pole offers the perfect place to tie up your pooch. Somedays there will be a bunch of dogs, in differing shapes and sizes, all tied to the same pole. Lord help us when they all decide to run.
Every day we pass this little store we have a quick chat and the Beast gets a little French love.
So, it was a given that I would stop here for our lottery binge. Being late October it was chilly I had an oversized sweatshirt, warm vest (plaid of course) and reindeer toque plunked on top of my wet hair. I was dressed appropriately for poop scooping. The Beast was left, tied up to the umbrella pole, and I waited for my chance at the counter.
When I got up to the counter my cheery conversation and ticket request was shot down. "You have ID?" the Milk Man said, calmly but firmly.
"Oh, no, I am sorry, I don't!"
"Oh, no ticket then;" the Milk Man responded, face flat and hands motioning to reiterate that he was closed for business to minors.
"Oh dear, I come by all the time," I replied, hoping to avoid the walk back home (I really felt lucky). I wracked my brain for something recognizable, "I have the big black dog!"
The Milk Man did not look impressed. He held his ground.
The line was growing in the small store, so I shot a smile his way and went out to get the Beast. Now, our dog is a good one; he doesn't eat the Jos Louis on the bottom rack nor does he jump on people. He is friendly, but he is BIG. When you get him into a small store, filled with people, he just doesn't belong. Normally I wouldn't bring the Beast in a store, especially one that had food, but this was an emergency.
The Milk Man took one look and lit up, "Oh! Oh, oh, OH!" He knew who we were, and he knew he'd seen my ID before.
The Beast was escorted back outside and I took my place at the back of the line. When I reached the counter the Milk Man put his hand on my shoulder, head down. "How old are you?" he asked.
"I'm twenty-six," I said hesitantly, wondering if this was a trick question.
The Milk Man burst out laughing. Face red and cheeks full he yelled (loud enough he made the woman behind me jump), "Oh! You look SO YOUNG!"
I bought my lottery tickets. I love the Milk Man.
Do you have any commercial loyalties? Any favourite stores, brand name or family run?
Enjoying my youth,