Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Paging Doctors Benson & Hedges . . .

On this last day of 2008, I am sitting in the parking lot of the doctor's office in Salem AR, writing this post out longhand so I can type it in later.

I've completed all my errands that I could while my mother visits the doctor. It's awfully cost-ineffective to have to go visit the doctor just to get your prescriptions refilled, but that's just one more of the Way Things Are.

I've decided to try once again to quit smoking tonight. I want my last pack to be a good one, so I drove all over Thayer this morning looking for a pack of Benson & Hedges menthol 100's. No B&H of any kind to be found anywhere.

At Walmart, the final place I looked, they didn't have any either. They used to carry them; I wonder why they don't anymore.

I realized I would have to settle for something else, so I had the Cigarette Cashier Woman at Wally World grab me a pack of Salem 100's. When I got home with them, I found in little tiny print at the top of the front of the pack the words "Slim Lights." Ugh. I'm smoking one now. Ugh.

By 9:00 it was time to get ready for our trip to Salem. I decided to look for Benson & Hedges there. When I lived in & around Salem, you could find Benson & Hedges anywhere and everywhere.

I had to plan carefully, though. I only had twenty bucks and some pocket change on me, and I wanted to go to Glencoe and buy sausage, buy a newspaper, go to the Dollar General for two 6-packs of ramen and two $1.45 cans of soup for my Armageddon Stash, and top off with gas.

I made it to Glencoe and bought my two packs of sausage. It came to just under eight bucks. On the way, I passed first the Shell station, then the CITGO. Gas was three cents a gallon cheaper than in Thayer at both. On the way back, after stopping at the newspaper office, I drove past both to go to the grocery store, a place I KNOW used to ALWAYS carry Benson & Hedges.

Not anymore, apparently. I should have given up then and got my second choice, Camel Menthol Wides, but I just KNEW there had to be some B&H at one of the gas stations. I went to Shell first (that's White Oak Station for all you Salem longtimers) and topped off with gas there, because at least until January 20th, America is not as Communist as Hugo Chavez.

It only held .7 gallons. That couldn't be right; I had filled up in Thayer the day before and had gotten then, according to my figures, a dismal 13 mpg, nowhere near my usual 17 or 18. I wondered if someone had siphoned out a couple of gallons.

But now you're gonna tell me it ran 41.5 miles on 7/10ths of a gallon? According to the calculator on my cellphone, that's more than 59 mpg! Either we had one helluva tailwind or the pump kicked off too early (which I doubt because I couldn't force anymore gas into the tank).

I went inside and paid my just over a buck and asked if they carry Benson & Hedges.

"Sorry, no."

So I drove ALL the way back out to Hugo Chavez's CITGO. They didn't carry them, either. I gave up and got the Camel Wides. And they cost me almost a buck more than they would have if I'd bought them at the grocery store in the first place.

You just watch; after I quit, there will be Benson & Hedges tempting me everywhere cigarettes are sold.

I did a quick cash inventory and saw I had enough left for my soup and ramen, and headed to the Dollar General. Then a quick stop at the charity store, where I bought an Old Style beer glass for a quarter.


Back at home now. Mom got finished at the Doctor's office and we went out to eat for lunch at a place I used to frequent in high school for the video games, the 62 Dairy Freeze. There aren't any more video games there, and the marquee out front now says "For Sale By Owner."

We both had the salad bare. Mine had a little lettuce, some mushrooms, cheese, olives, ham cubes, bacon bits, and low-fat ranch dressing, with some pickled okra on the side, and an unsweet iced tea.

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