I was buying a sugar-free Red Bull (I'm so Britney Spears, right? Only less pregnant.) at the Mapco at Harding Rd. and Kenner, and while I was in line I snagged a New York Times from the bin. Diagonally in front of me was a woman scatching off her freshly purchased lottery tickets right there at the counter. Directly in front stood a young man holding a slip of paper. He handed it over to the cashier.
"This is a ten dollar ticket," said the graying man behind the register. He wore a smock and a look of sheer contempt. He waited for the young man to speak.
"Naw, that's a five and a five. Five for this week, five for next week," the guy finally said. So the chashier took the slip and looked it over again, then went to his computer. It was about this time that the woman scratching her lottery tickets at the counter decided she needed to leave. So she just turned around and nearly ran me over without so much as an "excuse me" or a look in my direction--nothing. I tipped off balance and grabbed the candy rack to keep from stumbling. The two men in line behind me laughed at the abusrdity of this situation.
The cashier had finished studying the slip, so he handed back to the guy he was waiting on. "That is a ten dollar ticket," the cashier repeated.
"No, it's a five and a five. One is a five for this week's drawing and one is a five for next week's drawing," the young man repeated. It was as if they were speaking different languages and neither one of them had ever taken a math class. "See, five and five," the customer said as if that clarified everything.
"FIVE AND FIVE IS TEN!," yelled the cashier in frustration.
It was about that time that the gentleman in line behind me caught my attention with a stretchy bracelet he'd pulled off a display right next to him. The bracelet said INTELLIGENCE on it and with both hands the man tugged each side making the word INTELLIGENCE expand and contract.
I laughed loudly until I realized tempers were flaring and I might get punched. The man behind me put the bracelet away and grabbed my work badge that was hanging off the car keys in my fist.
"News 2, huh? I was wondering why you were reading The Times," he said.
"Nobody reads the newspaper," I said. "So that is how we do it in TV news, we steal their stories."
He laughed. By that time the guy in front of me had settled the 5+5=10 debate with the cashier and it was my turn to pay. If it weren't for the Tennessee lottery I would totally miss out on coversations like that one.