Saturday, March 19, 2011

Girl Scout Cookies, Free Coffee, and Karma

Yesterday I swung through town on my way to hook up with some friends for an evening of live music and stopped at the grocery store to grab one of my favorite hot sandwiches. I entered the store, turned for the deli and walked right past two young girls sitting at a table selling Girl Scout cookies. It didn’t register at first, but I didn’t get far when I was stopped by a memory.

Some years ago my friend Charlie and I where heading home from a bird dog field trial in Tennessee. It was around this time of year, early March, and though no one is ever in a hurry to leave the warm breeze and welcoming quail plantations of the Cumberland Plateau for the cold and snow of northern Minnesota, we were anxious to have the miles behind us.

We were driving a one-ton diesel and pulling a 30-foot horse trailer loaded with three horses, nine English setters, and two pointers. The radio was warning of a winter storm moving in from the north when we pulled into one of those mega truck stops somewhere in Kentucky. While the fuel pump ran I went inside to fill my coffee cup and find the restrooms. Inside was a typical looking convenience store setup that I passed through and walked past a diner area where half a dozen road weary truck drivers sat at the counter having a bite to eat and talking about bad weather coming. I set my cup on the counter and when the waitress asked, “Black?” I nodded and continued down the hall. A little video arcade caught my attention to the left with its flashing lights and dinging bells. On my way back from the restroom I noticed a little girl and her mother sitting at a table filled with boxes of Girl Scout cookies. They were across from the arcade and I hadn’t seen them the first time through. I was eager to hit the road and walked right past their warm southern smiles. I was almost to the cash register when I thought “wait a minute, I’m not in that big a hurry.” Then I turned around and walked back to buy some cookies. The mother helped the little girl make change and she delivered her “thank you, sir,” with the sweetest Kentucky accent I’ve ever heard.

Up at the checkout stood a gray bearded trucker with a cowboy hat and he looked at my boxes of cookies. “I see you got yourself some cookies, me too,” he said and showed me his box of Thin Mints. “Yeah,” I replied with the first thing that came to mind, “if I’d walked by that little girl selling cookies I’d have bad luck for a week.” The gray trucker gave me a grin and a nod and turned to finish his business. The men at the counter may have overheard us or not, but at any rate six gruff truckers rose from their stools and lined up to buy some cookies from that little scout. It was a neat scene, though the poignancy didn’t strike me until later up the highway, but when I went to pay for my coffee the smiling waitress offered, “Why don’t you have a donut with that coffee, on the house!” Charlie and I drove north, missed the worst of the storm, and enjoyed a good trip home munching Kentucky bought Girl Scout cookies.

Needless to say, yesterday in the store I did an “about face” and strolled back to buy myself some cookies from those young girl scouts.