4am found me walking up my driveway to home. I had just been on my usual early morning hike and stopped by to see my favorite convenience store clerk. He was blowing the parking lot with a leaf blower as I stopped by to get a cup of coffee.
“I just put a fresh pot of coffee on for the morning crowd,” He told me after turning the blower off and following me inside after unlocking the door.
“Sorry to interrupt you,” I said as I stepped to the back counter to pour a cup.
“No, don’t worry about it,” he replied. “You gave me an excuse to quit. I hate blowing that damn parking lot.”
The clerk’s next task was to go out and wash off the gas pumps with a bucket of soapy water and a rag. I followed him outside to continue our conversation.
“Caught a shoplifter last night,” he told me as he wiped off the face of one of the pumps.
“Tell me about it,” I said taking another drink of coffee as I stood next to him.
The morning air was crisp and cool, but not uncomfortable. Not a car was on the nearby highway which would be bustling come morning as people headed to work.
“This guy walked in asking for a glass of water, handing me a Solo cup,” the clerk said, beginning his tale. “I turned to the sink to fill up his glass. As I turned my back to him, I looked at the security camera’s monitor to watch. He reached way over the counter, thinking I couldn’t see, and started grabbing and stuffing Newport cigarettes down his jacket.”
“Slick,” I replied of the shoplifter.
“We repeated the process as I got him another glass of water. I wanted to make sure he had quite a bit of cigarettes before calling the police. He walked out the door and didn’t get two blocks away until the town's finest nabbed him.”
“Well, I guess it made for an interesting night,” I said smiling.
“Oh yeah. That will make the time fly and get your adrenaline pumping,” he said. “I can’t stand shoplifters and love to catch ‘em.”
I left my ever vigilant clerk as he began to mop the floor and walked on home. I have come to enjoy these little trips into town to talk to him. We have become fast friends. I feel a certain camaraderie with him as I did his same job for over a year while in college. It is as if an old comforting routine in my life has returned.