Trailer Joe’s is a really terrible place. There is nothing there to eat, or rather, there is nothing there to cook with. Everything looks healthy and tasty, and it seems reasonably priced because of the cheap, intentionally thrown-together look. But when you get down to it, it is almost exclusively prepackaged food, overpriced, and as bland as bland can possibly be. This makes sense, because the target market is people who want to seem healthy, and who want to seem like they are preparing food from scratch, when they in fact are just as overweight, inactive, and dependent on the microwave as the people who shop at Safeway.
The one thing that Trailer Joe’s gets right though is its employees. People there are friendly, happy, they work hard, they know what is in the store, and they don’t get a sour look when you interrupt them to ask “Where are the pinto beans?”
That is in fact what I asked last night when I popped in to pick up milk, butter, and bacon. A friend once asked me if I am a vegetarian. “Yes, as long as bacon is a vegetable.”
Anyway, the reason that I was in Trailer Joe’s is because my father had given me a $100 gift card for my birthday, and they have cheaper milk and cheaper butter than I can get at the local grocery store.
The other things on my list I could completely forget about because there was no way in hell that Trailer Joe’s could help. Uncooked pinto beans? You must be crazy. All they have is shit in a can. Tomato paste? You must be crazy. All they have is… well, they don’t have anything that might substitute for tomato paste. Peppers? Sure if you want half a dozen jalapeños. But forget it if you just want a couple of loose peppers for seasoning. Anyway, I got what I needed and went to the checkout.
The checkout dude’s name tag said Julian. He looked at me with my rolled up pant cuff and backpack, and smiled. “Did you have a good ride?”
“Man, they are all good rides. Ever since I got rid of my car and ride my bicycle everywhere, it’s nothing but good rides. Even the shitty ones.”
He laughed and nodded his head. “Yeah, it’s amazing how much energy you waste, mental energy, just looking for a parking spot, and then getting pissed off when someone takes your space. It’s only when you have a bicycle that you start to wonder what in the world does it mean to call something ‘your’ parking space? I ride a bike, too.”
“Yeah. That’s it parked right outside the front door it’s chained to that sign it’s the green and tan one. I ride it everywhere. I gave up a car a long time ago. They are dumb.”
I loaded up my pack, which with the milk weighed a solid 15 pounds. Butter and bacon and some carrots and celery, they add up, along with a jacket and a sweater and a cap. As I walked outside I looked at his bike. It was quite beautiful. It had a big basket on the front with a very pretty kind of leather decorative covering. And it had a rack on the back, and it had what I would call an almost intentionally distressed look. I say intentionally distressed because at first glance the bike looked kind of ratty but when you looked at it again you saw it was immaculate. The spokes were polished, the leather seat was burnished, and there wasn’t a speck of grime on the chain.
That dude really loves his bike, I thought. I shouldered my heavy backpack and rode home in the dark. The headlight cut a narrow white beam through the darkness.
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