March 12, 2023 Comments Off on Hoover

I used to avoid strange people when I traveled. They scared me, especially the overly friendly ones. “What does he want?” I’d wonder. “Nothing good.”

But not anymore. They can’t be any stranger than I am.

I was about to enter the little shop for a quart of milk when a man exited. He was short, had a big black mustache, and was wearing a sweatshirt that said “Martha’s Vineyard.”

“Hey!” he said. “Where you from?”

“Los Angeles.”

“What you doing here?”

He had a point. The little town’s streets were all dirt and it was hardly a travel Mecca. “Just passing through.”

“What you shopping for?”


He spun on his heel and walked back in. “Veronica! Get him some milk!”

“You work here?” I asked.

“No, but I’m friends with everybody.”

Veronica smiled. “We don’t have any milk left.”

“That’s okay!” my friend said. “We’ll go find some!”

Off we marched, him leading the way. “My name is Hoover. Like the President and the vacuum cleaner. And the barrio in Los Angeles. You know it?”

“I do.”

“How old are you?”


“I’m fifty-eight! How long you staying?”

“Just one night.”

We chatted and walked for a long way. Then we came to a grocery store and went in. I got milk and two packages of Kit-Kats. “You want anything?” I asked him.

“Sure!” We walked around the store and he got a cup of instant ramen, some orange juice, and a bag of chips.

At the turnoff to my motel we parted company. “See you!” He said with a smile and a wave.



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