Costco fares are the pits. Negotiating my cab into the Costco parking lot on Saturday afternoon is like trying to fit a camel into a preacher’s asshole. Costco has a gas station, too, three cents cheaper than the other stations, which means if you have a 40-gallon tank, you save $1.20, a complete justification for parking lot warfare. My truck’s bigger than your truck! Fuck you! Move up, what you waiting for, Christmas? You stole my hose!

99 percent of the time when I find my Costco fare, it’s a punchy grandma wearing a Trump hat wanting to go five bucks down the road with her 90-pack of chicken thighs and 200 rolls of butt-wipes. This time it was a mid-aged woman who had lost her keys in the parking lot. She had unlocked her $60,000 Mercedes, loaded all her crap in there, and then lost her keys. White mushroom face Elmer-glued onto a Michelin Man body. She was with a friend, almost a twin. The keys had simply vanished. The two women were exasperated. Life sucks. How could something so terrible have happened to them? One of these Mexicans wandering around probably had something to do with it. How do so many Mexicans get Costco cards? What the flying fuck is going on with the world? My fare needed a ride home to get her spare set of keys and a ride back to Costco. 20 bucks, I figured.

On the ride to her condo, she asked me where I was from. They always ask that. They want to make sure I’m not an illegal immigrant.

I said, “Illinois.”

She said, “NO WAY! I’m from St. Louis!”

I said, “NO WAY! Last time we visited my mom in Quincy, we went to St. Louis.”

She said, “NO WAY, QUINCY? MY FRIEND LIVES IN QUINCY!”

“NO WAY!”

“YEAH, WAY.”

I said, “Well, last time I visited Quincy, we went to St. Louis with my mom and sister and went to the zoo.”

She said, “NO WAY! Last time we went to the zoo, my nephew managed to stick a baby penguin in his pocket and take it home with him. My sister didn’t realize anything had happened until she heard the bathtub water running and went to investigate. That’s when she found the baby penguin.”

I said, “NO WAY! I guess baby penguins don’t squeal like baby pigs.”

“Nope, they are very quiet. Who knew?”

“Not me.”

“I only live here part time,” she said. “When it gets too hot, we go back to St. Louis. You know, where they speak English.”

“Claro,” I said.

“What?”

“Nothing. Is this the place?”

“Yes, pull in here to my humble abode.”

Her humble abode cost more for one month than my Mexican wife’s family spent on food in a year. But there was a swimming pool nobody used; that was the important thing.

She went inside and got her spare keys and I took her back to Costco. When we got back, her friend was holding the original keys. They had somehow fallen to that shadow-spot behind the front tire. A Mexican man had helped her find them.

“And this day started so good,” she said.

“Sorry,” I said.

“It’s not your fault,” she said.

That was nice of her to admit.

“I suppose you want MONEY now,” she said to me, grumbling with her pocketbook. “18 bucks! This is highway robbery, you know.”

“Sorry,” I said.

As they got into their car, I heard her say, “God damn, mama needs a margarita!”

***

For all installments from 6 to 6, click here.

Previous installments:

  1. Traveling Mercies
  2. Next Time, Take Skyline
  3. Suicide Lane
  4. Morenci in My Rear-View Mirror
  5. A Spiritual Adventure
  6. Sonja’s Ring
  7. A Pair to Draw To
  8. Grocery Day
  9. A Day with Melanie
  10. The Hot Light
  11. Drano
  12. The Cab Knows the Way
  13. Dodi’s Luck
  14. Don’t Die Before Your Mother
  15. Bob’s Big Day
  16. Nothing But a Human Being
  17. John’s Dream
  18. God Didn’t Get Me No Weed
  19. Ramirez
  20. What’s Going to Happen to Me?
  21. Do I Look Like an Indian to You?
  22. The Maze
  23. Fun with Ruby
  24. Portrait of the Artist as a Certified Loony
  25. Turn Around, Dumbass
  26. Red Bull Blues
  27. The Great Desert Palms Escape
  28. Bitcoin
  29. At Least it Isn’t Raining
  30. Marshmallows on Everything
  31. Mermaid with Doctor’s Mask
  32. My Other Jacket
  33. Late
  34. The Hideaway
  35. You Can Have a Seat, Sir
  36. Book People
  37. 112 Degrees