Today’s tale is titled: The Meet Cute
An old Jeep truck zipped down the highway. Red, noisy and from the early 80s, it is full of personality. The owner has not personal affects clearly visible. He’s talking on his cell phone, a ball cap hangs just above his eyes and I’m pretty sure he has head phones dangling around his neck that will be placed back in his ears as soon as the phone call is over. I should be terrified of this Jeep with a flatbed back (I had to look it up, turns out this was a Jeep Gladiator), but as it pulls ahead and zips further down the highway I lose my fear of the obviously dangerous driver. In the truckbed, swirling around in that pocket of air that forms when the hatch is closed and speeds are just right, a receipt is dancing around. It was bit like that American Beauty scene with the plastic bag; so unbearably boring but you can’t look away (I did look away, I was driving on the highway after all). I had to know what that receipt was for.
The driver had just one personal embellishment on the car, a window decal that said “JEEP”. It complemented the giant letters on the truck hatch that read “JEEP”, so the guy apparently has an eye for minimalist design. The car is meticulously clean, well maintained and shows no signs of a human’s presence. The owner knows everything that goes in and out of this car. The rest of the truck bed was empty when it drove by, so the receipt is out of character. For one piece of paper to be left in the truckbed, that paper is of special significance.
The receipt appears to be nothing special. It has ads on the back and is rather long. Probably a grocery store receipt from the look of it, still wanting to roll in on itself, but a little crease in the middle is preventing that. The cashier folded it, informed him of the savings made by using his customer card, gave a little smile and handed it over wishing him a happy day ahead. The driver smiled back, said thanks, stuffed the receipt in his pocket, and walked out of the store.
The parking lot was covered with snow that day, plows had not yet come through and even if they had it would have been difficult navigating around the cars in the lot. He wore his Carhartt branded boots, popped the collar on his bulky camouflage jacket and stepped into his truck. He went to start it, but his keys were nowhere to be found. He cursed and climbed out of the truck to retrace his steps.
Traipsing back through the snowy lot he looked everywhere for the keys. A Budweiser keychain, bright blue and always reliable for opening a bottle, should have been easy to spot in the snow but he found himself getting nearer and nearer the store. He was not excited to go back through the aisles; not on a Saturday morning just as the old people were heading inside. He wouldn’t wish that on his worst of enemies.
“Sir,” a voice called to him. He was still looking down, but had a feeling the voice was for him.
“Sir, I think you left your keys at my register,” the voice continued.
He looked up and saw the cashier. She smiled, held out his keys and laughed.
“Hey, those, uh, those are my keys, thanks. Thanks,” he had never been flustered before.
She looked at him over, still carrying that little smile on her lips and pulled a pen from her apron.
“You still have that receipt?” She asked. He handed it over.
“Tell you what, if you ever lose your keys again, I am pretty good at finding them, call me,” she wrote down her phone number and handed the receipt back to the driver. She clicked her pen and turned back to the store.
The driver called her later that day. The did not stop talking for a week. They are talking right now as he speeds down the highway.
He kept that receipt in the safest place he knew; his truck.
As the truck barrels down the highway, the wind is whipping the receipt around and the driver is deep in conversation with a girl he thinks will one day be his bride. The receipt dances and twists until finally it escapes the vortex in the truck bed and flies onto the road. Its purpose fulfilled, the token will be remembered fondly when the couple tells the tale of their first meeting decades from now.
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