Say it with me, gentle reader: nine different hot dog toppings!
I leaned against the counter inside a local Tiger Mart convenience store and nearly fell to the ground.
It wasn’t because it was slippery or anything (or that I was slippery either for that matter), but rather because I was so focused on the quality of their indirect lighting I missed the edge of the counter as I reached out with my hand to steady myself while I gazed aloft.
In fact, it was more than just the lighting that had me star struck. It was the cool earth tones chosen to create a more relaxed atmosphere inside. It was the availability of a sink in the shopping area that didn’t look like something from the set of a Saw movie. It was the fact that their hot dog station had nine different topping selections in temperature controlled containers next to a half dozen other condiment containers, up to and including spicy mustard.
Nine topping selections!
And the grill itself…? We’re not talking about some old school rotating broiler rack here, the kind that almost immediately develops a perpetual squeak on its carousel rack as it manages to only ever sear the top of the frank while leaving the bottom completely uncooked, oh no.
This was a straight-up Gold Medal roller grill from the award winning “Diggity Hot Dog” line. I mean where was I, the Hammacher Schlemmer of convenience stores? Was this the Saks Fifth Avenue Gas-n-Gulp?
Nine different toppings! Are you even hearing me?
Okay…I may have been over-excited about the atmosphere of the place, sure, but you have to understand that the normal office environment for your garden variety street cop is a four door car with no standing room, and worse yet, no restroom. Convenience stores have been the solution to this since we finally started getting yelled at for urinating on dumpsters and, well, other cops police car tires.
These are the places where the Academy and field training continue for the rest of our careers. Some of the most important lessons I’d learned on the job had been in the sterile (or filthy) surroundings of a now defunct Favorite Market, and besides gastrointestinal relief and continuing education, they had endless soda fountain reserves and a walk in freezer that would actually blow frozen air down the front of your shirt after working a wreck on the highway in 103 degree temperatures.
These places were more fiercely protected than the Federal Reserve, and if there was a cute sweetie working behind the counter where they would eventually hand out deep fried chicken livers and tater logs at the end of the night as they closed the kitchen? Get out!
As gorgeous as these places were to newly minted sworn officer eyes, however, they often smelled of bleach and sadness…so the gentrification of the newer designs just leaves me in awe. Six different flavors of frozen Squishee Drinks to choose from? Is the former Icee Machine now full of semi-frozen mocha flavored frozen coffee?
Before it was over, I didn’t just compare notes with four different co-workers about the recent rash of auto burglaries in the North Shore area. I didn’t just discuss techniques for promotional interview assessments while breaking (banana) bread with my polyester family members, or provide the story about the co-worker that’s the actual reason everyone is getting yelled at for driving policy violations.
Before it was over…I had a hot dog with four different toppings.
Life is good.
When officer Alexander D. Teach is not patrolling our fair city on the heels of the criminal element, he spends his spare time volunteering for the Boehm Birth Defects Center.