Just a half-mile to my house on the drive from work, in a narrow bend laden with potholes, there is a clearing in the canopy of pine and oak—a broad acreage of pavement on which a convenience store walled in peeling beige and green perches. The sky above this little nook is perpetually damp gray, but inside the smell of fried chicken and the proprietor’s, Hello ma’am, makes the day bright and pleasant. Here, once each week, I fuel up and buy the hubby’s smokes, then allow myself a moment to loiter in order to soak up the crispy chicken aroma. Never fails, I always leave thinking What Did I Forget?
To the left of the entrance is a four foot tall plastic kiosk. The top is divided into cubbies holding pink slips lined with numbers, and another cubbie holds miniature #2 pencils, choices, and wild possibilities! Imagine! $71,000 in student loans, gone. A $28,000 car loan, gone. Home ownership, travel, right there for the having! A debt-free life, a finance manager named Brie, tailored clothes and custom shoes …
Let’s not forget a modest glassed in office downtown, its gold sign emblazoned with HOW—Help Is On The Way! An office manager, events coordinator, and personal assistant always smiling because they are helping me help the struggling. We’d clean up Flint, and free the non-violent incarcerated teens of New Orleans wasting away waiting for arraignment. My team would beam as I signed into life a sheltered trust providing scholarships for aged-out foster kids, housing for the homeless, reliable appliances, warrantied sedans, and trustworthy daycare for single parents.
The lovely, creative events coordinator handpicked by yours truly would put together galas and fancy invitations for the nouveau riche to be seen with the seen doing good deeds. They would throw money willingly into pots that Brie, the finance manager, would then divide into grants for working moms to dress for success, finish their degrees, and finally replace leaky roofs. She’d allocate funds that fund free clinics, renovate convalescent homes, reopen literacy centers and hire tutors for all those Memphis kids who just need a little help with reading and math. PBS and Friends of the Library would never again lose a night’s sleep.
I would never lose a night’s sleep because my afternoons would be spent in the dreary waiting areas beneath the sign: Sign In Here If You Need Assistance With Your Utility Bill. I’d walk in there, quietly, and inform all the weary waiters there’s no need to wait, and hand them the cash needed for keeping the lights on.
Because I’m now wealthy enough to rid myself of road rage, I’d hire an unemployed driver to get me from point A to B during rush hour. We’d visit all the MLGW offices, make it rain. Then we’d go on over to the area Vo-Tech and Community College bursar’s offices. Make it rain. Not a cloud in the sky.
My immediate relations would no longer drag around mortgage chains or worry over car repairs. My immediate friends would be free of college tuition bills, and the IRS could just hunker down and suck my big toe.
If I could remember to play the lottery …