Jeff Smith 4 p.m., March 30
Downtown. Drifting. Desperate.
Three buckeroos in my pocket and I’ve got nothing to take home to the beautiful Carla, and I promised I’d bring her a late nite snack. And I’ve got seven minutes till the bus.
Lawdie. I’m at 3rd and Broadway. Should I? Could I? Do I have any choice?
No. So I whip across Broadway to the, uh, 7-Eleven (1010 Second Avenue #100a at Broadway and Second, 619-237-9853).
I know. Mighty chain, the kudzu grass of convenience stores. Where you go to get your Twinkie Bar Defense. But right now, when a man is so down on time and dinero, no choice.
This is where I have my – what’s it called? “Any port in a storm” moment. I lunge into the hot dog section.
“Quarter pound Big Bite, 100 percent beef, load it your way, $1.99.”
Or better: Big Bite regular, $1.39. Or even better: Big Bite x 2. Special. Two Big Bite regular dawgs, $2.29 .
Honestly, this is going to save my bacon.
Lotta late-nite people behind me champing at the bit, but the guy at the counter stays cool, puts on plastic surgery gloves and hauls out two buns, two boxes, two dogs from the heated roller section, and charges me $2.47, with tax.
I rush to the fixin’s section, (it looks pretty clean)...
...and pile on chopped onion, tomatoes, mayo, mustard, and relish for me...
Man. Here, I have me a meal.
Carla doesn’t like relish, but hers still looks pretty good.
I haul out, over Broadway, and hey hey! Up rolls ye old Stretch Limo, right on time.
So, can’t resist googling 7-Eleven on the way home. Wow. World’s largest convenience store operator. Bigger than McDonald’s by 1,000 stores. Has 39,000 of them worldwide. Is - wow again! - Japanese-owned. Seven & I Holdings.
But it started in Dallas, Texas. A guy named Joe C. Thompson got the idea in the little ice house where he worked for the Southland Ice Company. Back in 1927.
He jes’ decided to start selling eggs, milk and bread. People liked it, because the ice all around kept them fresh. Long story short, a few years later, Joe ended up buying the ice company, called it Southland Corporation, opened up other ice’n eggs stores around Dallas, and called them 7-Eleven, because that was the hours they stayed open every day. Nobody else did in those days, seems.
’Course, by the sixties they were starting to stay open 24/7, but they kept the name.
In the eighties they were huge, got in financial trouble and ended up being bought out by their largest franchisee, Ito-Yokado, which formed Seven & I Holdings in the early ’90s.
I look in the li’l red box at my hot dog. Who knew the saga behind the dawg? Still giving off heat. They say it’s an Oscar Mayer. And when Carla and I open ’em up at home - maybe it’s the Whew! factor, like, walked away from another one, or the late night - but world’s largest corp. or not, these dawgs are deee-lish.
I’m starting to appreciate: You can’t beat convenience.
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