The good news is coffee is still 49¢ and a copy of the daily News & Record sits mornings on the table. The bad news is the price of regular after holding steady at $3.39 for three weeks has joined the rest of the stations in the area at $3.49. Should have filled up yesterday,
This particular Shell Station is a good place to walk to in the morning. The people come and go here, trade stories, buy lottery tickets, coffee, donuts and groceries.
It is not your ordinary gas station/convenience story. There is a down-home family feel. No large, glass-doored refrigeration units with racks of sodas. Here the sodas sit in large tubs of ice.
"The payoff," says the woman behind the counter, "is in summer. You can't get sodas that cold anywhere but here!"
The atmosphere is friendly. "How's my favorite customer?" the woman asks as a man with a slight limp walks in. "How's my favorite clerk?" he replies, and aks for a pack of cigarettes. "Gotta see your ID," she says. "Again?" "Again. Same as always." "Hell of a country we're coming to," he says.
Just outside and behind the Shell Station there is a mobile home. Three small dogs and a small girl greet me as I walk by. A timid dogs approaches very slowly. "His name us Petey," beams the girl, quickly adding. "My cat got killed."
She doesn't say how. She leads me to the side of the house to a freshly dug grave, pulls back sod to show me the dead cat, but the grave is empty.
"Maybe coyotes," says mom, who is standing on the porch. "I seen you before in the store," she says to me. "I work there behind the counter."
"Yes, I know," I say. She is the brunette. The other woman is the blonde. "It's a friendly place," I tell her.
"We try to be," she says. "We really do. It's what we're selling."
I wave to the small family and move on.