Convenience stores make me happy.
Admittedly, it’s an odd affinity for a girl who eschews consumerism in all its bar coded-ubiquity. As a pseudo-minimalist, I try my best to limit purchases to things that bring me value.
So you’d think the STUFFiness of your average quickie mart would irk me.
It doesn’t. Its effect is just the opposite. When I see the neon glow of a 7-Eleven sign, I get the warm fuzzies. My heart swells with a cozy sense of cheer. It’s like Christmas Eve caroling or Thanksgiving dinner; like holding hands with a new boyfriend or being sandwiched in the middle of a group hug.
Convenience stores make me feel secure. The way some folks feel about their childhood bedroom or therapist’s couch, I feel about a 7-Eleven. Or a Lion’s. Or a Love’s. Or a Quick Stop. I’m not brand-loyal. They all give me happy goosebumps.
There’s something about their eternal availability. The Sam to my Frodo, they’re always waiting, eager to assist. They’re standing at the ready to provide hot coffee at 2 a.m., toilet paper when I’ve just run out, lottery tickets when I’m feeling lucky, Twizzlers when I need a junk food fix.
There’s something so enticing about shelves lined with canned soups and cat litter and ketchup; refrigerator cases full of plastic-wrapped sandwiches and frozen burritos and fruit cups; cherry Slurpees and Zodiac sign lighters; eight varieties of salted nuts and chips in every size, shape, color and flavor; rainbow-hued scratch offs and single doses of ibuprofen; candy from my childhood — Bottle Pops and Big League Chew and Fun Dip.
It’s all so charmingly unnecessary and simultaneously, just what I might need.
There’s something very American about the magical excess involved in 24-hour shopping. But that’s what makes convenience stores so damn special. They’re fluorescent lit jewels in our national crown — symbols of prosperity and shelter and freedom. Maybe that’s why I love them so … it’s my all-American birthright.
In the grand scheme of my shopping habits, convenience stores play a minor role. But more than anything, it’s the idea of them that makes me happy — the mere fact that they exist is enough.
In the words of Sarah in Labyrinth, “I don’t know why, but every now and again in my life – for no reason at all – I need you.” That’s how I feel about a 7-Eleven. Every now and again, I need it, and it’s always there, shiny and bright, awaiting my arrival with Sprite Zero and Stacey’s Pita Chips at hand.