Friday, October 30, 2009

McKinney's Market

Lately Craig, Steve and I have been contemplating the possibility of retirement, and have decided it is just not in the cards for us. As our dear old dad, "Duke", says about work, "I'll be here until they haul me out feet first!" Mom replies, "If that's the case, you're on your own!" Obviously a consensus has not been reached. Some people work to retire, while others work to live. If our parents cannot reach an accord soon it might cost our father a good woman, or at least a bump on the head.

Barry @ Twin Rocks Trading Post.

Duke and Rose's decision is one of choice, not necessity. Not so with us. As a result of the times in which we live, and the commitment we have made to Twin Rocks Trading Post and Cafe, my brothers and I have concluded that, unless there is divine intervention, we are truely "tied to the post".

That said, I have been considering how to approach our position with some sense of decorum. In other words, we are in need of a comfortable, yet manageable, approach to "hanging around". While considering our options, I was reminded of an interesting experience I had after working a trade show in Gatlinburg, Tennessee. Years ago, the Smoky Mountain Gift Show was a venue we took advantage of to share American Indian arts and crafts with the rest of the country. On one particular trip, I attended the show with my sister Cindy. While there, Cindy became seriously ill and had to bow out of the breakdown and clean up. We later discovered she was pregnant with Tarrik, and was reacting poorly to her introduction to gravidity. Friends took her to Ashville to rest and wait for our flight home. I packed up the show, contacted the freight company about shipping the containers home and promptly left the building.

Just before leaving town I realized the car was in need of gasoline, so I wheeled the rental into McKinney's Market, which is located at the intersection of the Great Smoky Mountain Parkway and the Historic Nature Trail. Exiting the vehicle, I discovered the pumps were not programmed to accept credit cards. Taking a chance, I lifted the nozzle from its cradle and tilted the lever. The pump surged to life, so I filled the tank and headed inside to pay. I smiled inwardly as I told myself there are still trusting people in the world. I remember thinking it might also be that or sheriff Buford T. Pusser was on hand to run down anyone attempting to gas and go. About that time, I noticed a set of double glass doors at the entrance of the building. When I pulled on the left side, which was covered with a blizzard of local fliers, it seemed blocked. All indications pointed to the conclusion that the right door was the only available access, so I heaved it open and stepped inside the store.

Upon entering, I noticed an attractive young lady standing behind a counter, which was situated immediately to my left. Turning toward her, I nearly fell over an antiquated woman perched in a lounge chair just behind the left door. I apologized vehemently, but received only a disdainfully raised eyebrow in return. Backing off a bit, I surveyed the situation and found an eighty-something, well-fed woman stretched out in a Lazy Boy chair which was elevated on a 6" high pine dais. She was casually dressed in wool slacks, black boots, an over-sized purple sweater and a plaid shirt jacket. The old girl wore a heavily wrinkled exterior; had intelligent blue eyes; and sported short, well managed shoulder-length gray hair. She gnawed less than delicately on either a baseball player sized wad of bubblegum or an unhealthy chunk of chewing tobacco. Her outward manifestation made it clear she did not much care for the opinions of others.

As I looked her over, she stared back at me with a contemptuous expression on her furrowed brow. The young woman wore an apologetic look. "That will be $14.50", she said, as if to more quickly conclude the transaction. I moved forward again, steering clear of the lounging woman's faux leather boots. Because of the close proximity of the staring woman on my left and a rack of potato chips on my right, this maneuver was rather uncomfortable. I felt like a bull being herded into a cattle chute. I nervously stepped into the narrow gap and was struck with an epiphany. Turning back to the lounger, I said, "You are Mrs. McKinney, aren't you?" "Damn Right!" she shot back as she switched her chaw from one cheek to the other. "Nice to meet you ma'am," I said respectfully. "Yup!" said Mrs. McKinney, as if I had been slow on the uptake. The young woman smiled sweetly, took my money and said, "Thank you very much sir. Ya'll have a good one." "You un's too." I said in my best Southern drawl. Tipping my head respectfully to Mrs. McKinney, I left the store and proceeded to Ashville.

As I think about it now, lounge chairs might be solution to my retirement dilemma. There are two sides to the cash register in the trading post; one for me and one for Steve. Personally, I am partial to distressed leather. There are also double glass doors at the cafe; plenty of room for Craig to place an overstuffed chair, just like Mrs. McKinney. All we need to do is take up chewin' and cussin'. Laurie would agree that I am well on my way to perfecting such an existence. All I can say is "Damn right!"

With Warm Regards,
Barry, Steve and the Team.

Copyright 200 Twin Rocks Trading Post

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