Thursday, May 19, 2005

Wee Hour Encounters

It’s been another one of those nights of which I have too many these days. After chairing a meeting last night and completing the follow-up to it, I went to bed at 1:30 this morning. By 4:00 a.m. I still wasn’t asleep, so I got up.

What does one do when sleep won’t come? I decided to replenish my depleted supply of cigarettes. (Please don’t tell me what I already know: I shouldn’t smoke).

My trip to the only place nearby—a drug store--that is open and sells cigarettes resulted in one of those brief meetings that the Existentialists used to say make up so much of our lives. The clerk at the drug store recognized me as I walked in; this wasn’t my first wee hour trip to purchase cigarettes! She smiled, pulled two of my brand from the shelf, and we talked. We talked for a long time. We talked about her tatoos and we talked about Alex, the cat who owns me.

It must be rather lonely working the 11-to-7 shift at a drug store. No one came in during the half hour or so that I was there. I wonder what she would have been doing had I not made my cigarette run. Stocking shelves?

Of course, she isn’t the first all-night clerk I have come to know. There was a young man who worked similar hours at a convenience store. We used to talk a lot, too. We had some things in common. In those days I was helping a friend manage a night club she owned. On my way home in the wee hours I would often stop—you guessed it—for cigarettes.

Now this young man played in a local band. I admit that I had never heard of it, but there are a quite a few local bands whose name and music I’ve not encountered. For example, one night we had seven bands playing at the club. Each had just released their first CD and the guy who booked our music thought that having them all perform on the same night would draw a crowd. It did. The only problem was that most of the crowd was made up of the boyfriends and girlfriends of the band members. And they expected discounted drinks. I have no idea how much money we lost. I had never heard of any of those seven bands. And I haven't heard of any of them since that night.

This young man who clerked all night and played in a band wanted me to help his band obtain a gig at the night club my friend owned. But that wasn’t central to our conversation. We talked about everything from the Louisville music scene to Zen Buddhism. He was well versed in many subjects—and more than that he reminded me of an old college chum that I had not seen in many years.

After the night club went out of business, I didn’t stop by that store at 3:00 a.m. However, several months later I encountered that young man out side the Hard Rock Café in downtown Louisville. We had another first-rate conversation and this time I mentioned that he reminded me my college buddy. You guessed it: this young man was the son of my friend.

Chance meetings are sometimes so delightful! I have had many of them through the years. I hope to have many more. I also hope to get to the point when I can again sleep though the night!


  1. For insomnia, I recommend an aspirin and a hammer.

  2. Someone else has suggested strong coffee laced with milk for insomnia. Neither your suggestion nor hers make sense to me.