Salt shaker. Want the story? OK.
So, this particular thrift store was in the middle of nowhere, Texas. Surrounded by primordial forest. The hand-painted sign outside the beat-up building listed much stuff inside and one of the items was misspelled, I forget what.
I couldn’t say no, right?
The proprietor was a weird old man with tons of energy and some missing teeth. He prevailed upon me to go outside, to the outbuildings in back. “That’s where the real good stuff is!”
I walked out there alone and saw seven corrugated tin shacks, big ones. Doors were all open but there was no electricity. Did I mention it was hotter than hades?
Everything inside these big shacks was helter-skelter. Computer books from the 80s, cassette tapes, mah-jongg, cutlery. Piled high on rickety card tables, 1970s weighs-a-ton furniture, car hoods. And it was hot. Oh my gosh, it was hot.
All I wanted was to get out of there. I was thirsty but I had no water and I didn’t want to ask the weird old man for a drink. But first I had to find something to photograph. One thing. For the blog. So, slowly at first, I began shuffling crap.
And then I picked up the pace. Faster and faster. SO HOT. Sweat was pouring off me, staining some bullshit Herbie Hancock book that I *almost* photographed but discarded. Not good enough.
Nothing. So I walked to the next shack.
And the next.
And the next.
Finally I stood in the last tin hot house, throwing crap everywhere, screaming “WHERE IS IT? WHERE IS IT?!! IT’S GOT TO BE HERE!!!!!!!!!” Dehydration had made me demented, crazed, an animal. But still there was only awful stuff that should have been in a landfill: 1960s milk bottles, an ugly porcelain baby’s pacifier, stuffed tomatoes that upon inspection were ratty sewing pincushions, cheap-o water glasses. Where does this old guy buy all this garbage, I wondered. And why does he keep it?
I nearly swooned and fell down. I realized I had been in these corrugated prisoner-of-war hothouses for hours. But I would not give up.
And then, as if by divine mercy, I saw this little angel salt shaker. So tiny–couldn’t hold more than a teaspoon of sel. Two holes atop its little head. Somehow, it was perfect. I cried, I was so happy. I knew it! I knew it was here!
And I do realize in retrospect that this salt shaker is “blah,” especially for the (dare I say) high standards of this blog. However, at the time, I truly thought I’d discovered the Grail. I was so ecstatic I wanted to buy the thing, for any price the old man asked. But back in the store, he had disappeared. Where? There was nowhere to go, except the woods.
Finally, I couldn’t wait any longer. I set the little salt shaker reverently upon the man’s ancient cash register, strolled out, got in my vehicle, and drove away.
I did it for you.