The Trading Post Kids
A while ago, I ran into a quote attributed to Joan Didion that goes something like, “I have already lost touch with a couple people I used to be.”
The quote started me thinking about the way it used to be at Twin Rocks Trading Post and how much the last 20 years have changed all of us.
Consequently, I went back and read a number of Tied to the Post stories from the early days, realizing how much I miss those earlier times and the people we were back then.
For better or worse, the people we were is not the people we are. This story from 2004 reminded me how it used to be when we were just starting out. Hopefully you will enjoy this reminiscence as much as I did:
Isn’t it odd how easily children can make you glow from the inside out? A few weeks ago, I was at the school to pick up Kira when, Gabby, one of Kira’s friends, walked up behind me, put her small hand in mine and strolled down the hall with me, explaining that her mother had given permission for her to come play at our house.
The gesture was so unexpected and genuine I felt happy all day, and started thinking just how fortunate I am to have the kids at the trading post every day.
The next day I was once again standing in the school when Cindy and Tarrik, my sister and nephew, stopped to talk. As we waited for Kira, Tarrik, who is six years old, stood at my side wiggling his front tooth.
Cindy looked at me with an, “If he keeps that up, I am going to faint” look, and said, “Uncle Steve, will you please just pull that tooth?”
I reached in and gave the tooth a tug. It came out so easily that Tarrik didn’t realize it was gone until he put his fingers back in his mouth to continue the wiggling.
When all he felt was a hole, he looked at me and said, “Hey, what happened?” I opened my palm and showed him the small lump of enamel, which resulted in a broad semi-toothless grin. He immediately began asking Cindy whether the Tooth Fairy was going to arrive at their house later that night. Once again, the emotion was so honest I had to smile.
Almost every day after school, Grange will stick his head through the front door of the trading post and say, “Uncle Bearwee, may I have a Starverst?”
This question generally translates to, “Uncle Barry, may I have a Starburst candy?”
Although Jana and I have given Barry several stern warnings about filling the kids with sweets and reminded him that Grange’s last dentist bill was $500, he still keeps a bag of candy in his office to bribe Kira and Grange, and the kids are attracted to the desk like a quarterback to the prom queen.
Having the kids in the store reminds me that Barry, Craig and I were roughly Kira’s age when we started working. We were employed at the Plateau service station south of Blanding, where we always had plenty of Pepsi, peanuts and potato chips.
In fact, there was such an abundance of junk food available at the filling station that I became a bit of a porkchop. It was not until high school that I finally grew into myself.
Having been through that experience myself, one might think I would be a little more understanding when Kira and Grange are beating a path across the trading post porch to the cafe to spend whatever money they can scare up on candy.
I have frequently witnessed Grange standing at the display counter of the restaurant negotiating with Uncle Craig or Aunt Susan when he can only scavenge a few nickels and wants to buy a Peppermint Patty.
In spite of my sugar reservations, it may actually be good training for him. If he can talk those hardcases out of their candy, he may do all right in life. He should have his master negotiator certificate before he graduates primary school. Of course, he won’t have any teeth by that time.
The kids will frequently run into the store and duck under my desk when I am talking to a client or working on a project, just like it is their natural right.
My clients have gotten used to this, and just keep right on talking. I assure them my kids are trained not to disclose confidential information and will not horn in on their business prospects.
As the kids sit under my desk, a hand will jut up from time to time and a voice will say, “More paper, please,” or “Another marker, please.” After a while, a refrigerator masterpiece will emerge and off the child will go, on to the next project.
I am often reminded of a photograph I once saw of JFK in the oval office with John Jr. under the Resolute Desk. I am sure JFK felt the same sense of happiness and security from having his children under his desk that I feel when Kira and Grange are crouched at my feet.