Thursday, January 6, 2011

The Cookie Van

A couple of times a year the cookie van comes to where I work and sets up in the parking lot. Without fail I’ll make an appointment to visit the cookie van at some point in the day. I’m a big fan of cookies, before my wife vetoed it the plan was to name our third child Cookie (true story). However, each time I go to the cookie van it’s quite an ordeal just to get some free cookies. So this time I formulated a plan.

I walked into the cookie van at my appointed time. I signed in and read the required literature. When it came time to step into the closet with chairs I followed the cookie attendant in and announced:

“I’m feeling well today. I don’t have a cold or the flu. A friend in the 3rd grade had hemophilia but we didn’t share more than a No. 2 pencil. I’ve taken nothing outside of ibuprofen in the last 12 months. I haven’t traveled to Europe since 1980 and neither I nor my mother has spent more than three months in Mexico since 1977. I’ve never had malaria, syphilis or gonorrhea. I don’t use needles to take drugs not prescribed to me by a doctor. I have no body piercings or tattoos. I’m a heterosexual male who’s never traded money or drugs for sex. I’m 6’1 and my weight is none of your business.”

I then stuck out my hand Colbert style to accept my cookies. The attendant looked at me quizzically for a moment and then stabbed my right index finger with a pin. I recoiled in pain and she promptly wrestled control of my hand and squeezed a drop of blood into a small container of Windex. After briefly watching it float to the bottom she had me sign some papers and exit the closet.

As I emerged from the small closet with chairs I spotted at the other end of the van the object of my desire, a bag of Famous Amos Chocolate Chip cookies. I made a beeline for the cookie area but found my path blocked by a stocky serious looking woman; for a moment I thought about giving her the old shimmy shake head fake but the cramped quarters of the van precluded such a maneuver. I made a desperate appeal with my eyes towards the cookies but she remained firm gesturing towards the seat to her left. I acquiesced and lay down in the recliner.

She set to work scrubbing my arm at the bend in my elbow, which was odd because I’ve never tried to eat a cookie with my elbow pit. After handing me a small piece of pipe to hold she stabbed me in the arm and instructed me to squeeze the pipe every 30 seconds, which I dutifully did still not understanding what any of this had to do with me getting a cookie.

I nervously watched a couple of coworkers already in the cookie area visiting. One of them reached for the last visible bag of Famous Amos Chocolate Chip cookies in the pile. Instinctively I leapt forward but was restrained by the stocky serious looking lady who warned me to lay still. I thought to myself if there’s a god in heaven that won’t be the last chocolate chip bag leaving me with only lemon cookies. Following a brief supplication with deity I again scanned the pile for a tan bag with blue letters to no avail.

A few minutes later she removed the shank and bandaged my wound with all the care of a battlefront field medic. She then told me I had just 15 minutes to stay in the cookie area! I had to move fast.

I bolted to the cookie pile and picked through the bags like a child in search of the prize at the bottom of the cereal box. Chex Mix, fruit snacks, the dreaded lemon cookie, more Chex Mix. ‘I can’t be gone,’ I thought. ‘It must be here.’

After what felt like an eternity I abandoned my search for Amos’ Famous cookies with chocolate chips. Collapsing into a chair with a juice box I tore open my bag of Knott’s Berry Farm’s Raspberry Shortbread cookies.

As I sat there, trying to swallow this dry tasteless cookie topped with hardened raspberry goo, I began contemplating what it was all for. What kind of diabolical organization would throw so many obstacles and hardships between a man and his cookie?

They told me I was a hero. No. The real heroes are those men and women who wake up every day to make and bag cookies for those poor souls forced to endure the rigors of the cookie van to get them. Those are your heroes, folks. I’m just a man looking for a cookie.

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