Volume 2, Number 7 -- July, 1997
The Big Day is Here!
Hey kids! You know youngsters, it's July again. That special month when we celebrate America's most important holiday. The day day when we wax poetic about what it means to be an American. The one time of the year when we can all unabashedly worship the ideals that made this country great. That's right folks, I am talking about the 11th of July, 7/11, Convenience Store Day. The day we all stop and say thanks to the contributions 24 hour convenience stores have made to our democracy. Now I know that by the time you read this the great day will have passed, but don't let that stop you from going into your local convenience store, grabbing a Super Big Gulp and giving the counter person a great big hug. It's that sort of holiday.
I suppose a few of the youngsters out there have forgotten the importance of 24 hour convenience stores in American culture. What with 24 hour Supermarkets, fast food joints and other assorted establishments it is easy to forget the pioneers of the late night world. I myself have friends that look at me quizzically when rhapsodize about the local kwiki-mart. That's all right though, because I am here to tell you what it was like in those dark days before convenience stores dotted the land.
There was a time, not so long ago, that you couldn't get a microwaveable burrito at 4 in the morning. If you wanted a tasty carbonated beverage at 3 am you had to go to a machine, that's right a machine I say. Lord help you if you ran out of beer at 1:30 in the morning because you were dry until the stores opened the next morning. It was a horrible time children. There were nights when you didn't even bother to leave the house after dark so barren was the consumer landscape. Of sure there were restaurants or diners that stayed open all night, but you had to deal with waitresses that called you 'Hon' and most of them had never heard of ding-dongs. No, for the most part you had to stock up on essential items back then or wait until sunup when the stores opened.
And then a great concept was brought unto the land. A store that would stock everything. From comics to condoms, apples to cheetos, deli meats to electrical tape. And this store wouldn't only stock everything, it would also be open twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a years. It would never close! Not for holidays or Sundays or darkness or for anything. No longer would you be stuck at home pining for the latest issue of TV guide and a pack twinkies. No sir, you could now go down to your local convenience store and buy what you wanted, when you wanted it. There was happiness throughout this great land of ours.
The tyranny of the retailer was beginning to crumble, no longer would people be content to shop from 9 to 5 and not at all on Sunday. Now people wanted every store to be a convenience store. Not just stores either, banks, doctors, exotic dancers (well OK, they already worked pretty late) all had to adjust to the new reality of the convenience culture. Nowadays you can't drive down the street at 4 in the morning with out being blinded by all of the 'open for business' signs. It seems as though every commercial endeavor imaginable is open all night and I for one believe we are better people for it.
All of the qualities that make America great, the desire for instant gratification, the love of salty snack foods, the ability to stay awake for insane periods of time to watch the entire "Monkees" marathon on Nick at Nite, the inability to say no to impulse purchases; All of those ideals are embodied in 24 hour convenience stores. So throw off your shackles of cynicism this one time and march down to your 7/11, AMPM, Wawa or what have you and thank them for being a cornerstone of American Democracy, lo these many years. Grab a dog, a big gulp and tell them, "Skippy says 'you guys are the bomb!'"