I love pawn shops. They’re kinda like Forrest Gump’s chocolates. You never know until you step inside and look around. I was returning home to the South Puget Sound area from Palouse Falls in Eastern Washington. I was in no particular hurry so I pulled into Cle Elum and The Cottage Café for some chicken fried steak. On the way to my noonish lunch. I spotted a pawn shop and thought to myself, “Aw . . . dessert.”
I sat down in a booth at The Cottage and placed my order with a friendly waitress. Coffee came with the waitress and a smile. I smiled back. Soon my smile faded as I inadvertently heard the argument going back and forth with the young man and young woman behind me. She wanted to get tickets for an upcoming concert during the summer featuring Keb Mo. The guy was noncommittal. Maybe it was a money issue or a timing problem, whatever it was the guy kept hemming and hawing. Finally, the girl, mad as a wet hen, as my mom would have said, got up and walked out of the diner. “Walked” might be a misnomer . . . marched out . . . no, stomped out was more like it. Outside she got into a Buick Century on the driver’s side.
The guy remained seated. I turned my head slightly and said, “Wouldn’t it be easier just to take her to the concert?” He huffed and shook his head. “I already have front row seat tickets at the Paramount. It’s a secret. Her mom is going to invite me to an early dinner. I talked to her parents alone a couple weeks ago and mentioned I wanted to marry her. They’re all for it, so we made a simple plan. But, my god, she’s stubborn.” He just shook his head and took his tab to the register. He paid and went out to the Buick and sat in the passenger seat. Although the tires threw some gravel as they left, the car stayed within the speed limit. Apparently the girl was miffed, but not stupid.
I finished my now almost cold chicken fried steak. The hash browns were perfect and so was the gravy. The Cottage must have been big rig heaven. Truckers and me just love perfect hash browns and gravy. Back in my car I drove and then slowed down and parked outside the pawn shop I’d seen on the way through town, right next to a Buick Century. I nodded to the passenger side seat and walked into the pawn shop. The girl was going through cartons of CDs. She was carefully looking at each one and flicking it forward and checking out the next one. The clicking of the CDs echoed through the shop.
I went back to my car and returned a minute or two later. A quick look around told me that there was probably nothing of interest in the shop for me, but you never know. I started going through the CDs from the opposite end of the CD cartons. About twenty CDs into the musical treasures I did a quick look around and took a CD out of my jacket pocket and placed it between twenty and twenty-one. Then I moved over to the hunting rifles for sale area and slowly moved to the glass counter by the cash register. I nodded again towards the Buick and momentarily the young man walked in the front door . . . looked around and started rummaging through the CDs. He ignored her and she ignored him. Finally, he whistled and remarked, “Wow, look what I found and held up the Keb Mo CD, “The Door.” I almost smirked when I heard the shriek. Okay, I did smirk.
The guy handed it to the girl and said, “I’m sorry.” She said, “I’ve been looking for this CD forever!” He merely said, “I know.” Hand in hand they went to pay for the CD, but the owner just said, “No charge.” After another couple of shrieks the happy couple held hands and almost ran to the car. As he drove away the guy gave me a thumbs up.
I smiled and sang to myself “But, when things go wrong, ooh, wrong with you, It hurts me too.” One of my favorite songs recorded by Keb Mo.
The pawn shop owner looked at me and said, “I saw you in the mirror. Usually people try to take something. It was unusual to see someone giving. Now, what can I do for you?” I just shrugged my shoulders and shook my head. The owner lifted a finger telling me to wait. He went to this safe and brought back three items. I settled for a pair of opal earrings for my wife. It was a fair price. I would have paid more . . . even if it hurt me, too.
Keb Mo performing “It Hurts Me, Too”
The views expressed in this article are the writer’s own.