Thirst; though some choose to ignore the subtle first requests of a body's demand for hydration, I find there is little more reliable than the body's simple requests. The parched mouth in the midst of a long, wandering walk of indecision states clearly the body's need. Fortunately, in the age of modern consumption a beverage is for sale in one way or another every 62.5 feet. Such as the convenience store I approach, which will suffice.

Entering the establishment encased in glass to entice consumer's weak impulses, I spot the smartly dressed man behind the counter and offer a proper greeting. “Hi,” I grunt, nodding.

“Good day,” the gentleman countered courteously in a thickly accented voice, clearly groomed in a far off land where his thick, kempt beard is probably quite the rage. He offered no smile, his serious glare watching the store inside and out.

Along the back wall I find an overabundance of beverages from which to select. Water is the proper choice, but since some of the other beverages — many of the other beverages — are less expensive and nothing more than water enhanced or damaged, the decision was made to buy something different, something that allows for manufactured, unnatural sweet false satisfaction to pour out of a bottle.

Let's see...caffeine...no...mocha...frosty...punch...soda...no, carbonation kills...lemonade...blends...juice...juiced...no...no...no...beer...no, thank you...malt...disgusting...wine cooler...why...water is simple, but too expensive...water with vitamins is cheaper than plain water...no...water with spirit?...what is this stuff... After a mere 23 minutes of hearing the ring of the bell as customers came and went, I made a decision: I take the bottle of banana colada flavored, vitamin enhanced liquid (water?) to the counter.

“You are quite the decisive one, I see. It is good you made up your mind, or I would have to start assessing you rent,” the clerk circle smirked as he rung up my purchase. Before he could push the total button, he froze and watched a troop of young adults enter his establishment.

“Uhhhmmmmmm...,” I exhorted loudly, trying to guide his attention to the finishing of our financial transaction.

“Shhh. Wait. Don't move. Don't say anything. This happened to my uncle. It will be over in a minute. There are too many to try and stop.”

Turning for a quick glance at his view, I stared, dumbfounded. The young legally not-children were scurrying about the store, grabbing merchandise in quick, desperate snatches. It must be the rush of the day. “Don't you want to finish ringing me up so you can get to them?”

The man behind the beard smiled, chuckled, and finished our transaction.

“Thank you, come again.”

“You're...” I began, stopping as one of the legally not-children grabbed the juice and headed for the door. Justice began to course my veins, calling for action...but acting against mass stupidity seems so...stupid.

“Let him go,” the cashier ordered quietly. “You can have another when they leave. They're almost done and I don't want a fight in my store. It will only worsen the situation.”

Done? Done what, choosing their candy bar, beer and bag of chips? Then, as if in sync, without a single non-child queuing up behind me, they left the store as quickly as they entered.

“What the...?” I purged aloud, mesmerized by the absurdity of the large scale petty crime perpetrated by pathetics. (An admission of failure to act must be accepted. Done. But what would acting against such a wave of ugliness look like? If one man battles against ignorance en masse, is that not...ignorant?) Mesmerizing; such a petty display of profound and penetrating ignorance.

“Those ingrates! This is what that Evers boy died for? You would flounder in your avocation of finding a sesquipedalian amongst such an aggregation of addlebrains.”

“I only speak English,” the voice inside spoke too proudly.

“Perhaps in a destitute manner,” the foreigner replied in whisper. “Do those individuals realize they were all recorded on camera?” he shouted, wagging his extended finger at what was. “There is an image on the door requiring no ability to read to comprehend. Where are the police?! There are cameras on the exterior of the building! Or are they simply adroit criminals having no fear of the consequences of your lamentable system of redress?”

Looking down and accepting the disheveled attire as mine without need for change, I ask simply, “Redress? Why?”

“Those are all criminals! Did you not observe?They each secreted a few items, appropriating them without compensation! You are a witness to this despicable insult, this criminal enterprise, this assault upon civilized society!”

Witness? That's a problem. “Listen, I need to leave. I am going to take another bottle of the juice I paid for and go?”

Scoffing, he replied, “If there is one left, go ahead, I have everything recorded. The police should be here already. Go! Take it and go, if there is even one left.”

The drink of my desire having not been close to the alcohol meant that all of the bottles were left. I picked up a fresh bottle and headed for the exit. “Sorry for the trouble, and thank you for your generosity.”

“Go! Go! And tell those people to stay out of my store. I don't want any trouble. YOU need to fix your country! You can't let people think that is okay. Even in my poor country people are more civilized than your lazy underclass. Lazy, all of you!”

It was I who knew it was time to expedite my exit as he seemed to be becoming angry at moi for a troop of trolling nincompoops. Alas, they are fellow citizenry and he is a foreigner here to better his life. But how do you explain the idea that in this land we will give people a better life than they would ever consider working for, as effort is not required or expected any longer in this once dreaming of greatness land. How do you explain that as a country we have stolen ambition from so many by giving them so little...and allowing them to take a tiny bit. How do you explain that his robbery is an inconvenient truth we ignore? How can you explain this to a man with such a simple understanding of the English language?

I walk away. The police drive past me toward the store as I meander down the street. I am sure I walk past a group of the trolling troop. “That was stupid,” I suggest. They reply, but if it was English...no, it could not have been English, I did not understand a word...and I thought the bearded clerk's English was bad. Am I a foreigner? Am I in a foreign land? Am I...this banana colada stuff is flavorfail, but the body needs hydration. Next time I am going to buy water, or maybe I should carry one of those backpack bladders, or maybe I can return to my homeland where one can find potable water from a drinking fountain and people speak English.

I do not know where I am, but as I look around I realize it does not matter. Where I am is a place we all pretend does not exist, so how could I be here...