It has fallen to me to eulogize a Rim country institution that is no more. We who report the news in Payson write about the town council and water and Main Street and a host of other issues on a daily basis. We cover the police, the schools and the forest ad infinitum.
But all these subjects pale in comparison to the impact the demise of this entity will have on those of us who live, work and play in the Rim country.
There is a void to fill, and until somebody does, life is going to be a little less exciting, a little less joyous than it once was.
I am speaking, of course, about the recent closure of the Amazing 99 Cent Store.
Let's be honest. There isn't a person living in the Rim country who did not visit the Amazing 99 Cent Store, at least on occasion, in hopes of snagging that bargain that could turn a ho-hum day into a humdinger.
We can all relate stories about turning up an aisle, only to come face-to-face with a gourmet tea or a really hot, hot sauce. Several personal epiphanies come to mind:
- Buying paintbrushes for 99 cents meant never having to clean one again. The Amazing 99 Cent Store made it affordable to just chuck them after each use.
- Reading glasses for a buck. Who would have guessed that the precious gift of sight could come so cheap.
- Salad Seasoning, a combo spice that includes all kinds of things and truly transforms your average, everyday spinach salad into a gourmet's delight. Fortunately, I have 15 jars left, enough to pass on to the next three generations.
But by far the greatest "score" I ever had at the Amazing 99 Cent Store happened just a few months ago.
As a single guy, I am a devout practitioner of what I call single stage cooking. That means if you can't open it and eat it or stick it in the microwave and eat it, then you don't mess with it.
You can imagine my delight when I stumbled upon cans of tuna with the mayo already mixed in. I bought a can and raced home to give it a try, a process you have no doubt gone through yourself before making the commitment to buy all 412 cans or bottles or boxes on the shelves.
The pre-mixed tuna proved mighty tasty, so the next day I went back and cleared the shelves, garnering a supply that I conservatively estimate will last until very close to the time hell freezes over.
Lest you think I overestimate the impact the loss of the Amazing 99 Cent Store will have on our community, allow me to replay a conversation I had with co-workers Dave and Jay -- two average, every day (although certainly not normal) Rimaroos.
Me: Well, I just tried to call them and the number's been disconnected.
Dave: What a shame.
Me: You shopped there too, Jay?
Jay: No ... well, sometimes with a paper bag over my head with mismatched eyeholes. It's in the next aisle over -- CLUNK!
Me: You're a gourmet cook, right Dave?
Jay: He's a gourmet cook. He gets his sauces and mixes at the 99 Cent Store, because at 99 cents you can experiment. Expiration dates? Nah. For Dave, it would have to be green and fuzzy.
Dave: You'd find first class stuff at the 99 Cent Store that you'd find at AJ's. That's how I got onto Stubb's marinate. Now Bashas', Safeway and Wal-Mart carry it. But who was the first one? The Amazing 99 Cent Store.
Me: What stands out in your mind as one of the great discoveries, Dave?
Jay: The root beer barrels.
Dave: Yeah, but also the marinates, the tubes of garlic paste. I used to get cannonball olives by Reese's. They were good.
Me: Anything else?
Dave: Bungee cords, hacksaws, tapes. You could get anything at the Amazing 99 Cent Store, and if something happened to it, who cares. We're losing a gem.
Me: A monument.
Dave: An icon.
Jay: An icon -- ha ha ha.
Dave: You'd go into the Amazing 99 Cent Store and you wouldn't know what to expect. Once they had large bottles of virgin olive oil for 99 cents.
Jay: Hell, they had large virgins for 99 cents if you weren't picky.
Me: Picky is one thing we've never been accused of.
Dave: We're not picky.
When our Rim country civilization vanishes, as all civilizations eventually do, that might be a fitting epitaph -- "They weren't picky." In the meantime, we sure are going to miss the Amazing 99 Cent Store.