Buc-ee’s beaver mascot outside the store.

We all had different plans for Memorial Day weekend. Our house was being painted so I just wanted to be around, generally, should Hector and his crew need anything. Kristen wanted to declutter and Elliott needed to kickstart his summer job search. All Margo wanted was to take a road trip to the nearest Buc-ee’s, which I learned was halfway to Chattanooga. But her plan was the only one that even remotely sounded like any fun, so we obliged.

Have you all been to Buc-ee’s? Is this some sort of TikTok thing I didn’t know about? It’s like the Disneyland of convenience stores. It makes QuikTrip look like a fruit stand. There were hundreds of customers pumping gas and buying all manner of groceries and Buc-ee the Beaver schwag. People were just THRILLED to be there. Behold, the Beef Jerky aisle! I’m still gobsmacked by it.

Anyway, when I was in high school I spent a few summers painting houses. Maybe Hector needs summer help and will hire Elliott? My boss was my old basketball coach, Coach Avery. He hired former players and other basketball-playing buddies. Now after seeing Hector’s expertise and attention to detail, I realized Coach was kind not to fire most of us. We were sloppy and slow and perhaps too young to do work this hard, at least not well. The statute of limitations has probably expired but if I painted your house in the late 1980s, you may be due a partial refund.

The last project I worked on was at the very elementary school where Coach Avery ran his practices like a drill sergeant (for our own good, of course). One day I was glazing ground-level windows outside the 5th-grade classroom. Above left was a scaffolding setup where an older guy (20s) named Dan was working on the top floor. I heard a metal-on-metal scraping sound and then Dan hollering for me to run so I sprinted away and watched the crash.

Dan tumbled in the grass a couple of times and bounced back up laughing. I thought I had just watched someone about to die and he just started setting the scaffold back up. Was I insufficiently fearless to be a painter? A day later an old teammate put his 16-foot ladder at a steep angle and the footing slipped backward while the ladder fell forward. The poor kid slid down helplessly, grabbing at a brick wall, leaving second-degree burns on the palms of his hands. The school job seemed snakebit and this was confirmed a few days later.

My brother Marty and I were up on the roof prepping a dormer. He sat down on a hard plastic skylight to change a sanding blade. First, it cracked a little, then a split-second later Marty disappeared as if he were sucked into a vortex. I hustled down the ladder and raced into the school to find him. Conveniently, he landed in the nurse’s office but inconveniently he fractured three small bones in his back. Mostly I loved that job but now that I’m reminiscing, I think I probably won’t ask Hector if he wants to hire my son after all.

The only shop talk Hector and I shared was if I was sure about the green we chose for the front door. We selected “Argyle,” which sounds sophisticated to me, but once applied it gave more of a “Lucky Charms” vibe. Whose job is it to name these things? I keep telling Kristen that Elliott and I could repaint the door but for some reason she thinks we ought to have Hector do it.

Who knows what Elliott’s first job will be but if Buc-ee’s opens a store locally we should ALL apply for jobs there, just get on that gravy train already. Wear a Beaver suit and take pictures with inexplicably happy customers? Even I can do that.

Tim Sullivan is an award-winning columnist who writes about family life and thinks everything is at least a little funny. tim@sullivanfinerugs.com