Dial that number and you might get lucky, we were told. Desperate as parents who wanted to know more about autism in the mid-'90s, we did, but we got the TRS that relayed calls for the deaf.
“Oh Thank Heaven for Seven Eleven” was the slogan of the store where I, as Mr. Mom within the beltway of Washington, D.C., took my daughter and son at the end of our morning walk around the Jefferson Links in Falls Church, VA mid-'90s. This was before my children were confirmed to be autistic, although the children's behavior already indicated that the diagnosis for PDD-NOS clearly led to ASD. Andrea and Daniel were no fans of Slurpee and the Big Gulp, but they did like frozen dairy products, which turned out later not to help their wellbeing.
In my teens, the town where I went to high school set tables long before fiesta day to provide dice games for the starry eyed and gullible. We watched folks lose their shirts going after lady luck's smile on seven-eleven!
We are not the gambling type, though part of Iberia's influence in the Philippines and the Marianas is enslaving the masses with games of chance. Pinoys favor the pintakasi, now a tourist attraction on Saipan of the blood-spattering cockfight.
Gambling considered recreational rather than as organized con on the unwary might be what keeps the casino initiative on Saipan endure with such tenacity. In China, the game of chance is a way of life. Mahjong parlors abound. Tables take only a minute to set up in many shops and homes. Many office workers take their lunch breaks by swirling the tiles, and when lucky, or, losing badly, tend to keep their seats warm.
I met a Chinese woman on Saipan who was a Red Guard during Mao's time but fell into the addiction of power and possession. After her red-book-raising days, she moved to Saipan and began a food service business. However, she diverted earnings to Tinian's casino, and withheld moneys from employees on the pretense that she was borrowing them to be paid with interest in due time. Her gambling losses were considerable.
One of her employees wanted his money and came to our Methodist Resource Center for assistance. We provided him refuge until he got steadier on his feet. He received promises but never his money! Nor did the rest of the employees, including a teary eyed sister who saw 10 years of wages down the drain!
There is something attractive about the stance of allowing external situations to determine one's future. After all, reality hardly lends itself to easy human control and management, so why not que sera sera? This has led to dependence on Christian theodicy and its archaic gobbledygook, and the gibberish that passes for statements of faith is not exclusive to those under the shadow of the Cross.
Choice and intentionality, the core of our urban, secular, and scientific times, had their beginnings in numerology (determinism by numbers evolved into mathematics), astrology (fortune telling through star formation became astronomy), and alchemy (reliance on enchanting powers became chemistry). But the determination of one's future through the etched lines on one's palm, or the date of one's birth, or one's sign of the constellation or animal zodiac is practiced beyond the parlor game mode.
Asia abounds with shops promising to read one's future for a fee. They facilitate séances, read bird entrails and turtlebacks, then become the illuminati and advisers to the elite, turning into religious clerics and hacks, finally ending in a couch, with a PhD in counseling! Modern politicos hide behind the methods of statistical probability.
“Oh, thank heaven for seven eleven” is not an inappropriate greeting today, at least, in terms of the convenience store that has become the largest franchise in the world, overtaking McDonald's.
Mostly open 24/7, the first convenience stores operated from seven in the morning to eleven before midnight, hence the name. Now the stores are a network of franchises holding a commonality of red-green-orange on white stripes fronts but permissive of individual uniqueness and diversity inside.
One thing Seven-Eleven does not rely on, even in China, is luck on its fate and destiny!
In my childhood, my playmates carried amulets to ward off devils and invite angels. They carried salt to throw behind them as they walked past the banana groves, entreating spirits to keep their distance.
On my windowsill is a used small jar of Oil of Olay, which a friend carried to hold her coconut oil in, to salve scaly skin while in Oahu early this year. I've inherited the oil for my scalier skin, and added a dab of lotion aprés-rasage (Grey Flannel from Geoffrey Beene, to the Champ Elyseé crowd). It is the closest thing I have to a good luck charm.
We celebrate a birthday today on seven eleven, a good time to accompany greetings with wishes of good fortune. The philosophy of happy happenstance is alive and well. Hep, Hep, Olay!
We do take breakfast at seven and head for bed at eleven. We keep open the choices we make. Intentionality has the option on being able to freely decide, redirect one's mind, then act accordingly.
I do thank heaven for seven eleven!
Jaime R. Vergara (firstname.lastname@example.org) is a former PSS teacher and is currently writing from the campus of Shenyang Aerospace University in China.