It’s Goin’ Down At Panera

I’ve been working out with a friend’s P90X video for several months now.  It was a sequel to curling cans of baked beans.

I promised my buddy that I’d return her videos in May, but I really like them and it cost $130 for a new set!  I was heading back toward the vegetable cans last week when Jesse drove up in new wheels.

“Where’d you get it?” I asked.

“Craig’s list.”

“You bought a truck on Craig’s list?”


He said it as if my question was stupid.  Although, come to think of it, I asked it as if he were stupid.

I thought it absurd to make a significant purchase from a stranger on-line, until I started talking to other people in my life.  Many of them had made significant purchases with Craig.

So I figured what the heck, if Jesse can buy an automobile on Craig’s list, certainly I can find my video set there too.

It felt sort of creepy, like the clearance rack at K-Mart.  But when I searched for my prerecorded calisthenics routine, I found that A LOT of people in the Triangle region either aren’t meeting their health and wellness goals or got a little tipsy and made a bad decision on QVC.  The prices varied – usually cheaper in the outlying towns – $55 in Fuquay Varina (probably don’t have a DVD player); $50 in Knightdale (may not have a TV).  I found one in Raleigh for $60, brand new, an unopened package.  The seller only accepted inquiry calls – no emails.

I felt like I was doing a drug deal. 

My palms became sweaty as I punched in his number.  A Jersey shore accent answered, “Yo.”

“Do you still have the goods?”




‘Your house?”

“No bro!  Panera, North Hills, Wednesday, 4:45. I’ll be wearing a black shirt.”


“I’ll be in a bow tie…”


“Nothin’… ah, dude.”

Panera?  Clearly he was trying to take advantage of me.  He didn’t want me to know where he lived.  I knew he was a scam artist.  All of the on-line wheeler dealers are.

I got there early, the cash in my front pocket.  I was tired.  I’d tossed and turned the night before.  What if he dupes me?  What if I get home and the “brand new, unopened P90X package” is really a Richard Simmons’ Party Off The Pounds VCR tape? 

Would it be insulting if I asked him to open the box before I gave him the money?  Would he pull a switch blade if I offended him?  Wasn’t there a Craig’s List killer?  What if this dude had some crazy infatuation with men who wear bow ties? 

I wiped my brow with my M & M cookie napkin. 

Now I smell sweet.  This is bad.  I’m leaving.

As I stood to move toward the door, my phone rang. 

“I’m by the counter,” he quietly offered.

I could see him.  He looked normal, and small.  He clearly hadn’t removed the contents and used them.

“I see you.”

“Well OK.  Are you going to come up here?”

“Oh, yea.”

I hung up and headed toward a table in the front of the resturant. 

He handed me the package.   It looked legit.

I pulled the money out of my pocket and sat it on the table in front of us, tucking the edge under the salt shaker.

“Can I open it?”

“Go ahead.  It’s all there.”

I didn’t remove each CD, but I did dig down deep enough to see the case and a nifty nutritional pamphlet I hadn’t even expected.

“You should have used these,” I suggested, “It’s a great workout.”

“I don’t exercise.  Kills my back.”

He sifted through the wad of cash.

“All three Jacksons – right there like I promised.”  I can’t believe he didn’t trust me. 

I picked up my box, crinkling up the plastic wrapping in my other hand.  “I guess we both got what we wanted.”

“Yeah.”  He nodded an grab the door handle.

And with that, my dealer disappeared into the maze of cars in the parking lot. 

I headed home – and inserted three of the CD’s to make sure they weren’t home videos of Jersey boy’s family.

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