How did I ever get through night classes without QuikTrip? For those of you who don’t know, QuikTrip is a kind of heaven/gas station that has recently invaded Tucson. They have an armada of peppy employees and all kinds of snacks. They have something that I keep daydreaming about that seems to be cherry-cake-flavored donut holes in a container that fits in your car’s cup holder. Most importantly, they have the promotional red mug. The mugs were handed out on the day the gas station opened and, with them, you can just go into the QT and get any kind of drink you want for free for three months. Any drink. Coffee. A milkshake. A Slurpee. Diet green apple tea. Whatever. You can go in and get a coke, drink it, and then get another one. You could do it all day.
I didn’t actually go to QT for their grand opening. The closest one to me is actually not that close. It’s on my side of Grant, by the freeway. Josh called in the middle of the day to tell me his boss had gotten everyone mugs and that I should check it out. I thought he was saying that I could get a free soda that day. I failed to comprehend the 90 day part. I failed to comprehend that QT has ten thousand different options for drinks. I failed to comprehend any of it, and because of that, I confiscated Josh’s mug as soon as it all became clear. It’s his fault; he isn’t an emphatic speaker. He was probably muttering when he told me about it.
I was enamored of the free cokes, but the kicker came when I realized they had energy drinks in their fountain drink lineup. A diet, sugar free no carb energy drink. For some reason, I decided it was called “Donkey Kicks” (even though, on closer inspection, it is actually called “Rooster Booster”). Diet Donkey Kicks is my new best friend. It is strawberry flavored and totally vile. But, it’s free and on my way to class. After weeks of frustration, it has dawned on me that it is actually easier to get to my classes this semester without using the freeway. Easier, but still forty minutes away. Thanks NAU. I have to turn up Grant at the old Slaughterhouse and drive up Flowing Wells until I want to scratch out my eyes. Then there is all of the construction that is going on around the Foothills Mall. Before QT, I was a sad little girl. But now, I can stop and get a free energy drink in a mug filled with ice. I also buy one of those terrible low-carb candy bar things that tastes like paste and shoes but is supposed to be chocolate. This is a good thing to do fifteen minutes into a late afternoon drive. Then, I can eat this garbage as I wend my way to my mind-numbing teacher education classes. Then, I can act like a cracked-up eight year old for the entire class.
I am not the only one around here that feels this love. Every time I go to QT, my heart swells with the feeling of community as every single family in the Tucson metropolitan area files in and out of the soda section at the back of the store, happily filling up their red mugs. Kids getting milk shakes, business dudes getting coffee. We’re all so smiley and kind. It’s free. Who cares if we have to wait to get a straw because there are fifty people back there? In the class that I volunteer in, they had a writing prompt to tell the teacher about their favorite store. One little girl was fervently writing, so I ambled over to her desk to see what the fuss was. You guessed it — she loves QuikTrip. It seems that her whole family has been blessed with red mugs and her mom takes her every day after school to get a slurpee. I told her that I had stopped there on my way over to her school. We high-fived.