A Boy Scout walked into the mercantile.
I know it sounds like a joke, but that’s how it happened. It was a busy Saturday at the trail, complete with Boy Scout troops who’d just finished a week at t their nearby camp and were stopping to see the giant sequoias on their way home. Young men between the ages of 12 and 15, most wearing their uniforms in sloppy, disheveled ways, had been in and out of the mercantile all day. None of them had made a purchase.
The Boy Scout in question burst through the screen door and demanded, Do you have any water? Where’s the water?
He was 12 or 13 and had hair made greasy by heat and hormones. He wore glasses and had not taken great care when he put on his uniform. He looked rumpled and agitated.
I’m sorry. We don’t have any water, I told him
I told him the truth. The store had only been open for two weeks and the company hadn’t yet been issued the proper permits to allow us to sell food and beverages. The twelve baskets for snacks and the two coolers for beverages were empty.
You don’t have water? he said with rising concern as he ventured further into the store and checked out the coolers for himself.
I’m dying of thirst! he said with teenage theatrics.
You’re a Boy Scout, I said. Aren’t you supposed to always be prepared?
Obviously, I didn’t think this kid was literally dying of thirst.
We’ve been at camp all week, he told me. We ran out of water.
Was it possible the adults in the group were letting the kids run around in the heat with no water to drink? Did the boy mean his troop was out of cold water? No matter what was really going on, I had no water to offer him.
As the Scout walked toward the door to leave, The Man said to him, You could do what Bear Grylls does and drink your own urine.
I will never do that, the Boy Scout declared as he walked out the door.
I guess he wasn’t dying of thirst after all.