Saladolsa's snowy season has, to this point, been one full of profound discomfort and chill. The temperature barely broke into the double digits most days and Fernando's large office windows were drafty portals to a frozen hellscape of blowing, gritty snow and patches of ice.
Fernando did what he could to keep the store clear of impediments to entry: he ventured outside to clear away the drifting snow and made sure to scatter salt over what his orange snow shovel could not remove.
One evening, the phone rings. "Hello, Dominion of Movies."
"Yeah, I wanted to let you know that we'll be keeping out the movies we got from you an extra night."
There is a pause just long enough that Fernando takes this as a cue to respond. "Alright, that's fine--" he begins, only to learn that he had inadvertently cut off the woman, one of Fernando's best customers.
"Our car just won't start," she continues.
"Oh, I'm sorry," Fernando says when he realizes what he'd done.
But the woman takes this to be an expression of remorse for her car troubles. "No, don't be. There's nothing you could do about it. We'll come in and pay the late fees tomorrow probably."
The jilted not-a-conversation continues with Fernando only now responding to her inoperative car woes. "That's fine. It's like two degrees out and I feel like you're not the only one. Don't worry about it."
"I'm sorry?" she asks, sounding confused.
"Wait what?" Fernando also asks, and assuredly confused.
"Maybe we should start over," the woman says.
There is a pause of five or so seconds.
"Okay," she says with a nervous giggle. "Our car won't start, so we can't get back the movies we rented until tomorrow."
"That's fine," Fernando responds. "It's hateful outside and I don't blame your car for not starting. Don't worry about the late fees, since I wouldn't want to go out into this crap either."
"What, really?" she asks.
"Yes, really. Just don't let it spread that I'm not a heartless bastard."
She laughs. "You are the best. Thanks so much!"
"Welcome. Stay warm." Fernando hangs up, then looks around the thankfully empty store.
"The epitome of social class," he mutters, returning to his seat.