We see convenience stores often. Whether in real life or the media we consume—Veronica and JD from “Heathers” in the Snappy Snack Shack or He Qiwu from Wong Kar-Wai’s acclaimed work “Chungking Express” sulking with pineapples in a Circle K.
Convenience stores, being very common, are a mainstay in the lives of many. Across the street, outside your village, beside your office building, the linoleum-floored, air-conditioned convenience store continues to serve us all. Thinking about it, convenience stores, among other establishments, hold significance to many, actually—people buying snacks, couples buying condoms, and children selling sampaguita—the trusty convenience store is ready to serve all. Small, humble, yet full of life and color, the 7-Elevens and Ministops that grace this world is a common cornucopia of produce, experiences, nostalgia, and convenient comfort. A common cornucopia, even for high school students such as me.
As a student coming home from junior high, I would treat myself to the wide selection of colorful, often unhealthy snacks that grace the 7-Eleven near my village. Ice cream, slushies, bottled milk tea, and salted egg chips were some of my go-to’s, with instant ramen being a favorite. These after-school 7-Eleven trips would make my day if I’ve not eaten lunch yet, which was a rare occurrence, or if I’ve had a bad day at school, which was a more common occurrence. The comfort I felt from a soothing, cold slushie was unmatched then, especially during hotter-than-average days in February.
I also felt a sense of thrill and independence during these 7-Eleven trips. Although the money I’d use would come from my parents, the feeling of independence came whenever I’d buy something on my own, even if it was just bottled milk tea. In a way, these 7-Eleven trips would be a reminder that life could still go on even after a terrible day at school. I’d have days when I couldn’t stand or get up because I felt terrible, and having to get out of the car to buy snacks from 7-Eleven would be a reminder that sometimes getting up from the situation you’re in could end up well.
Convenient comfort would come in the worst times, too. When my mother passed away, I was inconsolable. Devastated, heartbroken, grief-stricken, you know the drill. I was not in the mood for anything. I was too weak to get up, too weak even to attend my mother’s wake. I did go, however, and upon getting home at the end of the day, the convenient comfort that my trusty 7-Eleven offered rescued me again.
My mother’s close friends called my sister and me up to ask what we wanted at the nearby 7-Eleven. This brought back fond memories—memories from a time when my mother was still here, and memories from before the pandemic. Instant noodles and mochi ice cream became my solace, not just because of the satisfaction I got from them but knowing that comfort can come from places that are as simple as a convenience store and people so kind, like my mother’s friends, who offered a familiar relief in times of grief.
I still think of one moment in the present, a quarter to midnight, preparing cup noodles. Although a moment quite sad, it’s also a moment filled with comfort, surprising tranquility, and relief.
I still cherish convenience stores to this day, whether it be the numerous Korean marts in BF Homes or the Shell Select in Magallanes, for they bring me convenient, nostalgic comfort during turbulent times. They will always be something I hold near and dear to my heart because of the many brief moments and memories I’ve made and shared with different people in my life. Whether it be buying snacks or load after classes, finding grief-battling warmth in a cup of noodles, making my way through the different kinds of chips, and roaming their endless linoleum floors after errands, convenience stores are a mainstay in my upbringing, and I’m sure I’ll be taking my love and endearment for convenience stores with me throughout my life.
Rafael S. Carasig, 15, is finishing junior high school at San Beda College, Alabang. He is an avid fan of savory pancakes, Wong Kar-Wai, and the brutalist architecture of Makati. His favorite convenience store is Shell Select in Magallanes, where his favorite thing to get is Polly’s Chocolate Cake.
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