I was let into a waiting room—padded chairs, magazines, like a doctor’s office. There was a guy behind a window, like a bank teller, so I told him my tale. “Sorry, we only accept California residents,” he said. “Maybe they meant across the street.”
I looked down at the list—there were two dispensaries on this street, and I’d gone to the non-starred one. I thanked the guy behind the glass. “Yeah, no problem,” he said. “Do you want me to call them and tell them you’re coming over?”
Well that couldn’t hurt, I thought. But there was no answer. “Okay, here’s what you do,” he said. “Tell them you have a Burger King half off coupon.”
“They’ll know what it means,” he said.
They did not know what it means. At this dispensary, there was one man behind the counter, talking to a customer, and another employee who had let me in and was now in the waiting area with me. I explained about my newly-acquired license and the living—situation I was almost beginning to believe by this point—and then, after a moment’s hesitation—“I’m supposed to tell you I have a Burger King half-off coupon.”
The man—we’ll call him Jack—looked at me blankly. After a few seconds of terribly awkward silence, Jack said, “What?”
I repeated it, but less confidently this time. “I don’t know what that means,” he said. “A Burger King half-off coupon?”
“I, uh, don’t know what it means either,” I said. “I just went into the place across the street first, and the guy there told me to say that.” I was cursing myself for so readily accepting that medical marijuana dispensaries trafficked in bizarre secret codes. Jack paused, then shouted to the guy behind the glass, laughing: “Do you know anything about a Burger King half-off coupon?”
“What?” said the other guy. They looked a lot alike, both thin, in their late 20s or early 30s, blonde hair. When the guy behind the counter had no clue either, Jack guy decided he would call over there.
I tried to back out now, but he insisted, and I figured I might as well let all this run its course. I didn’t seem like there was any threat of trouble, just more awkwardness. As Jack went to the phone, the other customer left, and the guy behind the counter turned his attention to me. Then I heard Jack laugh and say into the phone: “You dick! A Burger King half off coupon?”
“I’m sorry,” said the guy behind the counter. “The guy across the street, him and Jack play these weird games with one another. The burger king coupon’s a new one, though.”
It occurred to me that maybe the presence of the other customer had been preventing them from seeming to know what I was talking about earlier. Or maybe they’d just been fucking with me. Anyway, we were all friends now; they looked over my recommendation letter, I explained about not being a resident yet. “But you are moving here?” Jack asked.
“Yes, I’m just staying with friends right now, to see if I like the area,” I said.
“But you are moving here?” Jack asked.
“Yes, I just don’t have a permanent address yet,” I said.
“But you are moving here?” he asked.
“Oh, yes!” I said. “I am moving here.”
“Great,” he said, and led me to the back room. It was gleaming, white floors, white counters with glass cases showcasing different strains of weed. Each type came with a card explaining its properties, and listing prices. I thought somehow the naming of medical marijuana might be more dignified, but they still had names like “Purple Kush” and “Green Crack.”
He explained to me about sativa and indica strains of cannabis—the former being more of a mental high; the latter more of a body buzz. I picked a sativa, he weighed it out and bagged it up, throwing in two (indica) joints on the house since I was a first-time customer.
I went back to the lobby to pay, fill out a membership form (most dispensaries are ‘collectives,’ for which patients/customers must be members) and promise to update them when I had a permanent address. I put the bag of joints and nuggets into the zippered component of my purse and stepped out to confront the mid-afternoon sunshine glinting off the palm trees. Maybe I will move to Los Angeles, I thought.