FIREBAUGH – As vehicles continued to pull into the usually empty parking lot and mostly young people emerged, only to linger around looking at their cell phones, local business owner William Fitch expressed concern about the mid-afternoon congregation outside his shop.
“What the hell is going on out there?” grumbled the deli owner, looking out with suspicion from behind the shop’s counter.
Sources report that the crowd outside Bill’s Deli, which was said to be at least thirty youth, seemed focused intently on their phones, apparently disinterested in interacting with each other or patronizing his business. Fitch hesitated to exit his shop but, as time passed without any apparent threat or obvious explanation for the gathering, the sixty-two-year-old combat veteran ventured into his parking lot to confront the group.
“Hey you,” said Fitch pointedly to a teenager standing next to his door. “What are you doing here? Is this one of those goddamn flash mobs?”
The youth shuffled aside, glancing up briefly from his screen. “Hold on, one sec… okay got it. Uh, it’s a game. This parking lot has like three pokéspots right next to each other, and someone’s got lures out here. So… yeah.”
“A game?” the shop owner repeated. “You’re all here playing a game? What kind of game?”
The teen reluctantly showed the elder shop owner his phone screen. “Pokémon. It’s, uh, Japanese. You pretty much just catch these cartoon monsters and battle them, I guess.”
Fitch his narrowed his eyes at the teen. “You’re telling me that all of you are here to catch cartoon monsters on your phones in my parking lot?” he asked incredulously.
The youth nodded and looked sheepishly back at his screen.
The deli owner paused. He surveyed his nearly full parking lot, taking in the resentful looks of the young people now alternating between staring at him and their phones.
“LISTEN UP!” Fitch announced to the gathered crowd. “HALF OFF ALL SANDWICHES FOR THE NEXT HOUR!”
He then smiled at the relieved-looking teen next to him as a small group made its way towards his shop.
“And you – young man – I want you to show me how to play this game.”
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