Giannis was not usually fond of road trips. He preferred the comfort and familiarity of his own bed to the hotel room beds he slept in while on the road. However, this road trip was especially unpleasant, he thought as he looked out the window of the team plane to observe the starry night sky. Four days on the road meant four days without having a chance to go back to the smoothie store at the mall.
Giannis chuckled to himself. It was silly to get depressed over such a small thing. There were so many things to be happy about, it would do no good to get obsessed over some drink. He reminded himself that smoothies were supposed to be an occasional indulgence, so four days without a smoothie was probably going to be normal for him.
Still, his mood was cloudy enough that John Henson, who was sitting across the aisle from him, leaned over and asked jokingly, “You feeling okay? You seem kinda sad, and that makes me sad because you’re always so happy!” There was clearly concern underneath the joviality.
“Nothing. It’s stupid,” Giannis said.
“How about when we get to Philadelphia we find a place that will give you a smoothie,” John suggested.
Giannis immediately felt his spirits rise. “You think that Philadelphia has smoothies?” he asked.
“For sure,” John confirmed. Then he seemed to remember something, and he smiled apologetically. “But we don’t have any downtime. We’re getting in so late. I shouldn’t have gotten your hopes up.”
Giannis’ newfound good mood quickly reverted back to its prior state. “Oh. But the next city, probably they have smoothie too, right?”
“Yeah, probably.” John had put his headphones back on his head, and Giannis again turned to the window. It was just a drink. He had gotten along perfectly fine without them for twenty years, so what was four days, anyway?
When the team plane finally touched down in Milwaukee, Giannis had already used his phone to get directions from the airport to the mall. Usually, he would drive straight home and fall onto his couch to relax, but he knew he would not be able to relax until a smoothie was in his hands, or, more likely, in his stomach.
Hastily bidding farewell to his teammates, he sped out of the private parking lot and got on the freeway. He usually adhered strictly to all posted speed limits, but the urgency of his need for a smoothie had made him reckless. The trip, which his phone had informed him would take twenty-five minutes, took only twenty.
Giannis knew he would look silly if he actually ran into the mall like a child running to his presents on Christmas day, so he calmly exited his car and walked through the doors of the food court. When he approached the counter of Smoothie Express, he saw the girl from the past two visits was working again that day.
“Hey! Mr. Tall is back!” Rachel said.
“I’m back,” Giannis agreed with a smile.
“I guess if I’m going to call you by name, I should find out your real name instead of calling you Mr. Tall,” Rachel said.
“Giannis,” she repeated, her furrowed brow indicating that she was not familiar with the foreign name.
“And you’re Rachel,” Giannis replied, pointing at her nametag.
Rachel readied her fingers on the buttons of the register. “What are you having today, Giannis?
Giannis held up one finger. “One big berry smoothie, please.”
The next, day, Giannis broke his rule and went to get another smoothie. He had never ended up getting one while on the road and felt like he needed to make up for lost time. However, he also made visits to Smoothie Express on the next two days.
“You’re almost becoming a regular here,” Rachel commented after the third straight day.
Giannis knew the word “regular”, but couldn’t figure out how he was one. Mostly he just knew it was part of the gas he got for his car. “Regular? I don’t know, what that means.”
“It means that you come so often that I know what you’re going to order.”
Giannis smiled. “I get you! Maybe today I will try a banana strawberry smoothie instead. Big size.”
Rachel laughed. “Something different! I was afraid you were going to be stuck on berry forever.”
“Nope,” replied Giannis proudly, although he was privately concerned that this new flavor of smoothie would fail to live up to his expectations.
That fear turned out to be unfounded. The banana-strawberry smoothie was just as tasty as, if not tastier than, the berry smoothie. His delight was such that he could not resist making another tweet for his friends from around the world to see:
“Just try for the first time a banana strawberry smoothie…get out of the way berry flavor!”