April 22, 2012
I was called “honey” twice, once in Tennessee and once in Alabama. In Tennessee, it was a cashier at a Mobil gas station, who said, “Thank you, honey” when I paid her for a bag of Fritos after I’d filled up my gas tank. In Alabama it was a drugged out girl who was panhandling at a rest area, asking for “change or dollar bills to call a cab.” She too said, “Thank you, honey,” when I gave her two dollars.
It’s nice to be in the South. That is, until you remember you’re a brown-skinned person driving a car with DC license plates and an Obama bumper sticker on its back window. I made a wrong exit earlier this evening, in search of a hotel, and I ended up in a lonely stretch of a dark country road, and I kept thinking of those license plates and that bumper sticker as I made my way back to the interstate. I kept hearing banjo music in my head.
I drove some 750 miles in 13 hours today, stopping only to gas up – twice – and for pit stops. I made more pit stops than I needed because I kept fearing that the next rest stop might be too far away. I didn’t stop to eat, eating mainly junk food and some fruit that I had brought with me, and yogurt. I was going to go to a McDonald’s for an Eggs McMuffin when I stopped for gas the first time, but then I saw some Dunkin Donuts at the 7-Eleven where I bought my gas, and I couldn’t resist them. Best donuts I’ve ever tasted. At the 7-Eleven, while getting my coffee, I kept having to maneuver around a guy who was also getting coffee. He had a smile on his face all the time, and he turned to me and said, “Isn’t this a nice clean store?” I agreed. “So clean,” he repeated. If Andy Griffith and John Edwards could have gotten married and had kids, I think they would have all looked and acted like this guy. When he paid for his coffee, he told the cashier that he really admired how nice and clean the store was. When he drove away I noticed Connecticut tags on his SUV. I can only imagine what the convenient stores look like in Connecticut.
I started out listening to my iTunes music but I quickly switched to Sirius XM. What a great invention. I especially liked the Latino/salsa station. Great way to stay awake and alert while driving, but you can only take so much of it. After listening to music or talk for more than 10 hours, I finally decided, just south of Chattanooga, that I didn’t want to listen to anything anymore, so I reached out and pushed the off button. Silence never sounded so good. I left it off for about an hour and then decided to see what was playing on Willie’s Roadhouse. It was a weekly show featuring takes from and old Hank Williams (50s) radio show. His daughter hosts it, and in between the four- or five-minute segments, she talks about her dad. She was talking about his last days, and the speculation as to what may have happened to him. And she mentioned all these towns or cities or regions where he was on those last few days – towns, or cities or regions I had just driven through. I felt as if I was on a Hank Williams pilgrimage.
It’s about 10:15 now (11:15 Washington time) and I think I need to go to sleep. I have to get up early to hit the road very early if I’m going to make it to Houston in time for dinner with friends.
I love road trips.