I just helped my In-Laws move stuff from their mountain home outside Denver, Colorado back to their home base of Dallas, Texas. Our drive across Kansas and through Oklahoma was such a striking difference to my normal life that I felt like I’d been dropped into a carnival dunk tank on a cold day.
To put this into focus let me start by saying: I live in LA. I drive a Sports Car.
But for this trip: I drive a 20,000 pound diesel truck. Through Kansas.
This is the part of the country journalists, and documentarians refer to as “Americana”. The term is always housed in adoring prose and viewed through the lenses of Norman Rockwell.
I didn’t see anything Normal Rockwell. I saw truck-stops. Cause truck stops are the best place to park something 13 feet high with a thirst for 50 gallons of Diesel. And if you’ve read the above you know I’ve never had a single reason to stop at a truck-stop before this trip.
So now the snow’s blowing sideways while I’m belching diesel into the side tank on my “rig”. Suddenly aware of the almost sweet smell of diesel compared to the acrid stench of gasoline. Except you can’t get it off your hand.
Which makes me think of my grandfather and his years of trucking. Remembering all the times I got diesel-caked gunk on my fingers when I played in his barn. You see diesel doesn’t evaporate like Gasoline does – it sticks around and works like flypaper for any passing dirt… creating a mutated clingy “super-dirt”. Blacker and angrier than your average clean-fighter. Perfect for little boys to ruin clothing.
Or guys in their mid-thirties too… super-dirt knows no age.
But in the truck-stops I felt as foreign as a Swede in Nigeria. Every woman I saw was enormous. No botox frozen, implant models here. Even the icon on the front of the women’s room was wider than the ones I normally see. I wish I was kidding.
And racks of bumper stickers and foam-front hats spouting sayings too stupid or raunchy to type, let alone emblazon my forehead or bumper. This world exists as a giant fart-joke response to the world of Normal Rockwell.
The thin silhouette may be tacky, but at least it’s attractive. The fat one is both tacky AND nauseating. That’s a combination I hope to never see swinging from the mudflaps of some big-rig. Even if it depicts the women I saw behind the counter at every one of these truck-stops.
I began to crave someone to share these moments. I thanked God for my iPhone camera as I clicked and clicked. So many absurdities existing unnoticed. I kept hoping for someone to step up next to me and whisper “Hey…. Did you see that.?”
I almost asked the woman behind the counter if it was intended to be a joke. But I think she was the model for the big chrome silhouette so I headed for my truck.
So there I was on my 1-millionth hour in boring dirt Kansas. Piloting my diesel monster through a crosswind with my foot to the floor in a fight with the speed-governor… when I suddenly realized what this world of truckers and diesel really needed.
Not another semi with a hot-silhouette on the mudflaps.
But, that fat woman silhouette on the back of a Mini.
Never gonna happen. This is not my world.