Monday, October 17, 2005

Just a Jaunt

You finally emerge from the crumb cake and sagebrush of the Great Basin, breaking into the mountains and pine. In Susanville, you saunter into the Chevron to exchange money for gas and find a mustached Highway Patrolman trying to have meaningful glances with an uncomfortable, teenaged clerk. He feeds her compliments on her knowledge of the snack rack and cash register while her sweat stained, buttoned down boss sandwiches her from the other side of the counter. The lawman shifts his weight inside his creaking, leather utility belt and wields his flashlight as he would a scepter. The entrepreneur places his hand on the girl’s shoulder like her paycheck is her pink slip and then you approach. Yet another creep.

In this shameful moment you recognize the living example of how you’ll never be able to save everyone who may need saving. Without doing anything but collecting your change, you leave in your earth-bound rocket and blast up the mountainside. Only miles ahead in this same remote area, you had been stranded once yourself. Your car had died in the night and you slept in the driver’s seat. When the sun came up you looked at Lassen Peak and followed the highway’s white line into Old Station. You ate a runny omelet in a shabby restaurant and broke the standing Ms. Pacman record with one quarter.

Eventually, you made it out of there on your own. So what makes you think that the girl at the Chevron wouldn’t?

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