the filling station man

It’s a Friday night, although I had to check the calendar to know. Not knowing what day it is can be a blissful form of ignorance, know it?

Tonight we were supposed to be in a state park in Ohio about forty miles from here. “Here” is where we are; a KOA off I80/I90 east of Toledo. I was tired, and those next thirty miles were not “progress miles,” as I’ve come to call them. What that means, internet friends, is that they were thirty (times two) “diversion miles,” as I’ve come to call them. Sure it’d be nice to stay in a state park near the lake, but this KOA is right here and it’s the same exact price and I don’t have to take an hour hit to our arrival at the ultimate goal: Niagara Falls tomorrow. So this is one case where my pre-planning didn’t pay-off, since we had to take a late-cancellation fee for the state park no-show. I can deal with that. At this point those nickel-and-dime kind of costs seem like a $3,000 carpet upgrade when you’re buying a half-million dollar house; and seem to pale in order of magnitude.

This place is packed tonight; maybe holdover campers from the holiday weekend. Sharaun and Keaton are down doing laundry and I stayed back to get Cohen down for the evening. We drove in around 6pm and I promptly ordered a pizza to our “slip” (again, seafaring lingo seems approppo considering the purpose of this little strip of gravel in which we’re berthed). Yeah we’re those RVers… rolling up past suppertime in a dang rented RV and ordering a pizza to the door. We know how to rough-it, brothers and sisters; we’ve surely had our time in the wilderness. I’m now listening to some live Clapton (the year escapes me, I think mid-70s), drinking a beer purchased from a Super Wal Mart somewhere in Iowa, and writing to keep from falling asleep. The stupid time changed again on us today, losing an hour and putting is in the Eastern zone. At least we’re camped up in this timezone for the next couple weeks.

Hit some pretty bad traffic on I80 around Toledo today. No, scratch that, the interstate sucked from Chicago to Toledo. Funny that the two crappiest stretches of road I’ve driven have been the two toll-roads; there were some “free” roads in South Dakota that put this $8 pothole-ribbon to shame. Somewhere today I was in five lanes of traffic zipping along with tractor-trailers hemming me in on all sides, front and behind. It wasn’t as stressful as you might imagine; I’ve grown very accustomed to the girth of the rig and feel like I handle it pretty well. I do think it requires more dedicated concentration or something, however, making one more “tired” post-drive. Or that could be my imagination.

I gassed-up (and topped off the propane) at some place in Ohio today where the owner of the joint took care of us personally. In fact, I struck up a conversation with the guy, who’d owned and run his little filling and service station since 1973. His son now helps him out. I asked if he’d always had a repair shop and he said yes, that he was made to repair cars for a living and has never regretted the day he didn’t turn his store into a “quickmart” instead of an old-style gas & repair shop. He told me about when BP bought out Amoco in that area and they re-branded the place, but his name-emblazoned coveralls still displayed the Amoco logo on his left breast. We talked about our trip across the country and back, and he offered to drop our postcards into his outgoing mail rather than direct us to the post office in town. I’m serious people… this was something I found uniquely “American,” for whatever reason.

The guy declined my offered tip for the trouble (he had to fill the LP tank from the wrong side, and for the postcards, y’know), telling me instead to “get something nice” for my daughter on our trip instead. All in all I maybe talked to him for twenty minutes but I walked away betting he’d shed the shirt from his back if I’d rolled-up with none of my own, and that he’d do the same for any customer, really. Funny, but those kind of experiences are all “road trip” to me. Yes, of course Mt. Rushmore and Yellowstone and visiting family and friends are road-tripping too… but that kind of Chevy truck commercial “heartland” Marlboro American vibe too contributes.

OK I’m tired. I don’t think I can even upload an image to accompany this post on the crappy KOA wireless, so you get text-only.


Also written on this day...

2 Replies to “the filling station man”

  1. I really hope that “girth of the rig and feeling like I handle it pretty well” isn’t a euphemism for playing with your, well, you know. Actually, I kinda like it. Mind if I steal it? 🙂

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *