Saturday, April 12, 2008

the arms of America

The gas light came on earlier when I was on my way to pick Mo up after a sleepover. I knew it was coming, and I had planned fill 'er up after I picked her up.

Today is a gorgeous spring day. Everyone is out, and lots of people needed to fill their tanks too. I remembered not to pull up to the end pumps. They're diesel. I was pretty proud of myself, and Mo was too. I pulled in front of one of the middle pumps and observed. Normally, I'm not too much of a people watcher at the gas station, but today was interesting. I had extra time to observe because I read somewhere this week that if you pump at a slower rate, you actually get a better deal on gas. Not sure if that's true, but I wasn't in a hurry anyway.

The 50ish woman with the Lexus SUV and very dark hair finished up and drove away. A big black truck pulled up to the other side of my pump, the driver jumped out and left his door open. I was treated to a song I've never heard before, Willie Nelson For President. While listening, I watched a dignified older man with white hair get out of his sedan to fill his tank. I was fascinated by the pressed creases in his blue jeans. I was also fascinated by the ring of blue boxers around the top of the ripped jeans the teenager was wearing to my right. He had a silver sports car with bumper stickers: Born to Grind and Suicidal Tendencies. His three friends had also gotten out of the car. Two of them were on cell phones and one was sipping from a water bottle. The guy who will be voting for Willie next November and the Suicidal Grinder both washed their windshields as my pump ticked on. Then Willie's vote got back in the truck and drove away, so I didn't get to hear the part of the song where those of us who don't plan to vote for Willie are all invited by Chris, Waylon, and Johnny Cash to pucker up and, you know. The bald guy in the white car backed in to use the pump in front of me as I finished and waited for my receipt. I didn't look at the total, because I didn't want to know. I had to back out because there was no room to pull forward between the bald guy and the Suicidal Grinder's friends. The guy to the far right was talking. Mo and I were hoping he had a bluetooth in the right ear. If he didn't, he was just talking to himself and it looked like a pretty animated conversation. As we pulled past the end pumps, I wondered if Mercedes makes a diesel SUV. If not, that lady learned today what I learned last week. I waited for the truck loaded with hay bales to go by and pulled in to traffic. As I did, I could almost hear a part of a song I haven't heard in years. It was screechy, discordant guitars and Bono saying "into the arms of America".

"America seems to be everything that's great about the world, and everything that's terrible about the world all rolled into one. That's what 'Bullet the Blue Sky' is all about." -- Bono, 1987

I don't know what all that means. It was just a strange experience that I guess I may or may not figure out later. Right now my family needs to eat, so I must go before the bullets fly.

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