February 6, 2004

next services 56 miles


Chapel Hill, NC to Jasper, GA


When you enter Georgia from South Carolina, you are presented with a Gomorrah-like display of "gentlemen's clubs," porno warehouses, peep show barracks and adult establishments promising every sort of toy you could possible shove up your duodenum. One such place called "Bedroom Eyes" (I think) had a plume of steam rising from its chimney thousands of feet into the air, as if the furious masturbating of three hundred truckers was creating enough kinetic energy to convert friction to hydro-electric power.

My tastes run a little more pedestrian. I have always loved the gigantic chain-owned Truck Stops, and no, not because of the ironic hipster value. I actually like them intrinsically. The "Flying J" or the "TA Truck Authority" establishments are a frequent haunt for my road trip dollar, much to the horror and disdain of my darling Tessa. She just doesn't get how cool it is; the miles of polyester track suits, the wall full of rear view mirrors, the constantly-revolving cylinders of 4-day-old beef wieners stacked up like they were timber logs in an Oregon river.

People don't realize the crazy deals you can get at a these places; cell phone accessories that usually cost $49.99 at a Radio Shack will cost $4.25 at a Flying J. At several of them you can check your email at a sit-down kiosk within smellshot of the men's room most of the "computers" have trackpads that have been stabbed by countless befuddled truckers, which I think is kind of cute.

I could do without all the NASCAR shit (the Dale Earnhardt Memorial Jumpsuits are fuckin' reprehensible) but if you want the Commodores' Greatest Hits, the cassette is yours for 99 cents. I have walked those aisles, lo, so many hours. I grow old, I grow old, I wear the bottoms of my trousers rolled, but I also bought a TV set that plugs into your cigarette lighter for 29 bucks.

Like any Wal-Mart, your average Flying J didn't destroy the "downtown community," it just moved it next to the highway. These places are their own ecosystem, biosphere and microclimate. Everyone knows each other, even the truckers that come from half a continent away. Sure, I'm just an observer, an interloper eyeing the CB radio microphones a little too long, but for a few minutes, I bathe in the warmth of the pizza heat-lamps and I feel my natural snobbery dissipate into a Styrofoam cup of scalding hot coffee.

Posted by irw at February 6, 2004 11:40 PM
Posted by: CL at February 7, 2004 7:36 AM

>>the constantly-revolving cylinders of 4-day-old beef wieners stacked up like they were timber logs in an Oregon river.

I love that.

Posted by: Tamara at February 7, 2004 9:20 AM

Ah, finally someone who understands the beauty of the truck stop. My friends just don't get it. For me it's the nostalgia of the endless roadtrips from AZ to MN, broken up only by historic landmarks and truck stops. Now as I go between AZ and CA, I marvel at the convenient placement of 'my' Flying J in Ehrenberg, AZ. Just perfect for my tiny car's tank of gas.

Posted by: Sean Patrick at February 8, 2004 8:28 AM

Flying Js all have wireless internet now, too. The one I was at in Pennslyvania tried to sell special flying J wireless cards that supposedly allow you to use the wireless web at any flying J location, but me and my dad were able to jump on without them.

Posted by: LDV at February 18, 2004 8:31 AM

If you don't want kids yet, have Tessa freeze her eggs. It's a woman's eggs that go bad not her uterus. It's totally creepy but it'll work. But, sperm goes bad, too, btw. Usually when women conceive later in life and the kid has defects it's b/c the sperm has gone funky - seriously. Search the web, there are new studies on it. So you should freeze your stuff too. Then you guys can have kids when you're 50. You seemed stumped about what to do so just wanted to let you know what I've read recently.

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