i pull into a dairy queen - orit has also tv tastes in what she believes is food - she's excited to see the dairy queen, even tho it is colder than ice & she's supposedly from the desert, so we stop there. we've entered the deep south, in my book, so i'm a wary of who we'll be able to find to fix the truck. a young man in an apron comes out & leans against the building as i pull up. he reads my truck & then stares at me. i go inside & look for a phone book as orit goes & orders her poison at another counter. the young man returns to the counter & asks me about my truck. i tell him i'm spreading peace & impeach bush across the country. yamen (his name tag reads) nods silently but his eyes lite up. i ask for a pay phone. to my horror, he points outside across the parking lot to the grey phone covered in snow. i enquire about an INSIDE pay phone & he digs his cell phone out from under the counter & hands it to me.
he assures me i can call anywhere, he doesn't mind, please use his phone. then he hands me the phone book & gets his boss to tell me directions. his boss is an older man who tries his best to help w/both someone to repair my truck & w/directions. altho neither of these men are white, they both have thick southern accents that i cannot understand - and they can barely understand me! i call all around richmond - the few places that do fix my kind of isuzu truck cannot even look at my truck today. this series of storms has crippled everyone, not just me.
i finally find a dealer that works on isuzu's AND can see me today so off we go choking in billows of stinky, smelly smoke.
laura calls back to say she has placed a call to the boys in boston that worked on my truck a few months ago - not good news - they think i have engine trouble... we arrive at the dealership & find the service entrance. the good news is that there are similar trucks in the lot being worked on. the bad news is that i open the door to an all white male crew.... this is less than 100 miles outside of d.c. and 2 miles from downtown richmond. at least i do not see any confederate flags above the 'god bless america' signs!
a mechanic comes out & listens to the truck. 'new engine' he says - y'all need a new engine. we traipse back inside to the parts desk while several other white men gather to gawk at me. the desk guy is so helpful, looking up engine prices, installation prices, inventory numbers. he informs me they have no engine in stock but can have one there maybe monday or tuesday or wednesday. i ask him to call around & see if he can locate an engine TODAY. he does - both. calls & locates an engine in d.c.
that'll be another almost thousand to get it shipped from d.c. - wow, i'm in the wrong biz i think, i should be hauling engines 100 miles for a grand! then he tells me i'm lookin' at about 10,000 dollars. okay. how much room do i have on american express? do i rent a u-haul, unload & load up, head to l.a.? do i replace the engine? sell the truck? dessert the truck? my big baby who has been so good to me these past 155,000 miles, who has allowed me to spread codepink and imprison bush across the country for the past 2 years now? grrrrrr - what to do.
3-4 days to get the engine, 3-4 days to put it in, maybe 2 days if i'm lucky - then they're talking calibrating the water pump, sending this out to line that up - i'm dead in virginia....
i call laura - she's not shocked by the $10,000 price tag - she's already looked up my engine on the internet & priced them at over $7 grand WITHOUT installation. then i remember ray, the helpful white male mechanic i met when leaving georgia heading east for the inauguration. he had given me his card so i call him. finally i get ahold of him & he tells me i could try to drive it to georgia - i can't go over 45-50 miles per hour & i have to stop 'frequently' to check the oil & to make sure i add oil when needed. he tells me the pistons are shot - he had mentioned the pistons being cracked when i saw him the first time but he had also said he figured i'd make it back to california before they totally broke. i guess they totally broke - probably this horrible weather & having to let the truck run for 15 minutes before the needle registered just the other side of the 'c' on the temp gauge!
so i speak to the mechanic there - he's happy to put oil in for me & he thinks there's a possibility i'll make it to georgia, providing i don't go too fast & put plenty of oil in the truck. of course he has to add w/great equanimity there's also a possibility i'll break down outside the parking lot. i buy the oil & go w/him outside. the supervisor & a couple of guys follow us casually, ostensibly to help watch butch put oil in, but then rick starts talking to me. "how come you don't like the president?" he asks. "how come you do?" i ask in return. he assures me he doesn't like the president really but he doesn't like any of them so he voted for bush.
i tell him he chose war & torture & a horrible future for us as well. he tells me iraqi's don't know what freedom is & they don't know how to run their government & that hussein was a terrible person - he knows because he's been there. i ask him how the oldest civilization in the western world could not know these things & he shrugs. he says we're saving the iraqi's but we have to kill the insurgents. i ask him why was it so wrong for hussein to murder, rape, torture 90,000 people but it's alright for us to murder, rape, torture over 100,000 people. his shrug is more angry this time.
we get to that point where he claims war is inevitable & he asks me what i would have us do? that's when i get to say, yes war seems to be inevitable only if it is men who are ruling & making decisions. i believe women need to take over & show men & the world the alternatives to war: like making peace, compromising, compassion, and caring for each & every human being on this earth".
then all the guys get to laugh as they tuck in their ... & run back to their jobs. i thank them all for talking w/me - my thanks carried on the bitter wind. orit & i get into the truck, put circles around my big baby, and off we go to find the highway & hope we make it to georgia.
we go 100 miles & pull into a truck stop, check the oil & see we are 3 quarts low already! we don't smell the smoke unless we have stopped or are going under 20 miles per hour. as we're checking the oil, a middle-aged white man comes over & lauds our courage, driving this truck around these parts. we are still in virginia but getting close to north carolina. he tells us he used to live in d.c. but about 9 months ago, moved to viriginia because he could afford to buy a house in the country that he couldn't afford in d.c. he said he regrets his decision, not because of his house - he loves his beautiful house that he owns with the bank - but because he underestimated his neighbors. he said white folks are really racist, anti-women's rights, pro bush, pro war where he lives. he said he attempted to organize democrats for kerry before the election but felt he wasn't so successful. he said there's democrats around but they are silent, not wanting to make waves. he told us everytime he put up a kerry sign in his yard, the next day it was gone - totally gone.
i told him it sounds like he's got his work cut out for him. we need him right where he is & not to give up but to continue the good work. he said he was re-inspired, looking at my truck & knowing we're driving thru the deep south & heading to california!@ yeah!!!
we head on, never going above 50 & stopping every 80 to 100 miles. everything goes smoothly - i'm getting incredible gas mileage at this low speed. we've been on the road now since a little after noon. people are getting to read all the details on the truck, we're going to slow. we're still getting many more yeahs to the few fuck you's, even in north carolina. in south carolina, the fuck you's and the yeahs are tied until a couple of truckers go by, honking & waving & giving the peace sign! then a school bush rumbles by & the driver smiles broadly & punches the air with a right-on salute!
by midnite, it has started to rain - but the air is freezing cold so i'm sliding all over the road. we're in georgia, almost 30 miles from tessie's when tractor-trailers begin jack=knifing in front of us; cars are going sideways, unable to straighten themselves out, plunging into embankments & each other. i've slowed to 5 miles per hour as the rain increases and the ice also multiplies. i see an exit & a hotel sign - we head for it at about 3 miles per hour. there are police lights everywhere and crashed cars everywhere - orit thinks we're in a movie!
we get a hotel room. peace, sam