I awake to a muggy, hazy yet still kinda cool early morning dawn at the welcome rest stop just on the border of eastern Louisiana and western Mississippi. It is a huge rest stop, one that you can drive around in a complete circle and not just a one-way ‘c’, in one end and out the other. I have parked at the very far most secluded end opposite the highway and my rest has been deep tho short.
I decide to jog this morning around the entire circle – about ½ mile. I go around three times. I’m feeling refreshed, strong, vital this morning. I left a few “No DRONES” flyers out on the back bumper and all but one have been taken.
Jazzed from the run, the morning, the trip, I’m standing by the side door of my still incomplete camper, getting clean clothes out for myself, when I trucker pulls behind me and stops. I don’t really wonder why, with the entire rest stop 80% empty, he has to stop behind my truck.
As he stomps past I hear him hurl some vicious words that sounds like my thorough demise should be soon and painful. I step back, face him, and ask him if he’d like to speak with me.
He whirls around, scowls, and vehemently says “NO” and then continues to berate and vilify me.
I tell him if he doesn’t want to talk, then he needs to stop talking.
He rears up and takes a few steps toward me as he sneers “You gonna make me shut up? You CodePINK coward you.”
I would be so amused, as he balls his fists after doing that hitching up his pants that macho men do, but know it is wise not to laugh or show him the fear he is anticipating.
I match his steps, as I go toward him and ask “Oh, you want me to beat you up to prove I’m not a coward. Would that do it?”
He looks a little confused and kind of jerks back as if being reeled in slightly by the back of his tee shirt, maybe reconsidering as he sizes me up again, perhaps it’s crossing his mind for the first time that maybe I could beat him up.
He switches gears and growls that he knows what we’re doing at Walter Reed hospital and hisses CodePINK is a disgrace to the nation.
I plead with him, we are desperate to prevent any more bodies coming into Walter Reed, mangled, damaged, parts missing – doesn’t he understand that?
Something flickers across his face – I’m imagining a ping to the heart maybe – but he reinforces his position, claiming we are disrespecting those soldiers who are already there. I say we are bringing to national attention the plight of men – and some women – who have gone thru the hell of invading and occupying another country, and are returning to this country with little or no proper health care.
I don’t tell him I do not believe the ‘health care’ exists to mend the mortal wounds suffered by the souls, hearts, and minds – maybe the bodies – of perpetrators of war.
He whirls back around, screams more profanities, and heads off to the bathrooms.
Now that he is gone and the ‘crisis’ is over, I wonder what would have happened if he had tried to hit me. He is white, at least 6 feet tall, not huge but much bigger than me, with hair resembling a straggly dirty brown ink spot that prior to drying has gone thru a tornado, oddly shaped dark glasses with amoeba-like tentacles predominating his face, with his prerequisite trucker’s pot belly.
I look around and see my nearest neighbor about 10 parking spaces away, a blue van with a white, straight couple: the woman is busy at the side of her van as her husband sits in the driver’s seat watching her. I get the urge to walk over to her, to feel them out or maybe connect with allies, to figure out what she would have done, should he have attacked me. On the other side of the rest stop, there could be more people milling about.
I have been in dangerous situations where the most frightening thing has been the silence and even avoidance by the people surrounding us, rather than the perpetrator(s) himself. For it is that silence and avoidance by people in general that allows the perpetrator to feel supported and thereby enabled to act out as much as he wants.
She is studiously doing whatever is demanding her full undivided attention inside the van and passenger’s seat, head bent, shoulders bowed, I think it’s a good thing he didn’t attack me – I’m on my own as far as those 2 are concerned.
I return to my truck, brush my teeth, floss, drink some water and begin shutting up the side doors when suddenly I hear him again cursing at me.
I turn around again and enquire if he’s ready to talk. He snarls again, why would he want to talk to me, look how I’m dressed.
I have to smile and ask him, mimicking both his tone and his words, to look how he’s dressed. He has on a baggy red tee shirt frayed round the neckline that has a quarter-sized hole in the side of his belly-button where his protruding belly is visible. And he’s got shorts on revealing knobby knees and skinny, not so appealing legs. His face, behind his dark odd glasses and under his shock of hair that up close now looks suspiciously like another petroleum product, is horribly scarred by deep pock marks.
He struggles not to look down at his attire but he attempts to back off that topic. I don’t let him. I tell him I do not support corporations that sell us an image we’re supposed to all buy – making them rich and us poor. And furthermore, I don’t support slave labor. I inform him if the media promoted my image on the screen three or four times, most folks in this country, and perhaps him too, would be scrambling to attempt to emulate me.
I don’t ask him what possibly makes him think I’m interested in what he thinks about how I should look or not look.
He boils, his face turning a weird red shade not complimenting his shirt, and he shouts so emphatically, as if truth will grow with volume and strident words: “THIS. IS. A. GREAT. COUNTRY.”
I say if he believes it’s so great, why is he screaming at me, why is he so angry?
He stops screaming, steps back and calmly tells me he’s not angry. “Well,” he continues to inform me, “it used to be a great country and if I am angry, it’s because YOU’ve ruined it, you and CodePINK.
I smile, visibly impressed with myself, and say, “wow, I have that much power to ruin your great country?”
He pounces back on the media theme, accusing ME of being brainwashed by the media. I look down at my attire, glance over to my truck, and question how he figures that?
He rattles off the stations I must be brainwashed by, stations he obviously despises – CBS, MNBC, CNN – I admit listening to everything, including Fox news, which I also point out it is obvious he listens too, as he is so filled with hate and anger.
At the mention of Fox, he looks sheepish. He heads back to his truck, grinning proud and mean, saying I’m now informed! He’s done his duty.
Hmmm. As he points his truck westward, I’m glad I’m heading east. Can’t wait to see what Mississippi brings!