Oblivious in America: Part 3

Albany, New York.

The Mass-Turnpike was insane; these hoards of up-state drivers and New England tourists raced along at 20 miles over the limit. I made it to Albany in no time.

The petrol stations offer only pre-pay. Is gas theft really that much of an issue here? 

Laptop busted; Trip Advisor and Urban Spoon are useless. Fuck food; I need to find a repair shop. What use am I without my keyboard?

I score a seedy hotel beside the gas station. It was large and looked like it may have been something special one day; but that day was many moons before today. A few things are definite;  I need my laptop; beer; and food. Best to tackle these requirements in order.

Driving aimlessly through Albany; I find many things that are new to me. Side-streets full of unkempt lawns; grass growing between side-walk bricks; boarded windows and closed businesses; and I’m being followed by a jet-black Cadillac Escalade with chrome rims and tinted windows.

Your friendly neighbourhood dope-man, no doubt.

Locating a computer repair shop was unsuccessful. Moderately lost and then casually finding my way back to the motel; I want a beer. I walk across the street to the petrol station and see that they have forty-ounce bottles of Heineken in the cooler; beside the soda and orange juice. I grab two and set them on the counter beside the beautiful gas-maiden attending the counter. She smiled and stared at me. She had those fuck-me eyes; but fucking a random isn’t my thing.

She ID’s me.

She sees it’s foreign; and tells me I’m supposed to be twenty-one to buy beer in New York.

I smile and pretend to play dumb. She knows it’s an act. A sly grin and politeness go a long way in convincing a pretty girl to bend the rules for a mysterious foreigner.

She rings me through and bags my beer. I thank her and walk back to my hotel room, forever alone.

Never fuck on the road. Best worst case scenario; you pass on your genetic material and unknowingly exist as a DNA fragment in a bastard child you never knew existed. Worst case scenario; herpes.

I think I’ll pass.

I drop my sleeping pill, topped with Heineken; and forego a meal for some sleep.

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Part Four

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Oblivious in America: Part 2

The border police were nice; though I hadn’t yet tanned from the next five days of travel and neglected to shave.

The first guard looked at my passport; smiled and waved me though. Then his supervisor stopped him and waived me over for a closer inspection. He smiled and asked to see my papers, “Where you headed?”.

ME:   “Edmonton.”

DHS:  “Why are you driving through America?” he asked.

ME:    “Marlboros, sir; and I’d heard it was faster. And here’s the thing, dude; I’ve got about five ham-and-cheese sandwiches with me”

DHS:  “Okay? What do you mean ‘about?’

ME:  “Well; I’m not allowed to bring food am I?”

DHS:  “Don’t worry about the sandwiches,” he hands me my passport, “have a nice day, sir.”

Be polite and everything will be all right. That’s usually what I try to do in those awkward situations with passport-Gestapo.

I’m either a genuinely awkward or a generally ludicrous individual; depending on my mood that day. Neither character trait seems appropriate for dealing with the Gestapo.

I’ve seldom had a problem at the border; they look at the numerous squiggly stamps on my passport and the situation progresses in one of two ways:

  • They wave me through and barely look at it OR
  • They REALLY look at it

I’m of a blend of European ancestry; some Irish, some French, a splash of British; anyone with European ancestry is a blend of numerous other human qualities. I’m not sure which genetic sub-group causes it; but if you stick me in the sun for a few days without a razor; I’ll appear to be from whichever country you choose to believe I’m from.

I go from Irish to Iraqi in about a week. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

Thankfully I’d been sitting indoors all winter and shaved before I left; let’s see how I look in five days. The drive is 53 hours; spread out amongst twelve hours behind the wheel per day; and if I stick to a perfect schedule I’m looking at 4.2 days to be exact.

It will take about that long to reach Edmonton; but I bet I can do it in four.

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Part Three
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Oblivious in America: Part 1

Three o’clock in the morning; nearing the end of spring.

The car is loaded; the cooler is packed; the fuel has been purchased.

I linger; temporarily embracing this moist evening with the cigarette I had lit while the police were opening their doors to pull over a red truck, beside the church in front of my dad’s house. Why rush out? Surely this is more entertaining than that next five minutes would have been if I was driving through the rest of this old town just a few minutes earlier.

People rip on this microcosm of ours.

But honestly – it’s pretty sweet.

We’ve got it pretty good here; all but for the economy that constantly fucks us brutally in the rectal region and into our souls. If you can’t see that; then you’re missing something.

Travel arrangements were work related, not pleasure; but incredibly pleasurable nonetheless. It’s unfortunate that many of our generation don’t  have the manufacturing jobs that built this part of the world; that they simply don’t exist for us any more.

Many of us have to leave in order to support ourselves and our families. Yeah… I’m sure some people want to leave; but I’d bet many of us would choose to stay; provided we could financially do so.

Not the point… sorry for rambling.

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I turn on the engine of my grey Chevy Cavalier to embark on a solo trek; 2/3 of the way across the continent.

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Part Two

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