We arrived in El Paso a little after rush hour. The freeway congestion has not yet fully cleared. I watch a truck, then a van, then a compact car drive off the free way, down a gravel embankment, and onto a service road paralleling the freeway. A car already on the road honks as one of the traffic defectors cuts him off. This is what we’ve been trying to avoid.
When we finally reach the truck stop in the El Paso suburbs, we are ready to get settled into the back. But there is a little thing that is nagging at us. We let out a lot of air while bumping along the washboard roads of Death Valley. And yet, it took is till El Paso to bother re-inflating them. We rolled up to the gas station air pump and scrounged for some quarters. I sat in the drivers seat to watch the dashboard display update with the new pressure values for the tires. Clearly, the traffic had gotten to me. I was reading the values as dropping. That made no sense. We kept “filling” until we ran through a few rounds of out change. Yet, my eyes did not deceive me: we were loosing pressure. We scratched our heads and went to bed, there wasn’t much else we could do.
Truck Stop Hygiene
When we wake up the next morning, it is near impossible to get to the bathrooms. A large bus had come into the truck stop and the bathroom was flooded with bus passengers washing their hands, brushing their teeth, and grooming. I smiled as widely as I could and squeezed through to wash my hands. This was merely the prelude.
There is no physical line for the showers at the El Paso truck stop. We have customer numbers on our receipts and glance at it each time the ticker is updated. “Shower guest 58, your shower is now ready.” Hmm, I’m 62. Four people to go. I look down the aisle at well groomed man with a collared shirt and a trucker headset to one ear gazing down at his own receipt. He isn’t shower guest 58 either. “Shower guest 59, your shower is now ready.” Ok, getting closer. A younger man in a t-shirt sidles over, receipt in one hand and a plastic bag of bath items, to join the passive queue. “Shower guest 58, your shower is now ready.” Hasn’t that number been called for the last five minutes? Open up the shower to the next person! I look over at collard shirt and plastic bag. Will one of them stand against this indignity!?!? Collared shirt mutters under his breath and shifts. “Shower guest 59, your shower is now ready.” Is anyone in the showers right now? Do guests 60 and 61 even exist? Are there showers behind that row of key code locked doors? Is this some conspiracy against my sanity? Where am I? Do I exist? Is this real?
“Shower guest 62, your shower is now ready.”
Time to shower.
As I finish toweling off my hair a thought occurs to my driver: “So, I filled up the tires.” I stop. “They fixed the pump?” Nope. But on the other side of the parking lot was a free air pump. We didn’t even have to spend a dime of our loose change. I make an effort to laugh and roll my eyes at the same time. The mirror is right there so I can see how crazy the motion looks. Well, who knows. Enough time spent living at truck stops and I very well could loose it all together.