Thursday, November 15, 2007


Last night, we took a patient from our cozy wee country hospital to one with multiple floors, armed guards, incomprehensible vending machines, and signs in at least two languages. She needed something done that needs doin' in a place like that.

Since our prime directive once the patient was delivered was Getting The Hell Out of Dodge, we decided to wait until further on down the road to stop for a beverage and a snack.

Somewhere in the vast cow (in the daytime) and deer (in the nighttime) dotted-waste that is Central New York State, a beacon shined forth in the blackness. A tacky, multicolored, too bright Temple of Randomness.

The TA.

Now, I have fought the desire to refer to these places as 'The T AND A" for my whole life, despite never seeing many respectable examples of either one on the premises. But you hear stories.

Nothing creates confusion like being on the road for too many hours, driving out of a blackness punctuated only by the lines on the road, and driving into a phalanx of hyper-illuminated signs. Our first choice was "Trucks" or "Cars and RVs". Since we were rolling up in one of these:

it was tough to determine what side of the line they'd want us on. Given the number of vehicles on both sides I concluded that they couldn't give a crap. Since the car/RV lot was closer, we pulled in. The lot was surrounded on all sides by bushes already festooned with Christmas lights.

Have you ever been in a proper truckstop? Its an assault on the senses, a retail representation of ADD. Whatever you could possibly find yourself needing while rolling down 390 South, up to and including an electric guitar or an electric guitar done in fine austrian crystal, was available. You could have a coffee mug with the retention capacity of your skull and that coffee could come in no less than 56 flavors. I am convinced that you could not only repair, but actually build a tractor trailer out of the items in the repair aisle. And take a shower afterwards. Frankly, I didn't want to think too hard about the showers, since the bathroom smelled as though every hourly-initialled attempt at cleaning was no match for the old pee smell that clung to every surface like a titanium veneer. Tired as I was, I sat on the seat without covering it and could almost feel my grandmother flinch from 350 miles away.

The loneliness was palpable. As I listened to the girl behind the counter with a bolt in her face extol the virtues of a new kind of cigarettes I wondered what it was like to drive for days, passing through one dubious oasis after another, hundreds of miles from home. I was just overwhelmed with the desire to crawl into my own bed and pull the blankets over my head. Instead I paid for my bucket of coffee and shuffled off to take a nap on a bench under a wool blanket in the ambulance, which was actually a lot more comfortable than it sounds. Our driver kept to the rumble strips every 15 seconds or so to make sure I had a nice regular sound to fall asleep to. If he had more than one good eye I'd swear he did it on purpose.

1 comment:

Jonny's Mommy said...

Wonderful tale. Thanks for sharing. I needed a good laugh today. Only 11 a.m. and already the day sucks....