Road Trip

I’ll have much more about my trip to Charlotte. N.C. soon, but I haven’t posted because I have been, well, in Charlotte. Anyway, it’s approx 420 miles, up thru Knoxville, over to Asheville, on 40, then down Hwy 26 into and thru the tip of South Carolina, then 85 on into Charlotte. The day I left it was rainy as hell in Nashville, and I was wasn’t looking forward to the messy drive. Luckily, I think I outran the rain, because after I passed Knoxville, I was treated to some beautiful Fall foliage. In earlier days, I would have been quite content to crank up some tunes, enjoy the leaves, and take a leisurely drive through the mountains. However, as I get older, I find that I have lost all patience with semi trucks, tractor-trailers, whatever they are called. There are way too many of them. Long lines of huge trucks, seemingly caravaning up and down both sides of that mountain. Fast. In fact, if is practically impossible to drive the posted speed limit without being literally goosed out of the way, often when there is no “out of the way” to be had. Lately I have been doing alot of driving, all over the country, and I swear I think the entire highway infrastructure is being repaired simultaneously. I sometimes wish I had invested into whatever company manufactures orange barrels. So, I feel my grip on the wheel getting tighter by the minute, and I am quite ill by the time I finally roll into Charlotte. I got there right at rush hour, and had no room reserved, and I was tired, hungry, and numb-assed. I saw a promising part of town, so I exited the freeway and eased into a chain hotel parking lot. As I got out of my car, I spotted this man, a bell hop, or valet possibly, dancing around by the lobby doors. I don’t mean like “break-dancing”, I mean, gliding about as if he had a partner. One arm raised, as if holding a woman’s hand, the other seemingly affixed to his belt buckle, he swayed and dipped to imaginary music, or at least music only he could hear. I leaned back against my car, lit a smoke and just watched him for 10 or so minutes, and soon I was grinning from ear to ear, just like he was. Finally, I wandered over to him, and said, “today must be your Friday”. He asked me why I said that. I explained that people sometimes get a bit giddy when they know their work week is about to end, and I assumed he was looking forward to something special on his day off. He said, “no sir, it happens that I am 70 today, and just damn grateful to be alive.” He opened the door for me, and actually danced me inside and toward the front desk. I was caught a little off-guard, but really it didn’t make me uneasy for a moment. In fact, 420 miles of knuckle whitening road just fell away, and I was completely enjoying this man. He went back outside, and I commented to the clerk at the desk that his birthday was apparently a big deal to him. He told me, “nah, he is like that everyday, and everybody loves him.” Really?!! Every day? Yup, he said, he is constantly in a good mood, and is anxious to be as helpful as possible. I went on to tell the clerk that the old guy had made my day, and I was happy that I decided to stop there. He seemed genuinely appreciative that I told him so. Then I used their restroom, got back in my ride, and drove over to the Econolodge.

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