Road to DC: New Orleans, LA
On the way to New Orleans, we stop at a gas station. My son Will runs in to get me a cup of coffee while I sit in the car, windows down. A local comes up, looking every bit my Louisiana backwater stereotype. He reads our car magnet, and pokes his head through the passenger side window, smiling.
“You on a road trip?” he drawls.
“Yes, a conversation road trip,” I reply. “We’re driving to DC to attend Trump’s inauguration and stopping to talk to folks along the way. We wanted to get out of California to hear what people are thinking.”
“You from California?” he asks.
“You hunt and fish out there in California?”
The question is not what I expect. “Yeah,” I say. “Some people do.”
“What do they fish for?”
“Salmon, Trout, ” I say, naming the only two kinds of fish I can think of on short notice.
“You hunt and fish?” I ask.
“Oh yeah,” he says. “Huntin’ and fishin’ is all we do.”
There’s a pause.
“I have a cousin in California,” he says suddenly. “He’s gay. Runs a hair salon out there. A hair salon. Crazy son of a bitch.”
I get a sense he wants to talk. I lean in. “So, how are you feeling about the country? You feeling pretty good? You like Trump?”
“Yeah,” he says. “You?”
“Not so much,” I reply. “But I’m learning to appreciate the other perspective.”
Suddenly his attitude shifts. “I hate the guy,” he confides. “Crazy son of a bitch. Why does a billionaire want to be president? What’s he gonna do for us…other than start a war?”
I did not expect this. “Yeah,” I agree. “It’s getting a little scary.”
“He’s real scary. Crazy son of a bitch.”
Will comes back to the car with the coffee. It’s time to go, but the man has one more question. He asks it like someone who’s suspicious of what he’s heard and now wants to know the truth.
“Is Hillary in jail?” he asks softly.
“No” I say, “She’s not in jail.”
“It’s just that I saw a picture of her, and she was behind bars, in jail.”
“No,” says Will. “That’s a fake photograph.”
“It’s a fake?” he says.
“Yeah, people do that because they don’t want us to get along. But we do get along, don’t we?” says Will, as he puts out his hand.
The man shakes it and smiles.
We drive away.