Inconvenience Store


November 2013

Sound track: Mississippi

— David Nail

Leaving Elvis’ home and a nearby Harley Davidson store in Memphis, we drive past the Danny Thomas St Jude Children’s Research Hospital and the Pink Palace Family of Museums.  We see an ad for the creatively named Zin Masters.  Outside the city, a police car passes us.  Lisa says, “They’re letting me play this one out this time.”

Continuing west along US-72, we pass right by Tuscumbia, Alabama, where Helen Keller was born.

We cross the state line into Mississippi, which has to be the most fun you can have when saying or spelling the name of a state.

Sound track: Wagon Wheel

— Old Crow Medicine Show

Somewhere along the way we stop to put some gasoline into the car.  Pump your own, pay inside at the counter of the convenience store.  A customer asks the cashier, “Can I git a half regular/half decaf?”

The woman looks at him sideways and after a pause, says, “Yeah?  Whatsat gitcha?”

While we wait in line, a skinny guy with a cowboy hat comes on up to the counter.

“Kin I hep ya?” asks the counter clerk.

“Got any whopper bleds?”

We’re thinking, “whopper bleds?”  What the heck?

She points to a merchandise rack and says, “Right there.”

Oh!  Whopper bleds.  Y’know, fer yer winshild, to keep the rain off of.

This is one way we know we are in the South.

Sound track: Run for Your Life

— The Beatles

A billboard proclaims training in Active Shooter Protocol.  The Department of Homeland Security defines an active shooter as, “…an individual actively engaged in killing or attempting to kill people in a confined and populated area…”  The billboard promotes the “Run, Hide, Fight” response to reduce the risk of harm.

This is one way we know we are in the South.

By the time we drive to the small town near our trailhead for today’s hike, I have to pee.  I also have a hankering for some cheddar and sour cream potato chips. I walk into the Country Convenience Store to satisfy both my needs.  I look around at all the folks in the store, hair sticking out from under their ball caps, shirttails flapping, each one sporting an extra, oh, hundred pounds or so.  I decide not to look for the chips.

Odd, but I can’t find the checkout counter.  Two gentlemen (each no larger than an average size motel) are conversing.  When they step aside, I now see the counter, and the employee standing behind it.

I ask the counter employee where the men’s room might be.

“The what?”

”The men’s room?  Y’know…”

“Nah, we ain’t got a man’s room.  But the bathroom is right over there.  You can use that.”

“Uhh, thanks.  And give me some low-fat potato chips too.”

This is one way we know we are in the South.

This bus is obviously not a church.  It is however parked in front of the Family Life Center, associated with the Burnsville Pentecostal Church near Little Yellow Creek. It’s a lifesaver bus. Get it?

Did you know that Life Savers, the candy, were invented the same year that W C Handy, “Father of the Blues”, published Memphis Blues?

Sound track: Memphis Blues

— W C Handy

On our way east, Lisa uses her credit card to make a purchase at a convenience store.  As she pays, the cashier says, “Why, thank you, Miss Lisa.”  This is one way we know we are in the South.

Other than these features, the drive along the northern border of the Magnolia State presents sameness:  barns, churches, outbuildings, houses with red dirt driveways, land, cows, volumes of roadkill, churches, utility lines on endless poles, farm supply, gourd bird houses, hand lettered roadside signs and churches.

I want to be sure to mention the vast number of churches.  There is some serious Christian worship around here.  I don’t know that we could recite three Hail Marys without passing a church.  This is one way we know we are in the South.

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