Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Days Two-Hundred-Forty-One, Obiwan Kenobi

Find me at the Travelers Inn in Okeebochee, Florida.  I should feel guilty but I do not.  I was well overdue for a rinse.  And the TV is not very big.  It does not have remote control. 

Which may in the end be the saving of me.  That is what keeps me up nights.  Flipping up and down through the channels, looking for something to watch.  It's the impulse which glues us to slot machines.  We pin our hopes on the next spin.  It's the force that keeps me moving around.  It's why I get up in the morning.

Or the afternoon, as the case may be.  Time is a relative thing.  I was up fairly early today.  I hit the road with low expectations.  Some days are easy.  Some days are hard.  I never know how it will go.  But I had a bad feeling and I was covered with grit.  I dared not hope for the best.

Which shows what I know.  The miles flew by.  It was no easier than yesterday.  But I had a lot more progress to show.  This is an awfully big country.  And it won't walk itself.  I'm happiest when I put some miles behind me.

I stopped for breakfast a mile or two in, at a roadside service station.  Two sandwiches, not bad but not big, and a few jugs of CocaCola.  Calories are what I'm after.  Nutrition can see to itself.  Soon enough this walk will end.  I'll celebrate with vegetables.

I wasn't there long, an hour or so.  I met a few interesting people.  The Sri Lankan fellow who runs the place and an old biker from West Virginia.  But I wasn't ready to set up housekeeping.  I had a long way to go.

To Okeechobee and I hoped a laundromat.  And as it turned out a motel.  Traffic was heavier than yesterday.  Some truckers get Sundays off.   Twenty-two miles through wilderness.  The developers have not got here yet.  There are woods and the odd cattle ranch, what I think was a dairy farm. 

This was all ranchland a few years back.  You don't expect that from Florida.  But aside frombthe palm trees it looks like Montana, only a great deal greener.  Soggy, you might say, and humid at that.  It still wasn't so bad for walking.  My clothes were so dirty I didn't care.  I thought some sweat might do them good.

Some ten miles in I found another gas station.  They promised a restaurant too.  It didn't look likely bt I can't say for sure.  I was not allowed inside.  Turfed out, sent packing, turned away at the door.  They didn't want my kind there.  That has never happened before.  I must say it hurt my feelings.

I assume it is because I look like a hobo.  But hoboes, as a rule, skulk.  I walk tall and proud.  I limp just a little.  It wasn't too too far from town.  If it were I would have had to explain myself, to earn my right to spend money.  But I was free to turn and leave, I hope with my dignity.

I wish I could say I left quietly, that I turned the other cheek.  But I am but human.  I didn't hit anyone.  I did not overturn a display.  But I did share two words and gestured with two hands to make sure I'd made my point.

Kwai Chang Caine would have just looked down.  He was not burdened by pride.  But I find it easier to be like Jesus when people are nice to me.  I would have much liked to punch that guy.  That's a dark part of my heart.  I hope a real hobo comes by and burns his place to the ground.

It's the hobo thing that offends people.  I do my best to put them at their ease.  But there are the few who express their fear with scorn and by picking on me.  And that offends me too.  I resent the assumption that I won't pound them into mush.  Of all the ways I could react, that is right there on the list.  Only one or two notches below "cry like little girl."

Hurt my feelings, will you, you bastards.  You'd think I would shave my beard.  So you could see the gentleman scholar beneath.  I'd just as soon let it grow.  I earned it.  I am a man of the road.  Let folks make their own assumptions.  I'll shave it off when I get to Key West.  I'll have tan lines on my face.

I'll have earned those too.  I should have something to show for Walking Across America.  They don't give prizes for this.  I think they should.  Pizza coupons or something.  A commemorative T-shirt and a new yellow hat, in case I want to do this again.

I arrived in town with daylight left.  I could have gone five more miles.  But I needed a shower.  I earned that, as well.  I needed to get laundry done.  And get fed, but I did not do that.  I'm having cash flow problems.  Tomorrow may turn out just a bit better.  Here's hoping that I get fed. 


I SAW a big turtle in the canal.  Any movement there catches my eye.  He was green-black and smooth-shelled.  He looked a like some doughboy's army helmet, but bigger by just a bit.  As if Charlie Brown had served in the Great War.  I know for a fact Snoopy did.

I MET too an armadiller.  I walked over to say hi.  And got to withing six inches of him.  He would not be frightened off.  I could have picked him up if I'd wanted.  I didn't want.  They might bite.

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