#52 In Roads-Isolationist


I’ve pulled in for my first tank of gas since crossing the border into Oregon when a man walks up to me. I’m a little startled. He’s pretty scruffy, is missing some front teeth and needs to brush what he has left. He stands between the gas pump and me.

“Hey,” he says as he motions to the wide-open spaces behind me. “You’re all alone. Where’s your buddies? I never see guys riding alone unless they’re locals. And you’re a girl!” He looks at my Arizona plates. “And you sure ain’t a local.” He waves at the pile of luggage strapped to the Beast and asks where I’m headed. I tell him this is how I travel. Alone. I don’t tell him my destination but I point out the 3” pointy chrome horns on my helmet and tell him I can take care of myself. His eyes get big and he shakes his head.

He asks what kind of fuel I want before I remember that Oregon doesn’t allow you to pump your own gas. I hand over my card. “It’s .08 cents a gallon more if you use plastic. Don’t you have cash? It’s only $4.10 if you use cash and we’re actually cheaper than most. Some places really stick it to ya.” I tell him I don’t carry cash and he nods. “Oh, I get it,” he mumbles.

I ask how long he’s worked at the station as I pull out my camera and tell him I’d like to take his photo. “Been here 5 years. It’s an ok job. Better than some I’ve worked in my 56 years. Why do you want my picture? What are you gonna do with it?” he asks as he strikes a pose. “You’re not gonna put it on the Internet or on Facebook or Twixter any of that stuff, are you? ‘Cuz I don’t want you to do that. I don’t believe in any of that stuff. I’m an isolationist and I don’t really want my photo out there like that. You just never know what some creep is gonna do with. Or even our government. You know we can’t trust our own government for shit.” I tell him I’ll do exactly that: Facebook, a website and all but I have no clue what Twixter is. I tell him about the 365-day project. He goes off to wait on others but apparently it sinks in and he’s back a minute later.

“So you just travel around and write about who you meet? Well that’s neat. That’s all right then, I guess. Pretty cool, actually. What a great job. You must meet some doozies.” I agree with him as I finish packing stuff away. Out of respect for his original wish, I’m not posting his photo here. I’m not real clear on what an isolationist is but when a guy pumping gas for travelers in a backwater town in the middle of the forest tells you he doesn’t believe in Twixster, I figure I ought to respect that.


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