This past Halloween, we did an article on how you could make a cheap, easy, last minute costume out of random stuff found at a 7-11. It was goofy, but millions of you loved it and shared it with your family and friends and maybe even printed it out to keep at your bedside table. And for Christmas we thought, why not take a twist on that article and cover last minute gift ideas you could pick up at a truck stop on the way to your family Christmas? The idea was sound as I was aware that, my local truck stop at least, offered a range of items including homemade jerky, male sexual enhancement pills that were not approved by the FDA and a massive selection of vaping devices and liquid. It was basically Santa’s workshop.
The plan was to enter the store, peruse the goods, snap some photos and drive back home to write the article. Seems pretty simple. Maybe stop at Denny’s for a Grand Slam since it was in the neighborhood. But it was not meant to be.
I wish I could say I drove long hours, steeling myself against the terrible cold but this year has been unseasonably warm. I did have to wear pants, it seemed a bit nippy for shorts, so that’s something. And the truck stop is less than an hour drive from my house, so it’s not an insurmountable distance to traverse. But while my journey may have been easy and stress free, this was clearly not so for the gentleman at the register.
Try to recall, if you’re of the right age, the old Popeye cartoons. If you’re not, I happen to have Google at my disposal and will furnish you with an image. Popeye’s chief villain throughout the series was a fellow named Bluto. Big, angry oaf who needed a shave and had an inexplicably tiny face. Now imagine Bluto after 30 years of not working out. That barrel chest sank to his belly, the hair had gone a scattershot of black, grey and white, stained yellow-brown at the edges from cigarette smoke. His face was a topography of ravines, cracks and valleys from years of squinting suspiciously over the register at would-be male enhancement pill thieves and his whole demeanor was that of a man who desperately needed a nap or a hug from mother.
I snapped two pictures on my phone, one of my own shoe and one of a phone case that had testicles. You know, like truck nuts for your phone. It was at this point that Bluto caught wind of me. Perhaps he smelled hope on the air. Perhaps he heard the pointless click my phone camera makes. In any event, he lurched from behind the register and accosted me in the aisle, a modern-day Ebenezer Scrooge come to stomp the goodness from my holiday cheer.
“What are you doing?” he demanded. As a writer from the internet I’m used to abject hatred and the rage of strangers so I took this in stride.
“I’m writing an article. I just need some pictures of stuff you sell for a last minute gift guide,” I explained.
“You some kinda reporter?” he asked. How I wish I had made up a fake NY Times ID badge.
“I work on the internet –“ I began. That was all it took. Rage welled in his rheumy eyes and his whiskers were set a-twitchin’. Here was a man for whom technology held no wonder, only voodoo and unwanted sodomy.
“You think you can run my business all over your $#^&* internet and say whatever the &#$% you want? Git the &#$% out of here!” And make no mistake, he didn’t yell assorted symbols. Those were full on, old man angry swears. This man had no Christmas spirit.
My attempts to de-escalate the situation and put to rest whatever fears he may have had about the internet and/or the gremlins that make it run fell on deaf ears. He was dead set against anything to do with it and continued to berate me while offering several choice suggestions for new nicknames, few of which my boss said I could type out in full.
I left quickly as a small crowd of truckers had begun to form and were clearly offended by my presence if for no other reason than Bluto was making it clear I was some kind of monster. So I fled, perhaps a coward or perhaps because Bluto wasn’t worth the fight and that was my gift to him. I’m just douchey enough to type that out and try to present it as a real option.
So why is it truck stops don’t have the Christmas spirit? I can’t speak for all of them, but based on this one, I’ve made a potential short list.
- This is the only business where sweaty, lonely men routinely go to the bathroom to give themselves whore’s baths in your sinks
- The age old reputation truck stops have for unsanitary and unconscionable sexual acts between strangers
- Lot lizards
- Those male enhancement pills don’t work
- Those male enhancement pills work too well
- This place never closes and the trucks never stop rolling in. It’s the same thing every day forever.
- The transitory nature of the truck stop – it’s always a stop on the way but never a destination, means no one ever really stops to see you if you work there, everyone is constantly just passing by on their way to someplace else, which must make Bluto feel awfully lonely
- OR; that Bluto guy is just a real dick
If you find yourself on the way to Christmas with the family and need last minute gifts, don’t bother with a truck stop. It’s a lonely, unChristmasy place. Try 7-11 instead!