4.26.2007,5:01 PM
A Road Trip with Bad Mojo: Part IV
Riding Under a Bad Sign

I pulled into the Pilot station and approached the counter asking about Western Union.

“Well, yes, we have it here, but the machine ain’t working.”

It was as if a dark cloud just opened up and dumped all that bad mojo on me. And it continued to rain.

“No, please don’t tell me that…..”

“Sorry, honey. There’s a Western Union down the street at Seavy’s, but they’re closed. I think there’s one at Walmart, too. Let me call for you.”

She called Walmart and customer service closed at 10 pm.

“Honey, you’re in Dickson. Life ceases here at 9 pm.”

That was it. I felt like I was going to break. All I could do was mutter, “I just want to go home……”

I didn’t have enough gas or money to make it home and Bill had wired the money here. So I had no recourse but to stay until one of the stores with a Western Union opened at 7 am. It was 10:30 pm.

It was going to be a very, very long night.

“Honey, I have a Suburban outside. Why don’t you park your bike next to that and crawl into the back and try to get some sleep. Are you hungry?”

I had no appetite. I just knew I was stranded. Here. In Small Town, Tennessee.

I graciously accepted her offer to catch some sleep in her Suburban, parked the bike next to it, transferred valuables into the back seat with me, and curled up to try and sleep. Which was near impossible with all the noise and lights. I dozed off and on in between voices, slamming doors, and rain pattering on the roof. I jumped out of the vehicle to retrieve the tank bag, helmet, and pulled off the sheepskin pad. I used that as a pillow.

I barely remember waking and sauntering into the store in stocking feet to find the bathroom. I couldn’t open my eyes in the glaring light and must have looked a sight with my over pants halfway unzipped and a squinting sleepy face. I felt like a little kid in a strange house.

I was woken at 5 am since the woman left her shift at 6 am. She gave me a big cup of coffee and told me I could hang out there anywhere until 7 am and the store with the Western Union opened. I thanked her profusely. Several times.

So I spent the next two hours looking and feeling lost, but glad it was morning.

Shortly before 7 am, I rode in the direction I was pointed, looking for the store. I couldn’t find it. Remembering the directions for Walmart, I rode further down and pulled into their parking lot.

Walking inside, I was told that their money center didn’t have Western Union. But that the local K-mart and Kroger did. Getting directions, I rode several miles to the K-mart and saw on the door that it didn’t open until 8 am.

Frustration was beginning to eat at me again, so I asked a person in the parking lot for directions to the Kroger. Pulling into the parking lot, I saw the comforting sign of Western Union on the wall by the door. I walked into the Kroger and asked where it was and was directed to the customer service counter. And told it didn’t open until 8 am. I had another 50 minutes.

By now, I wore exasperation all over me. I sauntered over to the counter, leaned my head against the wall and closed my eyes to rest. A woman behind the counter was equipping all the registers with money drawers and after half an hour asked me what I needed.

I told her a money transfer wired to me at the Pilot station near the highway, but their machine was down. And that I spent the night there waiting for another place with a Western Union to open.

She was kind enough to process the transfer at 7:45 and I now had enough cash to make it home. With a huge sense of relief, I started the bike, filled it with gas and I was on my way.


By that time, my only thought and intent was to ride the highway home. This trip had lost heart a long time ago. It lacked the usual motivation and enjoyment that I always have when I’m on the road and on a journey. But this time, I wasn’t even sure this one was worth the rubber off my tires.

I rode and stopped only to fill the tank with gas. Just east of Memphis the sky opened up and I rode through the city in a deluge. Luckily it was past rush hour and traffic wasn’t too bad, but I kept a safe speed and distance aware of the slick road conditions and reduced visibility. Although I avoided getting too wet, the temperature was warm enough that the dampness didn’t bother me.

Just east of Little Rock, Arkansas, the Road Warrior surfaced and I decided I was not stopping. I was going to ride straight through.

To home.


posted by Macrobe
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