#3 In Roads-Gas Guy
Already my resolve is being tested and I’m glad there aren’t a bunch of rules to this project. I’m busy with a cover story that’s already a week late so I’ve been wrestling with adjectives and adverbs in between trying to get stuff rounded up for the ride tomorrow where I’ll leave the Beast with friends as I blast off on a pre-dawn flight Monday morning. It would be easy to skip heading out to meet some new person. Or easier still to cheat. I took this on to nudge me into some sort of personal growth, to get me to reach out to meet people, so the suggestion of writing about a friend and passing them off as a new acquaintance smacks of moral defect as far as I’m concerned. I hadn’t considered all these factors when friends were expressing their doubts about my being able do this everyday for a year yet here I am, day three, echoing their concerns. But I’m stubborn above all else so, inconvenient or not, I make me gather my camera and my guts and head to the local gas station to see if I can approach a stranger. I’ve begun to view these folks as my victims and I’m hoping the guy filling the propane tanks is an easy subject since we’re out of gas for the grill here. There’s a party going on with oysters and dead cow to grill. And there’s good company that’s hard to leave. There’s also wine. I put on my shoes.
Gas guy is nice. He’s not chatty but he’s polite. He shares that he’s from Redwood Valley and stocks the beer coolers inside in between filling propane bottles. He’s happy for the newly constructed pole shelter that offers shade and he gets the same shift every day and he’s really busy with the warmer weather. He feels sorry for the work mates who have the late shift, since they complain of boredom. He’s happy for his job and smiles as he hands over the gas ticket. I ask if I can take his picture. Laughing he says, “Sure, I just did some spring cleaning, got a hair cut and I look good, so go ahead.” I assure him he looks lovely and thank him for his patience, but I don’t tell why I want his picture and he doesn’t ask. I don’t much consider today a successful interaction as I head back to the party. Pretty sure a glass of California merlot will help me get over that, and maybe fortify my on going discomfort with telling friends goodbye and forming paragraphs about an already forgotten run.