I’m driving deep South. Somewhere between Cowpens and Mobile I recognize my sleep deprivation after almost driving off the side of 65S, awoken only by the ominous du-du-du-du-du of my car careening to the right. I wake myself with a few slaps to the face and turn the radio up. There’s a Norwegian metal band playing, which is, suffice to say, sufficient (and good) noise to keep my brain going at least at minimal capacity until the next exit.
It’s around noon. I’ve been driving ten hours.
It’s been…er…very hot these last few days. Off to the West are floods, tornados, and massive storms. Here in the Southeast we’re getting remnants of those pockets of precipitation.
I pull off to the nearest gas station. It’s coupled with a 24 hour grocery store—one checkout.
There’s a black man at the pump. He doesn’t work there. Just hanging out.
“Where am I?” I ask.
“Prichard, son,” he says.
I pull out my phone. “Ah, I’m only a few miles away.”
I’m hungry. I know Alabama’s not the best place to grab a snack for a vegan, but this gas station/grocery store looks somewhat promising. There’s a sign for a smoothie/sandwich shop in the back. I grab a basket.
As I walk down the isle, adorned in cowboy hat, blue Lennon-esque sunglasses, tattoos from sleeve to wrist, I notice the common stares, as if I’m a mafia member or something. But these stares are less-than-usual than what I’m used to in the Mid-Lant or even in the Middle East; these are objectively disapproving stares. These people dislike me for some reason.
I grab my smoothie. Peaches, bananas, and blueberries. I pick up a six pack of Red Stripe. And some kettle chips. Oh and some floss and a serving of vegetable dumplings, which were horrid. I make my way to the checkout. There’s a line. Waiting. Waiting. Waiting. Finally it’s my turn.
“We listen to God’s music here,” the woman said, before turning me away.
I realized I was wearing a t-shirt with an emblem that reads: “DEVIL’S MUSIC” and has a Rob Zombie-like devil illustration on it.
I protested, and she finally agreed to take my money. But before I left I turned to her and said the most atheist thing an atheist could say to a Christian.
“Only Christ can judge me.”
I only did it to make her feel bad. Kill ’em with Christ-ness.