The End of the Road?

Bill Bryson in The lost Continent was looking for the prettiest town in America but falls short of finding one with all his desired attributes so goes about constructing his dream town of Amalgam from different towns with the bits he takes a shine to. A motel here, a Main Street there, a barbershop, a five-and-dime, an authentic and original movie theater, not the dreaded multiplex with screens the size of “bath towels.” A picturesque downtown with real stores were cherry-picked and, well, amalgamated.

As I pondered this we were on a long straight stretch of county road through rural Georgia. A gaggle of police cars with blue lights flashing appeared in the distance. A fierce-looking state trooper waived us down. My eyes fixed on the gun in his holster that bobbed on his disproportionately large hips. He approached, proceeded by his belly and a big cigar and grimly informed us that he was going to do an “equipment check.”

So it’s to be Georgia where we are disappeared by the local police – not Louisiana, not Alabama, not Texas as some so-called friends and erstwhile relatives had led me to believe.

Step out of the car. Hands behind your head. On your knees. Bang! was the scene that flashed through my mind and knocked out all thoughts of a pretty home town.

Before I had a chance to beg for my life the trooper had checked our headlights, blinkers, brake lights and horn. When he’d decided we were fit to continue to drive through his state his pudgy face softened into friendliness.

“You’ve come a long way,” he chuckled on seeing our Washington license plates. Little did he know that that was our second pass ’round the country – on track for 20,000 miles by the time we looped back to Washington State.

Jimmy replied, “We didn’t do it all today,” and they laughed companionably.

“Well y’all drive safe. God love ya!” and his toothy grin was topped off by twinkling eyes.

God and the State Trooper seem to love us enough to let us pass through Georgia.

If God really loved me He’d find me a house in Amalgam.

40 thoughts on “The End of the Road?

  1. Hated driving thru Georgia when I had NY plates on the car, hate driving in Texas with Texas plates on the car LOL Can’t talk them troopers out a nothing!!! guess my NY accent doesn’t help even if I have a TX license!!!

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    1. Well they didn’t find it in our car. I think it was a quiet day at the cop shop and they were just amusing themselves and passing the time of day with the tourists. The sun was shining. Why sit behind a desk?

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  2. We are continuously stopped by police for checks on vehicles, almost an everyday thing… does it worry us? No, what worries us is they pull over all the good cars Mercs, BMW, Audis etc and let the crap pass on by… I think it might have something to do with them looking for bribes… they pull my Mazda 6 over a lot, find nothing wrong and in any case I would not pay a bribe, so get out the car, hands behind your head and bang, might just be the sounds I make…

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      1. I’m an ugly son of a bitch and always look as though I’m about to beat some sense in to you… so I think they don’t ask for a bribe, just let me go on my merry way…

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  3. Had me going there with the: step out of the car, hands behind your head, on your knees, but once I got to bang! I got the joke (a bit slow I know). Great story, Hector and I just commented on the amount of police on the roads in Arizona, 10 miles from the California border we’d passed three police cars in the median. Not to mention the border check. But we got through once again.
    Brenda

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  4. I’m “reading” Bryson’s “I’m a Stranger Here Myself” for the second time. Actually, I don’t read his books if I can get them in audio (to listen while I drive). He reads them himself and really brings them alive. He is fantastic. Especially the humor.

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  5. Like many of the commenters before me, I LOVE Bill Bryson. I would not, however, have liked the experience of being randomly pulled over in Georgia. Like you, my mind would have fast forwarded through every bad scene I could imagine. Loved the punchline 🙂

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      1. LOL! I always thought my mother did a good job of instilling a healthy dose of guilt – for everything – in each of us and that’s why we automatically cringe when we see police headed our way 🙂

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    1. One day I will add them all to date. It’s quite a bit more than that. Must sit down with himself and diaries and a calculator and come up with a total (so far). Wrecked the engine and transmission on the Tahoe. Right now the truck is resting!

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    1. I enjoyed A Walk in the Woods very much but better him than me. I don’t think our RV would fit on the Appalachian Trail! And I’m not up for tents and sleeping bags, or in fact walking 2,200 miles!

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  6. Glad to hear it wasn’t the end of the road after all! Very catchy title. Bill Bryson is one of my faves and should he read this post I think he would be very enchanted by your writing style.

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