I met Mel from Ghana & Bill, an Iraq vet from NH. Mel was the most gorgeous, tall, dark and handsome gas station attendant I’ve ever seen. I mentioned i’d visited TZ, he asked why,so I told him. Mel took it as an opportunity to vent his anger. he is sick of everyone trying to help Africa, and suspects that HIV and other diseases were brought to Africa. I told him this may be true, but nobody knows how it really started. mel had a few other half-baked notions but he was so beautiful I just smiled indulgently and refuted his statements as gently as possible. I think what it came down to is that he doesn’t want his motherland & people (including himself) perceived as helpless or needy.
next gas stop was a podunk gas station somewhere further west on I-40. Bill was getting his hog ready to ride out as I arrived. I parked near him, in the shade & struck up a conversation. You know normally I don’t chat up guys on Harleys, but he was tall & cute, with NH veteran plates, and clearly on a long road trip. His ipod had overheated & wouldn’t start, and we got to talking about our trips. When we went inside for drinks, the cashier said something about the heat. Bill said “I’ll take 100° over 140° any day!” wow. no shit.
It’s hard enough to imagine any place on earth being that hot, much less having to fight a war in such heat. He’s on his way to LA, then Hawaii. as we parted ways, I told him I’m glad he survived. He replied “Yeah, the traffic on 40 was crazy!” I said “I wasn’t talking about I-40, I was talking about Iraq!” Made me so happy to see at least one soldier survive that hell and get to live his dream. A dream that probably kept him going the whole time he was over there.