Sunday, September 25, 2005

Eccentric Rant #1

BTW, I'm resting for a day in Danville, IL. Yesterday, I drove well over 1,000 miles, starting in Rapid City, SD, across all of Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Illinois (Danville is on the border of IL and Indiana). I'll hit Pittsburgh tomorrow.

Pittsburgh will be my "hub" for a few weeks. Going to stop at my brother and sister-in-law's place to visit, then head to WV to see my extended family and roots (I haven't seen them in years and years), OH to see my sister and remind myself of the place I escaped; NC to see a couple of friends there. Between these trips, I'll head back to spend time at Bro's place.

The drive here reminded me of one thing I *really* miss about the lower 48 -- spectacular thunderstorms. It rained from the time I hit Minnesota all the way to the Indiana border, and the lightning was as remarkable as the Northern Lights. At times, the rain was pouring down so hard it, when it hit the windshield it made the sound of ice thrown into a deep fryer.

I hadn't really planned on driving so long, but with all the rain, there was really no practical way to set up a campsite anywhere, so I decided to take a hotel.

My first attempt at that was Austin, MN -- every hotel was booked for high school conventions, so I figured I'd just move on. Every town I stopped at was booked solid. By the time I hit Champaign, IL, I could drive no further. Here, too, every room was booked -- for a football game. I called around to neighboring towns and found an open suite in Danville, about 1/2-hour away. Here, every room but one was booked for a gospel revival.

Me + hundreds of tent evangelists = recipe for disaster.

I don't know what gives people the license to walk up to someone they've never met and say (for all intents), "Hi. I don't know you, but you're completely incorrect about the nature of the universe, and unless you're exactly like me, you suck."

There was a time when I would have fought it out with them, but I believe I'm getting a little wiser. The chaos approach is much more entertaining.

When I arrived to retrieve my reservation, the gospelists were gathering to consume their continental breakfast -- dozens of women and children and a few men, all amazingly overdressed in their Sunday costumes. After 19 hours of driving, I looked and acted pretty haggardly -- If not for the shiny credit card, I might have been mistaken for a heroin addict off the street.

The staff had mistakenly told me there was a single room available, and told me they'd give me a suite instead. I collapsed onto the counter and said, "I don't care. I've just driven from SD, and I really need a room, a shower, and lots of sleep."

One of the overdressed woman gospelists in a white lampshade hat approached me and said, "What you really need is JEE-sus-uh!"

(The crowd stirred to life, and a single "hallelujah" emerged.)

I kept a very friendly, sincere smile and demeanor throughout. "Jesusah? Is that a different hotel? I'm not from around here."

"No, Jesus!" she exclaimed, beaming like a Pepsodent model. "You need Jesus, boy!"

"What's that?"

"You know, Jesus!"

"No, I told you I'm not from around here. Where is that place? What do they sell?"

She got a "Whatchu-talkin'-'bout-Willis" look on her face. "Jesus. The living son of GOD!"

("Halleluja!" "Praise him!" "Amen!" from the group)

"Oh. Who's that?"

"YOU DON'T KNOW WHO GOD IS!?" With this, at least 2 dozen of them approached the counter and started mumbling and getting worked up for a session. Little amens and hallelujahs began boiling up regularly from the now-near-dancing crowd.

"What. He a local celebrity or something? Really, lady, I don't live around here, I'm from thousands of miles away."

She started preaching to me, as if she believed that I'd never heard of the guy, telling me that he created us all, then sent his son to be killed horribly. Her voice was singing, complete with that gospel-preaching vibrato, when a very large man in an Amway-blue suit tapped her on the arm and whispered in her ear. She paused and listened for a moment, then looked at me with that whatchu-talkin'-'bout-Willis look again.

"You goin' ta hell. Dat's all dere is. You goin' ta HELL!" Mumbles, amens and hallelujahs from the group reassured her judgement.

"Well, I was going to Pittsburgh, but I have time to travel. Where's that? Good attractions there? I'm kinda mad that the Spam Museum in Austin, MN was closed when I passed through, so I'm looking for something fun. What exit do I take?"

She gathered her children within her arms and backed slowly away from me, never taking her eyes off me, and Amway-man slowly stepped between her and me, as if he felt I was a threat, just as the staff member returned with my keycard.

I smiled and said, "Welp, have a good morning, and thanks for the recommendation. I'll look it up in the tourist guide."

5 Comments:

Blogger malek tawus said...

now thats the miller i know and love!

12:59 PM  
Blogger bajabbers said...

funniest thing ever

5:27 PM  
Blogger malek tawus said...

eagerly awaiting next installment of travels through jesuslandia

1:48 PM  
Blogger RG Geiger said...

Agree! Your having too much fun, and your going to Hell, HA!! Found out I may be in the running for a new job, doing what I do but not only for Anchorage but Roseburg, WhiteCity and some other small place. upside: big raise, downside: It's in Vancouver WA but for the money I get I could fly back up every couple weeks if I can convince my family to stay put.hmmmm

11:05 AM  
Blogger malek tawus said...

bob, you can give me the job instead ;)

1:13 PM  

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