During my RV travels I landed at a small resort town near a big lake. An odd town, home-town hick-ish but with big-city chain retail stores. Everybody wore swim suits — everywhere.
I visited an electronics store seeking batteries for my radio. Scantily-clad, tattooed people stood around chatting. I wandered every aisle and came up empty. I went to the deserted check out counter and waited.
I scanned the store hoping to find an employee, but the nearly-naked visitors were the only life forms. I fished some coins from my pocket and clattered them on the counter hoping to attract attention.
I scooped up my money and headed for the exit. One of the ladies called to me, “Did you need something, hon?”
“You work here?!” Where’s the uniform?
“I don’t think we have those,” she said and resumed chatting with her companions.
My birthday approached and I decided to celebrate by sampling local cuisine. I powered up my pay-by-the-nanosecond RV phone and called the Chamber of Commerce for a recommendation.
“A restaurant for a birthday dinner? Better call the radio station. They make a big deal over birthdays. Got their number? There’s also the casino and a new Italian place.”
I called the casino, some 30 miles up the highway.
A young lady answered, “The casino doesn’t have a restaurant, only a buffet.”
“What are the hours for lunch?”
“I’m not sure, exactly. I think eleven to five.”
“How much is it?”
“I don’t know. Maybe $11.95 and $3 off or something with your gambling card.”
“Okay. What kind of food?”
“I don’t really know. You could come in and look if you wanted to.”
Never mind. I could only guess how she was dressed. I checked the phone display to see how many minutes the call cost — about the same as the buffet.
I called the new Italian restaurant next. A man answered and told me to hold, then put the phone down and carried on a conversation with someone there about fishing. I waited more long, expensive minutes and said the heck with it.
I bet he was wearing shorts and flip-flops. Am I in Jimmy Buffett-ville?
My last call was to find directions to the local mechanic.
A man answered. “Okay, y’know where Old Bob’s garage used to be?”
“I’ve never been here before.”
“Right. Well, you turn left right there, and … hang on a sec.” The phone clattered to the counter.
“No! Don’t put me on hold! I can’t afford it!”
I went to a mailbox store to mail a story to my editor. The only life forms inside were two grubby children roughhousing on the floor. The phone rang and rang. The back door was open — people stood around smoking. Eventually a lady sauntered in, wearing — you guessed it — bikini and tattoos.
Next season I traveled through Odd Town and not one of those businesses were open. Ever hear “Dress for Success”?
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Cate Mueller is a web designer, editor, reporter and photographer in Bouse, Arizona. To visit her website, click here.