We’ve all accidently-or purposefully-dined at an establishment like this.
Somewhere In Kentucky
Somewhere in Kentucky – It was a truck stop. The sign in front didn’t say it was a truck stop, but it was a truck stop.
The fact there were a lot of trucks parked outside was my first clue. My second was that inside the restaurant there sat a lot of men wearing caps, smoking cigarettes and drinking coffee.
Truck drivers will, in fact, wear caps, smoke cigarettes and drink coffee.
It was raining. I was trying to get from Lexington to Memphis.
To travel by air between those two cities you have to connect through Cincinnati. Or maybe it was Salt Lake City.
It was lunch time. Eat right, say the lifestyle police, or you die.
OK, I’ll have the steamed vegetable plate, bottled water and yogurt for dessert so I can live to be a 112-year-old Russian.
The waitress’s name was Irene. She was pleasant.
“What’s it going to be, Hon?” she asked me.
To be honest, there weren’t many choices. There was no steamed vegetable plate or bottled water or yogurt on the menu.
About the only thing that wasn’t fried was the iced tea. I suppose liver and onions was the healthiest choice, but I ordered the chopped sirloin. I don’t eat raw fish, steamed vegetables or liver.
A chopped sirloin steak once was known as a hamburger steak. I saw a huge neon sign in Nashville recently advertising, “pre-owned vehicles.” They were once known as used cars.
Irene brought my chopped sirloin. It had a fried onion ring on top. I also had french fried potatoes and two white bread rolls, like you used to get all the time before it was decided white bread would send you to an early grave.
“Hope you enjoy it, Hon,” said Irene.
I did. The last time I had a hamburger steak this greasy and good was at Steve Smith’s Truck Stop back home in Moreland. It cost $1.25. This was only $4.95 over 30 years later.
As I ate I looked around. Randy Travis was playing on the jukebox. There were several families wearing the colors of a high school football team they were on their way to see play in the state finals in Louisville.
Some of the families were black. Others were white. The waitresses had pushed several tables together so they could eat as a group.
The mothers, I noticed, actually were allowing their children to eat those white rolls.
The truck driver sitting nearest to me was smoking an unfiltered Camel cigarette between bites of liver and onions.
I left Irene a little extra for her pleasantness and then went to the register. A rather stout young woman stood behind it .
“Evuh thang aw-rite?” she asked me. Peterbilt’s don’t rumble that low when they are cranked on cold mornings.
“It was fine,” I said to her, realizing I wouldn’t have dared told her otherwise if it hadn’t been. She took my money and then she gave me my change.
“Now you keep the rough side off the pavement and let the smooth side slide,” is what she said to me as I walked out.
Later, after I had time to think about it, I decided that is truck for, “Don’t sweat the small stuff.”
Fearing for my life, I only ate one of those two white rolls. If I had it to do over again, I would have eaten them both.