A Unique Thanksgiving Thanks
I live in Tennessee but I’ve been working in Kentucky this semester. So every day I cross the state line and read about the bluegrass of Kentucky and how it’s a great place to live. (On the way back I read about how wonderful it is to be a Volunteer and live in Tennessee.) Also at the state line the people of Kentucky have installed one of those giant over-the-road marquees that remind all drivers to buckle up because X number of people have been killed on Kentucky highways this year. Just when I’m digging the bluegrass, I’m reminded to do all I can to keep the car out of the bluegrass. When I started the semester teaching at Western Kentucky University in September, almost 350 people had lost their lives on the Kentucky highways. A very sobering number. Even more sobering when every day I watch that number change—always going up of course. Up five more today. Seven. Only three, that’s not so bad, I think. But each increment represents one whole life. Why can’t they announce how many acres of bluegrass have been sown instead? Toward the end of November the number was up to almost 700.
At mile seventeen there is an identical marquee. One day between mile one and 17 the number rose by two. “Stop it!” I yelled at the marquee, but intended it for all who were driving on the Kentucky highways that day.
The other morning I stopped at the rest stop, like I usually do because interstate rest stops are always so big and clean and friendly—and well lit. I stood shoulder-to-shoulder with one fellow at the urinal. Then again with the same fellow at the sinks. Once again at the automatic hand dryers. On the way out, and to the car, I found myself in lockstep with him. It was awkward and someone had to say something. He chose to: “Finally a hand dryer that works,” he said.
I agreed. (They have excellent hand dryers at the Kentucky state line rest stop. FYI). “It’s like they put a jet engine in those things,” I told him.
He nodded as we walked. “Yeah, really blow you away.”
I nodded as we walked.
“Of course,” he added, “Good old paper towels are just fine also.”
I barked a nostalgic laugh and said, “Can’t beat a good paper towel.” Where was that car of mine and why was it taking so long? “You have a good day,” I told him as I peeled off and climbed into my car. As I exited the rest stop I pulled beneath that monstrous marquee that told me three more people had lost their lives since this time the day before. I double-checked my seat belt and prayed a silent prayer that my “rest stop friend” had indeed completely dried his hands—via jet engine, paper towel or the backs of his pant legs—so that he could better grip the wheel and stay out of the bluegrass.