Somewhere in West Virginia, we pulled off for a bathroom break after seeing signs for a dozen gas stations, fast-food joints, and hotels. We exited prematurely, though, and found only a single run-down station at the roadside. The bathrooms were also out of order (predictably, an earlier visitor that evening had trashed them), so the attendant suggested that Ron could use the bushes. I was kind of out of luck.
As Ron headed out behind the building, I pulled out my wallet and the forty-something clerk asked me if it was a Vera Bradley. Mine wasn't, but the bag she pulled out was--and she quickly launched into how it was the second one her new boyfriend had given her, and how he wanted to meet her children even though they'd only been dating a few weeks. As it turns out, she had six kids, but the oldest, a twenty-one-year-old, had died last year serving over seas. Another, only three years old, passed away shortly before that. Her marriage fell apart in the ensuing months.
I don't know if there's a moral or lesson in this, but I do know that we also stopped at the next exit, which turned out to be the one with all the flashy gas stations. And although the restrooms worked perfectly (for which I was grateful, don't get me wrong), I can't say I remember a single detail about the stop otherwise.
Oh, and alligator ice? Some kind gas-station slushy drink.