There are few things better in life than a full tank of gas, an open road, and new songs on the iPod. Those things are less good when your road trip takes you from Memphis to Mobile, Alabama. My drive today could have been a case study in rural poverty. Almost 400 miles of nothing dotted with trailers, closed storefronts, and the battle flag of the Army of Northern Virginia fluttering over it all. Having grown up “down the crick,” I thought I knew something about the indigenous redneck subculture of the Eastern United States.
Clearly, I was wrong on that score. Sure, I know intellectually that there are examples of crushing poverty easily within a few miles drive of where I grew up, but I really hadn’t ever given much thought to places like that still existing… but there they are. Right there on the roadside somewhere, almost anywhere, between Memphis and Mobile. Once you manage to overlook the scenery, or the distinct lack of scenery, it was a hell of a drive. I think on my way back to Memphis, I’ll plot an all-interstate course to avoid the unpleasantness on my way back to suburban bliss.