I’d decided to go to Bigger Babylon on my day off to shop at Trader Joe’s. (I especially like their precooked brown rice. For $1.69, you get a couple of servings. Sure, I could buy raw brown rice cheaper, but by the time I used fuel to cook it for 45 minutes, I don’t think I’d be saving much–if any–money.)
I checked for truck stops in Bigger Babylon and discovered there was a Flying J with showers and public laundry facilities. Flying J is my favorite of the truck stop brands, so I was happy to find one.
I arrived around eight o’clock on a Monday night. The first thing I did was look for the laundry facilities. The three washers and six dryers were tucked in a narrow hallway between the truckers’ lounge (which consisted of about a dozen padded, possibly comfy chairs and a flat screen television mounted high up on the wall) and the showers.
As I looked across the truckers’ lounge, I noticed a woman sitting in the back row of chairs. Lone women lingering at truck stops are rare enough to be noticeable. Of course, there are women truckers and the wives of truckers who ride along, but this woman had a certain look about her. Her short blond hair was slicked back. She was wearing all black, and although she was a big woman, her top was sleeveless and strapless, showing off a large tattoo on her upper chest. (I think the tattoo was a word, a name perhaps, but I didn’t let my eyes linger on it long enough to read it.) She was wearing a “gold” choker made up of large, rectangular links. But really though, it was the shoes that gave her away. No trucker or trucker’s wife would be wearing shoes like those at the Flying J. They were black with high, high heels. She was sitting with one knee crossed over the other, dangling one of those ridiculous shoes off the end of her toes. If we’d been in a strip club, I’d have thought of them as stripper shoes, but since we were in a truck stop, all I could think was HOOKER!
I’ve been in a lot of truck stops all over the United States of America, and I have never before looked at a woman in one of them and so clearly thought HOOKER. (I’ve heard that prostitutes that work truck stops are referred to as “lot lizards.” See Urban Dictionary: http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=lot+lizard) I’m not scandalized by sex workers and don’t think it’s necessarily morally wrong to buy or sell sex, but this woman didn’t look particularly enpowered or even happy. She looked really sad. What could be sadder than a truck stop hooker sitting in the truckers’ lounge and getting no attention? What career choices does a lady have once she has failed as a truck stop hooker?
I walked through the truckers’ lounge, trying not to give off any vibes that would attract attention, making eye contact with no one. I dumped some detergent in two of the washers and loaded in my clothes. There was no change machine in the laundry area, so I had to walk back through the lounge and to the front counter registers to get quarters. Each washer cost $2.25 a load, so I put in the quarters and let the machines get to work.
It was so hot outside and especially in my van, that I just stayed inside and texted friends while waiting for my clothes to be ready for the dryer. The dryers also cost $2.25 each. A sign on one of them said a cycle lasted 45 minutes. Although the dryer did run for a really long time, my clothes were still disappointingly damp when the cycle ended. I was not going to pay another $2.25 or hang around in there any longer, so I just folded my clothes and shoved them in my tote bags, knowing that the desert heat would dry everything. Unfortunately, my work shirts didn’t look clean, and in fact maybe looked worse than they did before going through the wash. I won’t do laundry there again.
After a hot and mostly sleepless night in the van, I went inside before 6am and paid $12 for a shower. After waiting no more than fifteen minutes, my shower customer number (69) was called, and the recorded computer man directed me to shower 2. For a moment I was confused because the door was closed, and I hadn’t been given a key. Then I realized that I had to enter the PIN on my receipt into the keypad next to the door. After putting in the code, the green light lit up, and I was in. Like the Love’s shower I reported on before, this one was impeccably clean. No mold. No mildew. No dirt. And the door had a deadbolt I secured from the inside.
Although I have no complaints about my shower at this Flying J, I won’t go out of my way to do it again.
To read more about how I stay clean while living in my van, go here: http://www.rubbertrampartist.com/2015/06/17/adventures-in-cleanliness/, here: http://www.rubbertrampartist.com/2015/06/18/more-adventures-in-cleanliness/, here: http://www.rubbertrampartist.com/2015/07/09/adventures-in-cleanliness-revisited/.