September 14, 2005




Start: Raleigh, North Carolina
End:
Columbia, South Carolina
Mileage: 234 miles
Route taken: Route 1 to Interstate 26, exit at
Columbia.


        Here was the quandary that greeted me as I began my day.

        The outer bands of Hurricane Ophelia were whipping towards Raleigh and the weather satellite was showing rain coming my way by late morning.

        If I hustled I could probably outrun it. The storm was moving northeast and I was traveling southwest. Our paths would intersect more the later it got.

        My problem was this was the only state, well Nevada might be another, where there was a warrant for my arrest.

        It wasn’t for anything more than a traffic citation, but my attempts to pay it were spurned and so I took the gamble.

        That made speeding a far more dubious obstacle than a fine. It meant I was going to ruin my streak of staying out of jail.

        I hate rain and I hate windy rain even more. So I figured I would press my luck and hit the throttle on the bike.

        It was definitely a gamble. As I was speeding down Highway 1, the thought of that warrant definitely kept my eyes open.

        In 1999 I was covering the U.S. Open for the newspaper I was working for and was traveling from Charlotte, North Carolina to Pinehurst when I got pulled over for speeding.

        I was guilty and had every intention of paying the ticket when I got home. I got the notice in the mail and on it was in bold letters that said, “No checks or credit cards accepted.”

        So I called and told them my situation and they didn’t care, and I wasn’t about to buy a money order. Then the stubborn German in me came out and I said, “What, you don’t have any banks in that cousin-humping state of yours?”

        Probably not the A answer, I know, but it seemed appropriate at the time. So I was going to make a stand and send a check. I sent the check with a note that says this is how I am paying the ticket. Well they sent it back un- cashed, so I guess they don’t have any banks. I’m not sure about the relations between cousins, however.

        Because of my smart aleck response, I am in the last year before the statute runs out on the warrant and subsequently I am dodging troopers for the next four hours as I drive through North Carolina.

        All is well and I am approaching Pinehurst, the scene of my earlier sins, when I see a site that reminds me I am in the south.

A chain gang was working on the side of the highway. They don’t actually wear chains, but are under the supervision of two guards, one of whom is toting a shotgun.



I took a quick picture before the guard started walking my way to chase me off. The prisoners didn’t seem to mind it. They enjoyed seeing the bike and I got a few ways.

That is definitely one of the scenes that gives the south a bad reputation. The other is the confederate flag. I have seen them as decals in the back of trucks, flying under American flags outside of houses and on t-shirts.

                                                           

To some in the south the Civil War is still being fought. Don’t ever say Civil War to a redneck. It is the war of northern aggression.

I learned that when I was in the North Carolina earlier this year and drinking at a bar. I was talking with a couple of local boys who were like they were out of central casting for two rednecks.

“You from California?” one of them asked. “Yes, I said.” He looked at his friend and said, “There’s a lot of faggots in California, isn’t there?”      

I was going to ask about the confederate flag and other topics, but decided I would wait for two more gentleman that had a slightly higher I.Q. than a pair of peach pits.

It is the one thing that disturbs about the South. Racism still exists and I have never understood the hatred that is bred and passed down. The word nigger is freely used and the contempt for blacks and the stereotypes that are thrown around in casual conversation is astounding.

Ignorance really is a pet peeve of mine, but I won’t be able to change it in one casual conversation. I will say something to someone when they mention it, but I doubt it makes a difference.