When False Advertising Merges into Cruelty

You’re driving on the highway. You’ve been driving on the highway for hours. And hours. And hours. Maybe you’re on your way from New York to Austin, Texas for SXSW. The Mid-Atlantic states long ago began to bleed into one another — Pennsawestvirginhioky — and all you want is for one of them to have something to show for itself — roadside attraction, lake, brush fire. That, and a cup of coffee. God, you need a cup of coffee.

You realize you’re under the speed limit when an oil truck appears from within the gaping blind spot of this rental van and merges into your lane. It’s a Pilot truck, splattered with an advertisement for the gas and mega-mini-mart chain that’s duke if not king in these parts. The behemoth slides itself to fill your frame of view and teases you with the sublime and impossible suggestion that you’re gaining ground on a tanker truck full to capacity with the caffeinated black  gold you lust for.

You imagine the possibilities of  pulling alongside and filling up. An interstate iteration of mid-air refueling. Your head bobs to the gentle sloshing of salvation. Blearily you snap out of it and sputter a mangled “Oh, you assholes” as you pull off at the next exit, restore energy and regain dignity with a defiant Dixie cup of joe from the Shell station.

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