The sound was unmistakable. About 14 heavy metal hogs rumbled to a stop either behind my car or on the other side of the pumps. I should probably move my car, no telling what kind of mood these guys were in. I set my drinks on the counter and waited for the pump jockey to come back in.
Instead, he placed the nozzle back in its home on the side of the pump and as I watched and waited he began talking to the guy that parked immediately behind my car. Removing his helmet, he reached out and grabbed gasboy’s hand with a hearty handshake. Must be the leader…., maybe they’re friendly. I could not make out the conversation, but the biker had a distinct accent. German? Maybe Norwegian. Something like that.
“How much on the pump?” Startled, I turned back to the counter to find it manned by a guy I hadn’t noticed at first and somewhat reminded me of a thinner Sheriff Joe Arpaio. Very similar, actually, right down to the revolver he was packing. It fit him very well. Like an old leather belt that’s worn everyday and conforms to the waist and belt loops, the brown leather holster and polished metal of the weapon seemed to be a permanent part of the tanned and weathered individual that was wearing them.
“How much gas did you get?” He rang up the drinks and waited for me to compose myself and answer. “Uh…twenty, twenty bucks.” He added it to the bill. The drinks were almost as much as the gas! I gave him the cash and gave me a bit of change in return. I picked up my purchase and looked at the cap on the Coke. He read the look on my face and pointed to the opener screwed to the front of the counter. Perfect! I popped the top and guzzled till my eyes watered. Ahhh, more briskness! “Drive safe.” I saluted with the frosty bottle of cold sweet goodness. “Always.” Then I remembered an important issue “Got a restroom?” He motioned with one hand as he closed the register drawer with the other. “Building around back.”
I nodded and pushed the door open and was greeted a blast of dry, hot air that must have simmered all day on the middle of that dilapidated blacktop and, disturbed by all those Harleys, chose me as its target of retribution. I gasped and struggled to keep the door from flying out of my grip.
I decided the smart thing to do would be to move my car out of the gas lane to an area closer to the restroom. As I got to the car, the riders had already dismounted and were excitedly trading observations or experiences. I recognized a German word or two, but others were speaking what had to be Norwegian. European tourists! On Harleys!
The cameras were already out and a group had assembled in the middle of the highway. Group photos in front of Roy’s and next to the big white Route 66 on the road. I smiled. They were certainly excited and having a great time. Cameras were handed off as the owners posed for the folks back home. One guy looked like he was striking a “Fonzi” pose as his wife chattered behind the camera.
I pulled away from the pumps and over to an area near the restrooms. There were a couple of picnic tables under the shade of an ancient and gnarled tree. I set the nearly empty Coke on a table where the local flock hadn’t crapped yet and fired up a cig. Looked like the photo op was coming to a close as the riders piled into the old diner for drinks and a chat with the Sheriff. The restrooms were quite busy for a while so I waited and finished off the smoke and Coke then went in and took my turn at the stainless steel trough in the men’s room.
The sound of one of those big hogs firing up was very distinct and when about a dozen light up at the same time, it’s also very loud. I exited the facility just in time to see the group heading off towards the west and more Americana adventure. I watched and listened as they roared out of sight. It was still and quiet at Roy’s once again….