Thursday, March 5, 2009

"Harlem Shuffle" (Day Four Continued)

"Harlem Shuffle" (Day Four Continued)

After leaving Bear Paw Battlefield: I continued along the Hi Line (Route 2 - and very similar to the Mohawk Trail in Massachusetts, only flattter). My next town would be Harlem, Montana. Harlem is not at all like the Harlem that we know in the Northeast. It has a tiny population, and it is mostly made up of native Americans. A reservation abuts the town, and I stopped at the one gas station to top off the tank in my car (I had been advised to do this whenever possible, because you never know where the next place to get gas will come about, and you don't want to run out of fuel out here!)

At first glance, it looked like any other Gas station. The difference is that instead of a Subway or a Dunkin Donuts, Pete's Mexican Food is what you can get.

I also notice that out of the half dozen or so people in the gas station... I am the only white person. It was not my intention to go inside, but after fueling with my debit card, and pressing receipt it said "SEE ATTENDANT INSIDE FOR RECEIPT". So I venture in.

I am greeted by a stoic looking man with half his teeth missing. But I get the feeling he is not smiling because I am not one of them. He was smiling and chatting with the woman who was in front of me, but when I step up (after a sullen pause and hardly a glance at me) I get, "yes?"

"I'm just here to get the receipt for the gas at the pump next to the blue car"

another pause...

"I need your card"

"but I already used my card to pay for it"

"if you want a receipt, I need to swipe your card again"

Now it is my turn to pause... as I am ready to say "forget it", but instead I hand him the card a second time.

As he swipes my card, I notice a bunch of cigarette lighters in the display case next the register.

A KISS ARMY CIGARETTE LIGHTER - complete with Gene, Paul, Peter and Ace's images clearly printed on the front.

I am struck by irony - as I wonder if he would treat those four VERY PALE FACED New Yorkers (from Queens, as opposed to Harlem) with the same lack of friendliness he currently is showing to me?

I even say "thank you" as he is printing the receipt, but he simply shoves the paper at me... looking away the entire time.

Nice! After I visited Bear Paw Battlefield, and actually felt bad that my ancestors nearly exterminated his people. But I digress. To him, I am clearly just another ignorant white tourist.

I hop into my car, and as I pull away, I notice another sign on the side of the gas station announcing additional services (to go with gas, mexican food, and cigarette lighters) It reads in very large letters.


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