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Don't Leave The Counter

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I've been traveling for most of my adult life

I've been traveling for most of my adult life. I was always the kind to get up and go whenever things got too serious or too heavy for me to bear. Needless to say, I was never great with relationships. The last few good years have just been me, my car, and my dog, Max, traveling the country, making a thousand new starts, and sneaking our way out of the world right before things got interesting. It was just life and we were living it.

I got Max when he was a puppy. I'm a pretty skinny guy – always have been since I was a kid – and Max was a German Shepherd, which was incredibly helpful for a guy living out of his car. My friends in high school, before I dropped out, used to call me Beanpole and joke that I could never find a girlfriend because I weighed less than ninety-five percent of the girls at our school. Max was my muscle. He had a large bark and a bigger bite. I've only seen him on the attack one time, when someone came up and tried to break into my car one evening as I slept in it. I opened the door and let Max out – he tore the man's sleeve off of his shirt, bit his forearm hard, and sent the man running, crying and screaming as he bolted. It was only that one time, but I knew from there on that Max was a force to be reckoned with. And he was my best friend.

I had just left the west coast - started out in Washington then made my way south towards L.A. before cutting east into the heart of America. I didn't know where I was headed to, but I knew I wanted to get away from Seattle and was thinking that maybe the other half of the country would treat me better. I lived all over this side of the good ol' U. S. of A. and couldn't help but wonder if maybe there would be something I could actually settle into over on the other end of the Mississippi. So I turned onto the highway and began yet another new journey in my life with Max sticking his head out the window, smiling as he always does.

Now, one of the nice things about these Middle America shitholes is that if you are hurting for work and you're not too picky, you can make yourself a buck or two without a problem. I'm not saying that you are going to get yourself a nice cozy job in an office or that you are even going to find yourself working indoors at all, but if you are willing to put some sweat on your brow, dirt on your jeans, and break your back a little each day, there are plenty of opportunities for a young man to fill his pockets. The economy may be in the tank, but for a vagabond, it couldn't be better. Everyone wants someone temporary. Everyone wants to save a buck. If you got the cash, us travelers are happy to fill in where you need us. And by the time I hit Texas, I was damn happy that this was the case.

My funds were pretty low a few hours out of Fort Worth on Interstate Twenty and it hit me that I need to find something to do before I continued any further. Max's stomach growled as much as mine did at this point, so I lucked out to find that the gas station off the highway was looking for some help. I figured it couldn't hurt to talk to the manager about staying and doing some stuff under the table before crossing the state line. Luckily, the manager was one of them evangelist Christian types who got his rocks off helping out poor souls like mine, and when I told him that I wanted to start a new life out east – with the Lord, of course – you'd think the man needed a new set of trousers.

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