The gas station is quiet today. I pull in and keep the radio running. The announcer is talking about two tropical storms heading for the Gulf Coast.
Where the storms will land, nobody knows. The meteorologists have taken to calling the two approaching systems “dueling storms.”
As of this morning, the storms are veering for Texas and Louisiana. That could all change tomorrow.
The announcer says: “...And the dueling storms could combine in a rarely seen natural occurrence, circulating together, and the catastrophic destruction would be…”
There is a woman at the pump beside me. She is Latina, with a backseat full of children. I ask what she thinks about the storms. Just to get a feel for what people are thinking.
She has a red surgical mask and a soft voice. “Oh, I never know what to think. I don’t feel right hoping for storms to go somewhere else. That would just mean it’s gonna hurt other people. So I don’t know.”
I notice a crucifix hanging from her rearview mirror.
She’s right. A hurricane is coming.
It’s going somewhere. Someone’s losing a house. Hoping for such a storm to avoid me personally seems like a selfish thought.
The woman goes on, “So I just pray for everyone to be safe. This is what I tell my kids. We pray maybe for the storm to weaken.”
On my other side, a man is tying lumber to his truck, pumping diesel. No mask. I ask what his thoughts are about the dueling storms. At first he ignores me. He’s not exactly Joe Friendly.
Finally, he says, “I don’t care what happens, dude, as long as it’s not hitting me.” Then he drives away.
Funny. Ask two people, and you will get two different answers.
The cashier behind the gas-station counter has an even more distinct outlook. She is tall, wiry, with a surgical mask bearing the Wonder Woman logo.