As I drove back the following day, I heard much more of the same – and it hit me that I could now actually consider having a reasonably pleasant conversation with the right-wing farmers and ranchers who occupied the region. I decided that I would stray from barreling up the I-5 freeway and divert onto Highway 33, which passes through the farming towns of Gustine, Newman, Patterson, and my target destination, Crows Landing. Crows Landing is the home of the only fiercely conservative relatives in my family – the ones I prefer to avoid at all costs. In fact, I had avoided them for so long that I have no idea where they actually live, but it was somehow liberating to feel that I could drive through their town, looking for the most redneck truck stop café, and have a ready topic of conversation with any local I happened to meet.
Well, Crow’s Landing is small, and the only place to eat turned out to be a small taqueria that was operated out of a trailer in the parking lot of a feed store, so I stopped next to the tractors and pickups that were parked nearby. Since it was a takeout place, I never did get to have that conversation with a local conservative. I ended up eating my carne asada super burrito in the front seat of my car, in the shade of a large tree next to the Harvest Community Church, where I’m sure I would normally get the willies and have to leave immediately. It was quite relaxing! As I pulled out of town after finishing my lunch, I resisted the urge to stop and buy a cowboy hat from the guy selling them, like boxes of fruit, from the back of a large flatbed truck – to commemorate my new kinship with these conservatives.
And as I drove off down the highway, I imagined myself joining them in singing the chorus of a song that I had recently heard on the radio - a song with which they were surely familiar. We were singing it to George Bush in response to his support for the deal that would allow the United Arab Emirates to manage American ports. The chorus went like this (with "credit" to Toby Keith):
Justice will be served
And the battle will rage
This big dog will fight
When you rattle his cage
And you’ll be sorry that you messed
with The U.S. of A.
`Cause we`ll put a boot in your ass
It`s the American way.