Lead On, Sister Redneck

A few weekends ago I went with four other Wake students on a campus organization’s fall retreat, which was being held in a camp in a rural South Carolinian town.  We drove there happy and excited, thinking that this would be a fun-filled restful weekend.

That was until our Yahoo! Maps directions ended.

We had driven 5 hours by that point, and were suddenly lost in rural South Carolina with no notable civilization to speak of.  We searched for some place to ask for directions to the 4-H camp that the retreat was being held at, and finally we found a 24-hour liquor store that we decided would probably be the best place to stop and ask for directions.

The man behind the counter at the liquor store had apparently been sampling his own wares for some time, and was consequently not much help (I’m unsure if he was even aware we were there), so we got back into the car and continued onward until we spotted a convenience store next to “Joe’s Bait & Tackle” that turned out to actually be attached to “Joe’s Bait & Tackle.” We went in and asked for directions to the camp.

The clerk at the counter had no idea what we were talking about, but the toothless woman who was buying lottery tickets at a nearby console apparently did.  Making no bones about the fact that she had been eavesdropping, she eagerly offered to show us the way there. “Come on, y’all!” she told us, merrily flouncing out to her battered Ford Windstar minivan.

“Does she expect us to get in her van with her?” whispered one of our group members.  Fortunately she did not; we were merely to follow her, because she was headed “out yonder” to where the camp was apparently located.  First, though, she told us that she had to stop by her cousin’s house and pick her up.  “I hope she’s dressed,” she said.  This is always a valid concern, especially when it’s 11:30 at night.

So we followed this random woman through rural South Carolina and she did, fortunately, lead us to the camp, after picking up her non-naked cousin and an individual that we suspected was either her boyfriend or her brother.

Even though we reached the camp safely, it wasn’t so great once we got there.  The cabins were no better than those that had scarred me emotionally as a child at sleep-away Bible camp—everything was the same… concrete slab floor, non-insulated walls that you could punch a hole through, and bunk beds consisting of more duct tape and Popsicle sticks than actual metal.

The trauma continued for the remainder of the weekend… but I blocked it all out.  I have to say, though, that the weekend wasn’t a complete waste; I did learn to appreciate random women gamblers in gas stations, as we all should.

—2002