Monday, July 05, 2004

Maps For Sale

At the checkout stand of the Eckerd's in Lake Jackson, where merchants try to make that one last impulse sale to departing customers, there is a rack for street maps.

But there is not one for Brazosport or Brazoria County. There is not one for Houston. Or Texas. Or the Southwest USA. Or, in fact, for the entire United States of America.

The one and only map for sale is of the Middle East.

Is the Eckerd's trying to make a subtle political statement? That the United States is lost? That, in a geopolitical sense, our leaders are taking us on a journey that has no maps, therefore, they are now selling them to the drug store-going public? As in, Get A Map, Mister Bush.

I do not know.

Perhaps the Eckerd's is selling maps of the Middle East so that Lake Jacksonians can take them home for handy reference. Now, how many miles exactly is Falluja from Baghdad? If we was to take a day trip to Mosul from Basra, could we do it on one tank of gas or would it take two, taking into consideration we'd get about 28 miles per galllon in the family station wagon? After all, it is vacation season. Exactly where is the city of Damascus? What's the fastest route? Are their rest stops on the way? Motels? RV parks?

Two clerks on duty were at the checkout stand. They expressed their own sense of puzzlement at the map situation.

"We have people come in that want a map of Texas, but this is all we have," said one, with that smile that says, "I only work here, Mister."

The other clerk, when queried for an explanation, just sighed and said, "I don't know."

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