I go to file my taxes at 11:00 today, and will leave here slightly before (well, a half hour before, because I am going down to Crystal City, Missouri to file them, and I am up in South St Louis County, so it is a bit of a drive). Then, we are going to Columbia, Illinois (just over the bridge) because that is where the nearest Shell gas station is located (oddly - they used to be ALL OVER the place!), as the moms has $100+ in Shell gift cards (I don't know why), so she is going over there to use them, to fill up her tank. She didn't want to be alone when she went, so I said today would be a good day to do it. And then after that, I will come back here and probably write more BS, lol!

But yea, Shell gas stations either got taken over by another co, or they diminished in locations, or whatever the hell, but there used to be one on every corner in STL at one time, it seemed. They were like Walgreens, or CVS - everywhere! There used to be one at the top of the hill where I grew up (in Fenton, Missouri), and there was a cheapo gas station at the bottom of that hill, which I think acts as a low-key police sub-station these days, due to the immensely high crime rate of the two trailer parks it is sandwiched in between. I didn't live in either of the trailer parks (but had many friends who did), and it was the epitome of "class war" in that (large) subdivision, it seemed: two very run-down and crime-filled trailer parks at the bottom of the hill, then as one ascended up the hill, there were "working class" (or some would say "normal") houses, where we lived, and then beyond that (at the very top of the hill) was a non-gated, but heavily secured community that surrounded a giant lake. But I seemed to have friends from everywhere, because I never did and never will give a shit about class war.

The gas station, though (which was called "Stop n' Go"), it closed up in the mid-1990s and it was the source of many of the first cigarettes I ever smoked, lmao! Some jerk who everyone hated (who will go by the initials "KG") used to go in there and sneak out cartons of Marlboros underneath his coat (as they were on shelves, and NOT behind the counter), and then he would (brazenly) open a pack right behind the station and dare us to try one (before I thought smoking was ever "cool").

Not too fascinating a tale of gas station history in Fly Over Country, but noteworthy to me, nonetheless. That's one thing about rural, semi-rural, and suburban areas of the Midwest: gas stations are more "critical" than they are in a dense city. You may be driving for miles before you get to one, and sometimes they are as podunk and laid back as the filling station in "No Country For Old Men" - talkative clerks, cheap convenience goods, and a few "odds and ends" that one may need in case they were having some sort of car trouble. And if one is on Highway 55 (or another major Highway) there are dedicated rest stops, truck stops, and even tiny parks along the way - mostly to break up the monotony of driving for hours on-end, but also to serve a functional purpose for drivers (of actual trucks) to have a place to stop, park overnight, and sleep (usually in the back of their semi).

And perhaps it was the continual road trips between Indianapolis and St Louis from 1992-1995 that made me appreciate these things? My late-Father had to work in Kokomo, Indiana during those years, so we always went back and forth, and the road trips were always an "adventure" for me - having a small bag always packed and ready to go, always choosing carefully which cassette tapes I would bring along for the trip, and making sure my rechargeable batteries (a big luxury at the time) were "juiced up" for the 5-ish hour drive so my portable cassette player didn't crap out halfway on the road. Many meals at small diners/cafes and truck stops (or rest areas) along the way. Sometimes reaching our destination before nightfall, sometimes after. And once one experiences that type of "living" (as we made the trip back and forth well over a hundred times, I am sure), one tends to sort of "fall in love" with the Open Road. It is likely why truckers will STAY in their line of work for decades longer than they have to, and retire from one co and then go and work at another co straight after, because I think one can become quite infatuated with all the nature and open spaces.

That's just how I see it, though.