Rest Stop Anthropology

I really enjoyed the drive to New Orleans for CGI U a week or two ago. Driving through rural Arkansas, Mississippi, and Louisiana is fascinating for anyone with an interest in anthropology.

At my lunch stop in some tiny place in the southeastern corner of Arkansas, smack dab in the middle of the Mississippi Delta, I was almost awed by the voice of the girl who waited on me. It was truly the thickest and oddest accent I had heard in Arkansas, and I had a hard time understanding her, despite my having lived my entire life in Arkansas. Actually, I thought the girl might have a speech impediment at first, until the other girl working at the same restaurant came to the counter and spoke with the exact same accent.

Later in they day I stopped to use the bathroom at a gas station. I occasionally get a kick out of the poor spelling of bathroom graffiti, or grown at the ignorance or racism that inevitably dominates the messages.

However, this bathroom had recently had all of its graffiti oh-so-artfully covered with spray paint, presumably by management. Only two messages had since been penned on the wall over the urinal.

One: “Acts 2:38: Jesus is the only way to salvation!”

The other: “Fuck you” (apparently not in direct response to the former message)

I want to coin a new general scientific law for rest stop anthropology. Let’s call it Globalizati’s Theorem:

As one drives South, the ratio of bathroom graffiti messages containing religious messages and messages containing profanity approaches 1.

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