This is one of my most favorite verses of the song, “It’s Not Easy Being Me.”
I’m an insulin dependent diabetic.
A few months after being diagnosed in 1983, I moved to South Carolina. I drove down with all my worldly possessions in an eight foot long U-Haul trailer—it wasn’t even full! I left very early in the morning and hadn’t eaten breakfast yet. So I decided to stop in a truck stop, take my insulin shot and then eat.
This was when the fun began.
Needles make me nervous, but they often make some people almost apoplectic! So I head for the restroom looking for somewhere private to take my injection of insulin. My intention was to go into a stall, take my shot, wrap my needle in toilet paper, dispose of it discreetly in a trash-can and then go get breakfast.
Oh so sorry Jimmy. Bubble just burst. Too bad. Your parade has been rained on!
In this particular establishment, some genius in all of their great wisdom decided it would be better (Safer? Cleaner? More organized?) too remove all of the doors from the stalls! There was nothing between me and the world. Nothing!
Okay, since I was really hungry and I figured I could do this without much fuss, I figured I’m a diabetic, not a druggy. So I get as comfortable as possible, I pull down my pants so I can take my shot in my thigh, swab my leg with a alcohol swab, pull the cap off the syringe with my teeth and begin to inject myself.
It was then a large, ominously breathing shadow began to block what little light was available in the bathroom stall I had chosen with such great care.
I looked up at a very large man dressed in a flannel shirt which did not quite cover his belly and he was also wearing jeans, boots, had a yellow “Cat Diesel” hat on and chewing something like Skoal or some other brand of tobacco. He was just standing there, slouched slightly at the shoulders and staring at me . . . me, with a syringe cap in my teeth and a syringe in my hand, poised to stick it in my thigh.
Now remember, I’m trying to remain calm, but here I am, in a toilet stall without a door to provide me any privacy in a truck-stop and just across the state-line in the great state of Kentucky. I saw the movie Deliverance and the image of Ned Beatty broke over like a proverbial shotgun began to form ever-so-clearly in my mind.
At that moment I could hear the theme song of the movie playing in the background (I could even imagine the bald-headed kid in the next stall with his banjo)—the way my day was going, Burt Reynolds was not going to rescue me with a compound bow!
As Elrod (or whatever his name was) stood there, I smiled nervously (with the syringe cap in my teeth) and announced to him “I’m a diabetic!”
He just turned his head, spit some chew on the floor and said, “Sure kid.” He then shuffled off, mumbling to himself and eventually left the bathroom. I quickly took my shot (I was too shaken to remember if it even hurt), got dressed and left the truck stop! I could only imagine him telling the deputies at the counter some skinny white kid was using drugs in the bathroom!
After I got off at the next exit and procured some candy bars (the aforementioned incident rattled my menu choices), I began to seriously consider the wisdom of moving to the south. No stall doors, there were coveralls, people chewed tobacco and nowhere for a skinny white kid to take his shot!
Fortunately, I did meet the woman who would become my wife two months later and the rest, as they say, is history.
She doesn’t chew either.