The Trump Shop Bus

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He was all but done for the day when we pulled into the gas station just outside of Spearfish, South Dakota, his “Trump Shop” bus all closed up for the night. Written on the bus were the words “not affiliated with the campaign.”

Some sort of backdoor PAC-based way to fund Trump’s re-election? I couldn’t figure it out until I googled it later on.

There are a number of buses similar to this all over the United States. The buses have all been wrapped in Trump graphics, all selling MAGA hats, Trump shirts, flags, and all the rest. The Trump campaign has been sending cease and desist letters to some of these buses, claiming that the merchandise is not authorized, that copyrights are being violated. The subtext seems to be that Trump himself isn’t getting his cut of the action.

I met a woman at a coffee and sandwich shop there. She worked the counter and we got to talking about the virus. She asked me how things were back home with the riots, all she’s seen on TV are the riots in the downtowns of all of our cities and was it really as bad as they made it out to be.

She wasn’t wearing a mask. No one in Spearfish was, really. The woman at the coffee shop, she didn’t know what to think about wearing or not wearing a mask. Her sister in Texas, an ER nurse, kept calling her she said, imploring her to start wearing a mask, that it was terrible in Texas. But here, in Spearfish, she said they hadn’t seen the virus. She didn’t know anyone who had been sick let alone died.

I pointed out to her that Spearfish, a small town all by itself out here, had a sort of natural defense just given its remoteness. I pointed out that the virus would come nonetheless, that people just like me from California were in town and the virus was here, that you wouldn’t see it much until it was weeks too late given the lag between infection and published death reports. She didn’t know what to do.

We got our sandwiches and walked to a nearby park to eat.

This post is from a series of articles chronicling a 2020 cross-country trip with my wife and two daughters and a boyfriend, from California to Ohio (to visit family) and Pennsylvania (to drop off my oldest daughter at grad school), and then back. We spent over five weeks on the road during the pandemic.

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