Mr Cruz addressed the truckers during his visit to the site, noting that high gas prices – which he blamed on Joe Biden’s administration rather than the ongoing war in Ukraine – was hurting the trucker convoy and the rest of the US population. – Graig, Graziosi, The Independent (emphasis mine)
The truckers congregated at the Speedway in Hagerstown, Md…. What I had not quite registered until this morning is that, apparently, at the end of each day of this protest of driving in a large circle around the most miserably congested highway in the country, they have been driving back to Hagerstown…. the Hagerstown Speedway sits approximately 68 miles from the nearest point of the Capital Beltway, in Bethesda, Md. – Albert Burneko, Defector
“So,” said United States Senator R. Edward “Ted” Cruz, struggling to be heard over the din of truck horns and diesel engines, “they race cars on this?”
“Yep,” said the driver of the flag-festooned semi Ted Cruz had climbed up into, “most Saturday nights, I imagine.”
Ted Cruz winced at the damage the clay surface of Hagerstown Speedway had already done to the mirror sheen of his black wingtips. “Doesn’t the dirt get into the cars?”
“Well, sure, but that’s part of the fun! What, you ain’t never been to a dirt track before?”
“No,” said Ted Cruz, “I guess I haven’t.”
“Well, then you best come back here once we’re all gone!” said his host. “You’re missing out.”
Ted Cruz looked around at the brown clay oval and the dusty grandstands, what he could see of them between the massed ranks of the Freedom Convoy. “I guess I should,” he said, in much the same tone as when he finally agreed to endorse Donald Trump in the 2016 presidential race.
“Yeah, come on down any Saturday night!” began Ted Cruz’s trucker companion as he released the parking brake and began to roll out of the Speedway infield.
“Wait, hold on,” said Ted Cruz, donning the cool black Ray-Bans that, together with his slicked-back hair and gray-streaked beard, he thought made him look very cool and Texan, “let’s get a video of this. For social media.”
When he could be heard again, the truck’s driver turned to Ted Cruz:
“Now we just get on the Beltway.”
An inordinate amount of time passed before Ted Cruz realized something.
“Uh, how far is it to the Beltway?”
“It’s some 70 miles.”
“Seventy! Couldn’t you have gotten somewhere closer?”
“I suppose, but we can fit everyone into the Speedway. Plus, people are nicer around here.”
“What do you mean?”
“Oh, some drivers flip us off. Gus, he got given the finger the other day and it shook him, man. He didn’t even join the convoy the next day.”
“Wait,” said Ted Cruz, “he—”
“Okay,” said Ted Cruz, recomposing himself, “you all drive down to DC from Hagerstown, then what?”
“Then we drive around the beltway. We’re making one extra lap of the Beltway for every day we’re here.”
“And then you drive back up to Hagerstown every night?”
“So if you started Monday,” Ted Cruz did some quick mental math, “we’re doing four laps today?”
“Well, uh, we didn’t go yesterday ’cause of the weather.”
“What? It barely rained yesterday!”
“Well yeah, but the forecast said it might snow some.”
“So,” said Ted Cruz, “you’re willing to drive four or five hours round trip to get to the Beltway each day, but not drive in a little bit of snow?”
“We just thought it’d be safer, you know? We’re still adding on the lap, you know. Four laps today.”
“How long is the Beltway, again?”
“‘Bout 60 miles, why?”
Ted Cruz did some quick mental math. “So… we’re going 400 miles today?”
“On the highways around Washington, D.C.”
“You said it.”
“The ones that are always backed up for miles either way even when there isn’t a convoy of truckers riding in circles around them.”
A long, long silence passed between Ted Cruz and his driver, a silence in which Ted Cruz suddenly became uncomfortably aware of the smell of the pomade that was slicking back his own hair. Was it really that pungent? Had it always been? Was that what people were thinking about when they met him, United States Senator Rafael E. Cruz of Texas, a man who campaigned for the man who insulted his family, liked a porn tweet, voted against certification of the 2020 election results, and backtracked on calling January 6 a “terrorist attack”?
“Hey, uh, I’ve got some stuff to do at the Capitol. You know, gotta vote on that post office bill.”
“Hey, I heard about that! Didn’t that pass last w—”
“Just let me off at the next gas station, okay? I can get a ride from my staff.”
“I’ve got a 300-gallon tank, I won’t need to stop for fuel at all today.”
“Just, whenever you need to use the bathroom or get a snack! The sooner the better. They’re gonna vote on it soon.”
“Hang on, we’re going to the Capitol anyway for your press conference, why don’t you just stay with me till then?”
“No, no, it’s fine, thank you,” said Ted Cruz, hastily. “We’ll just meet up a couple blocks away once you’re done with your laps here.”
Soon Ted Cruz found himself standing in the trucks and buses section of a highway rest stop for the first time since his senior year class trip. He scratched his beard, and wondered if the double chin beneath it was growing, and if anybody else noticed, before deciding they probably didn’t. The cars section winked at him from the other side of the service station, promising comfort in its familiarity. And he had an excuse for going back over there—that’s where the black Chevrolet Suburban that would bring him back into the nation’s capital was going to pick him up.
Any minute now.
Ted Cruz pulled out his phone and saw he’d missed a call from a staffer. Perhaps he hadn’t heard it through all the honking. Swiping over to his phone’s voicemail app, he dismissed a warning that his inbox was close to full and pulled up the message:
“Hey, Senator Ted Cruz, it’s Preston [your staffer and designated black Chevrolet Suburban driver]… just wanted to let you know that things are pretty backed up right now on the Beltway. I dunno if it’s the convoy or what, but it’s looking like at least an hour until I can get to you. Any chance you can ride with the convoy a few stops further? I can get at you more easily from the other direction.”
Ted Cruz dropped the phone from his ear and stared around him at the trucks and buses section of the rest stop, now empty apart from him and one tour bus full of what looked like high-school kids who, yep, had just recognized him and were none too happy about it, and sighed. He dropped his black sunglasses more snugly around his eyes and began the slow walk back to the cars section. At least he would look cool while he waited.