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Ditch The Mall, Head To A Truck Stop

Ditch The Mall, Head To A Truck Stop

This is not a sponsored post. I wish it were, I could use the loot. This is just my gift to you, the first of several last-minute Christmas shopping tips. You’re welcome.

I don’t know why more people don’t do their Christmas shopping at truck stops. These friendly joints stock loads of items you can’t find at Macy’s. Like those chubby little baseball bats to crack the craniums of would-be carjackers. Plug-in seat heaters to keep your buns toasty on the interstate in February. And matching camo pj’s for the whole family.

In fact, a truck stop is where I stumbled on last Christmas’ best gift.

It was late November and I was headed south to a college football game in Mississippi. I stopped, as usual, at the Kenly 95 in North Carolina, the Nordstrom of truck stops. A vast emporium featuring fried food, ball-cap boutiques and clean bathrooms.

When I walked in, a colorful display caught my eye: A pyramid of yellow guns and a video loop touting something called the Bug-A-Salt: A sort of pump-action air rifle for killing flies and other pests.

“Insect hunting is now officially a sport!” enthused the narrator. 

I stood transfixed as this gadget came to life on the screen. A yellow air gun that fired table salt. At bugs. In slow motion, you could see flies vaporized by a single shot. 

Best of all, no messy marks on walls or screens. No more bugs fleeing the flyswatter at the last minute.

Probably doesn’t work, I thought, as I headed to a little coffee stand.

Something drew me back, though. I sipped my coffee and watched the infomercial again.

I left Kenly a few minutes later 40 bucks lighter, with a Bug-A-Salt under my arm.

When my son unwrapped it on Christmas morning he looked puzzled. It elicited groans from everyone else. Another dud gift from Kerry. Like the year I made what came to be known as “banana mittens” for everyone. Hand-knit mittens with freakishly long thumbs.

Of course, it was winter. Our house was insect free and we couldn’t try it out. But a few months later bug season kicked off in Virginia. Our first invader was a fast-moving fly buzzing around the kitchen. My son loaded the gun, squinted into the sights and pulled the trigger. 


Sucker fell to the floor, six legs up.

My turn, I said, grabbing the rifle.

By summer, the Bug-A-Salt was in constant use and we were running low on Morton Salt. Family members who snickered on Christmas Day were suddenly small game hunters. 

Shoot, on hot summer nights I found myself sitting quietly on the screened porch in the dark, gun in my lap, waiting for those ugly cockroaches - the ones folks at the oceanfront euphemistically call “Palmetto bugs” - to scurry across the floor.


I knew the Bug-A-Salt was a success when my 2-year-old granddaughter recently pointed to a fly on the wall from her high chair. 

“Gun!” she said, nodding at the weapon we keep well out of her reach.

I dutifully obliged. 

Look, the Bug-A-Salt works and best of all, it'll change the way you look at houseflies. 

They’re no longer pests. They’re prey. 

Merry Christmas!

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