“Is that a Canadian flag?” asked Morgan as we hit the stretch of I-270 North between D.C. and Hagerstown, Md.
“No,” I replied. “I think that’s just a maple leaf pasted to a bedsheet.”
On closer inspection, I was right.
“It’s supposed to be a Canadian flag, though. I think?”
“Maybe. Or they’re just really into syrup.”
I was invited to D.C. by Crooked Media to appear on the “Lovett or Leave It” live show in March. This was also the week my Crooked Media-produced podcast (“Stuck With Damon Young”) launched. And so, Morgan, who’s one of my producers and also lives in Pittsburgh, and I made the four-hour drive midweek and drove home Friday.
During the trip back, we noticed that traffic was moving much slower than usual. The speed limit on that stretch is 70 mph, but cars were going below 50 mph. It wasn’t until I saw a blob of flags flapping from trucks in the right lane a quarter-mile ahead that I realized what was happening. We were behind the infamous and infamously stupid “People’s Convoy,” which drove, in a circle, from Hagerstown to D.C. every day, on a stretch of highway Defector’s Albert Burneko described as “a hellish interchange that turns into a giant snarled parking lot” — on a normal day.
And they’re doing this to … protest? And they’re protesting … cloth? Science? Daylight saving time? How the rules of spades change depending on the house and the city and how the arbitrariness of this feels democratic but is just unfair? Who knows? They don’t, so I won’t pretend to!
Anyway, it took a half-hour to drive past them. Here’s a recap of that experience.
0:01: Have you ever encountered something so uniquely, aggressively and impressively dumb that you wished you had a friend with you to verify what you saw? Morgan is a talented producer, but I’m now convinced that God convinced me to hire her just so someone could witness the miles-long hillbilly elegy with me. It was like driving past Bigfoot, but if Bigfoot wanted to ban books about small feet.
3:23: Most of the cars in the convoy are draped with American flags. Some with not just a flag or two, but a flag orgy. Flag Freaknik. I never understood the compulsion to be so conspicuously patriotic — to show every American in America that you’re the Americanest American … when everyone knows that you’re American. It’s like me walking around my house with a flag that says “I’m Damon, and I live here.”
Also seen: A dozen or so Blue Lives Matter flags, two “Don’t Tread on Me” flags, at least one Confederate flag and at least one hundred Trump flags. Most of the Trump flags were pretty straightforward — “Trump 2020” or “Trump Won.” And some were just weird, including one with what appeared to be Trump either greeting or arm wrestling a dog-sized frog.
Morgan, after seeing the dog-sized frog flag. “These are strange people.”
I never understood the compulsion to be so conspicuously patriotic — to show every American in America that you’re the Americanest American.
17:45: Admittedly, the convoy isn’t the only thing slowing traffic. They’re in the right lane, and there’s enough space to pass them What’s happening, though, is that many of the cars in the left lane are doing what Morgan and I were doing: gawking, pointing, filming, taking pictures, giving them the finger, etc. Basically, exactly what you’re supposed to do when seeing Idiocy in the wild. I actually wished I had my kids with me then, just to give them an impromptu tutorial.
“Who are those people, Daddy?”
“Those are idiots, baby. White American idiots.”
“Where do idiots come from?”
“The idiot tree. Also, Texas.”
29:12: When I shared this experience with some friends, a few of them responded with concern for my safety. But fear never crossed my mind. As we drove through and eventually left the convoy behind, I felt pity more than anything else. How small must these people be to think that what they’re doing is doing anything other than providing entertainment for an otherwise mundane stretch of highway?
And they weren’t even good at that, because after the first 10 minutes or so, I got so bored that I had to open my window to keep from nodding off. They’re not patriots. They’re Percocet.
Morgan, however, felt otherwise.
“Yeah, I think they’re patriots.”
“Why do you say that?”
“To drive this much with gas this expensive, you definitely love America.”