New Hampshire can be a lonely place once the primaries are over. I realized this when I saw a sign on the border that said, "Will the last reporter leaving Manchester please turn out the lights?"
I stopped for gas at a 7-Eleven in the town of Boot. The gas man, seeing my press credentials on the windshield, put his snow cap on and rushed over.
"If you want a wider shot, you can set your TV cameras over there," he said.
"I'm not here to set up cameras," I told him. "I just need some gas."
"Don't you want to know my opinion of George Bush?"
"It's too late. Nobody in the United States cares what you think about Bush anymore."
"Dan Rather cared what I thought. He stuck his mike in my mouth for two minutes."
"Dan's only interest now is South Carolina."
"That isn't what he told me. He told me what people in New Hampshire say about Bush could change the results of the election. I gave him some Twinkies because he let me say hello to my mother."
"I would like a cup of coffee."
"Jack Kemp always had a cup of coffee before he went out on the campaign trail. He sat right on that box over there next to Gary Hart."
"Get off it. Jack Kemp never sat next to Gary Hart."
"Kemp didn't know it was Gary Hart. He thought it was Warren Beatty."
"What was Gary Hart doing in a 7-Eleven?"
"He said he was looking for a voter to talk to -- any voter."
"This seems to have been a busy store."
"We're the last 7-Eleven before you get to Concord, so everybody loads up here. Tom Brokaw bought a Spam sandwich from me last month and asked if I was going to vote for Dukakis. I told Tom I would if it assured me of getting on the evening news. I said we in New Hampshire can't make up our minds unless we know we're appearing on prime time.
"I was about to call it a night when Ted Koppel came by with his crew and asked me to go on split screen as a typical Boot, New Hampshire, resident. I told him I'd be delighted since I had already done it for Dan Rather, Bryant Gumbel, Oprah Winfrey and Phil Donahue.
"Ted said he was looking for someone who wasn't so overexposed, so I called up my cousin, who had only been on '60 Minutes.' The trouble with you TV fellers is you think that you can just drive up and find a New Hampshire media virgin who has never been interviewed on television."
"You can relax now," I said. "New Hampshire has had its day in the sun."
"Don't sit near the cornflakes," the man cried. "Barbara Walters sat there when she talked to me about Mrs. Dole. She asked me lots of personal questions about her."
"Did you answer them?"
"It was hard because Mrs. Dole only came in a couple of times, bought frozen yogurt and ate it in the car. You can't get a real fix on a candidate's wife from that."
"But Barbara didn't care?"
"She couldn't have been nicer, especially when she found out my brother drives a plow for the Department of Transportation. You want any pictures of me holding up the photo of the Russian missiles in Cuba that the Reverend Robertson left behind?"
"Why did he leave it behind?"
"He said the people of New Hampshire were the only born-again voters who knew he was telling the truth."