Wednesday, July 15, 2009

On The Road Again

"You better chill out, this is how people drive in Wisconsin."

Reference Guide
Point A: Menominee Park (pick-up Kaplan GMAT study guides from new friend)
Point B: Aunt's House (water flowers)
Point C: The Bar (pick-up chicken wings for Dad)
Point D: Oblios (beer with visiting NY pals)

Left Home for Point A in a rush yesterday. I had a long walk with the dog and an even longer shower afterwards to rinse off the applied quarter bottle of sunscreen. As I was running out the door it struck me that I wasn't even sure how to get to Point A. Reverse. Running to my macbook I was reminded by my father, home sick from work with a busted back, that we have a GPS unit in the truck. U-turn.

I'm the kind of person who is usually five to ten minutes late for appointments, but struggles with the guilt each time as if I never expected it to happen again. So considering that driving can be frustrating on its own, I hit frazzled as soon as I pulled out of the driveway; the road was closed ahead. As were many of the little roads here and there on my journey.

Driving is still new to me, let alone handling the loose steering common to a 4x4 pick-up truck, so when Samantha, the GPS guest narrator, tells me I need to get into the right lane, even if I have two miles to do so, I merge immediately. As soon as I sandwiched the truck between two dippy transformer-looking s.u.v.s I had to slam on the brake. The 65 mph speed lane slowed down to 50. I spied a blue Buick and two heads of white hair above the roof of the car in front of me, and although it started to make sense (growing up catholic you experience plenty of Sunday-driving) it infuriated me all the more. Everyone starts whipping into the left lane to pass, but Samantha wants me to stay right; my exit is half a mile ahead.

Guess who else was exiting at 119-Hwy 21? Well, if you were also driving North on Hwy 41 at that time you wouldn't need to guess. The Buick veered onto the shoulder 100 feet before the exit ramp and continued to brake until traffic was stalled to 40 mph. At this point I'm constantly checking my mirrors hoping no one rear-ends the truck, praying I'm in a truck, half-swearing and lightly sweating. (How else do women sweat? Sweetly? Like roses.)

As I meet folks more advanced in age, few seem more afflicted than those without access to a car (and have the sense to recognize their disadvantage), so it's hard for me to wish the Buick into solitary confinement. But at the same time, it's not a selfish thought if you try to consider the safety of the driver.

Next stop, Auntie's house. Travel considerably more enjoyable. Attempt at parallel parking, same. After a quick hosing I am back on the road and headed home. Then the cell phone rings. I slowly reach for it keeping an eye on the road and answer the call. I see a biker traveling across the road ahead and perpendicular to mine. I assume to slow down further back from the approaching stop sign than I usually would to show that the idiot driver talking on said cell phone is definitely aware of said biker.

The call was from my dad, he wanted me to pick-up chicken wings at The Bar. Whatever, sure, no problem. I got directions amounting to, "It's on the frontage road past Wal-Mart, close to Loews, past Fleet Farm, right past Fleet Farm." Wrong. Fleet Farm is half a mile south of Loews and The Bar is even further past Loews.

The Bar is set back from the road behind a massive tar parking lot. If I hadn't been looking for it, I doubt I would have noticed it. I guess the cars do the talking, and they don't show up until after hours? Nothing screams happy hour like chicken wings, or fun, like red sauce clown face.

Chicken wings, check. Seat belt, check. Blue Buick, crap. How does that happen? Thankfully the max allowed driving speed is only 45 mph on the frontage road, which as previously demonstrated is totally within reach for our friends.

Home. Dad is psyched on his lunch. I have time to unwind and prepare for an evening drive in the rain.

Dark is evening in NY. Black is evening here. Our road doesn't have division markers, so one needn't bet on street lights. It was only sprinkling when I left the house, but the heavens were a'brewin something fierce for later. When pierced with lightning, the tightly gathered rain clouds looked almost plum in color, the tentacles of white burning like veins in the gutted belly of night. I drove on because I had to; a beer and and two friends were counting on me. Two beers actually, but then three waters, cause I don't need to be getting into any trouble here.

The roads were dead asleep at 1:40am. I couldn't time the windshield wipers with the pouring rain so I kept adjusting the speed the whole ride home. I zoned out to the sound of the wipers, the tap-tap of the rain and the flood of the brites sweeping the ditches and brush, and the road closed sign. (sigh)

I turned anyways; 4x4, my friend.

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