June 21, 2015

The Drive Home

This post was originally written on June 11, 2012. It remains  unedited from its first posting except for line breaks and misspellings.  Of course it could use some editing, but it's been so long that I don't think I can accurately recall that day in every detail. This is practically a stream of conscious that was jotted down immediately after the mentioned events.
Note: Betty White was my car at the time, a '93 white Corolla that I bought for $1,500 at a police auction.

I'm  talking with my second boss, Chuck, about skydiving. Everyone else has  already left the office because of the storm. I'm leaving because the  internet is down. Chuck would never skydive. "Why would I jump out of a  perfectly good airplane?" "Would you skydive, Witt?" My response is the  same as most risk-taking endeavors: Probably, if someone else is paying  for it. God chooses when you die.

The storm is just a speed bump in my day. Oh, I dread the other drivers, not the storm.
"I'll  see you tomorrow, Chuck." Key ready, I dash to the far side of the  parking lot - where my car is parked. Parking is quantitative, not  qualitative to me. Only mildly drenched, I consider the quest a success  since the paycheck in my pocket is dry. Start up, back out, have a mini  panic attack upon forgetting how defogging works.

Car stalls on incline like it's been doing recently.

It's  raining sideways. Everything is gray. I depart North on Germantown  Parkway. I come across the first of many large pools quickly gathering  water. I turn my wipers up to three. Not high enough. There is no fourth  setting; the seed of anxiety is planted. West on Trinity Road. The rain  is picking up or holding steady. I can't tell. Going around a bend  that's banked right in my favor, a red truck appears no more than forty  feet ahead of me - in oncoming traffic. No headlights. Idiot.

I have two hands on the wheel. That's not something you see very often. There's a loud crack on my windshield. Where'd that rock come from? During the next dozen contacts, I figure out it's hail. Really hard  hail. The road curves left. Well, that's good. At least I have more  tree cover now. That should cut down on the rain and slow down the hail  some. It doesn't. The clouds shotgun my windows and drop mortars on my  roof - which now sounds so less sturdy than I believed it to be. Stop  sign, finally. The halfway point.

I continue - until a large tree  limb blocks my path - and a realization is made very real to me, the  threat of being crushed. I readjust my hands on the crusty, faux leather  steering wheel cover. Another big puddle. Why were these fun to go  through when I was a kid? I fear losing control of my car now. What  bothers me most about them now is that, whenever my front, right wheel  goes through a modestly sized puddle, it sprinkles down in water  droplets on my feet. Yes, the driver's side.

A couple stop signs  later and I slow down far in advance for an area that was the worst last  time it rained heavily. The three-lane street is covered with an area  of water that deserves no less of a title than "pool." Apparently, I was  the last on the road to remember than the left lane is the best lane. I  was in the middle as I enter it. My feet and legs are showered. Betty  White is taking on the ocean as far as I'm concerned. We traverse the  ire and come to that traffic light. The traffic light that is always  red. Unlike most others, this one shows no mercy to any traveller. It's  red no matter which direction you're coming from or at whatever time you  approach it, yet traffic continues. It's being studied by scientists  and I'm fairly certain it's in the running to be a Wonder of the World.  This stop light did not fail me; my car resigned for a moment and my  head rested on the window but in the relief of stress rather the  reception of it. The truck in front of me moves forward and so do I with  an unfamiliar sound being made by Betty.

Next stop light, I'm at the front. Betty sounds much worse. Glug, glug, sputter. Glug, glug, glug, sputter. I  eke forward to give her more gas. That works for a moment but then it's  back to the onomontapoeia. Eke, stop, eke, stop, eke, stop, green  light. Starting off it sounds like she's going to die. Success and we're  rolling. Green light, red light, puddle, yellow light, uphill,  downhill.

I'm approaching the light where I'll turn onto the  neighborhood street. Where I'll be safe. Going uphill the sleek, new  asphalt is a drab refection of the lights and telephone poles. I make my  turn left and let out a sigh of relief. This street is as wide as I-40  and dead ends in about one mile. I turn onto my street and slowly make  my way to the house that holds my bed, Macbook Pro and internet. I put  my car in park, set the wipers to zero, turn off my headlights, turn the  key counter-clockwise and sigh. Tears well in my eyes as I chuckle.
Thank you, God.