Traffic

 
 

A Beast In the Night

I may be slightly guilty of complaining about my neighbors on Facebook. In most respects they are nice, normal people with young kids, relatives, friends, a dog and a trampoline. I wonder, though, if they celebrate more than the average family. And I also wonder, often, how to disable the bass speaker from their stereo system in a quiet, legal way.

This past weekend I found myself actually wishing for the simple annoyance of that bass thump thump thump vibrating through my bedroom wall at any hour of the day or night. What could possibly make me wish for such a thing?

Wilderness camping.

Yes, you heard me right.

Wilderness camping.

FullSizeRender-4

Aw… peace, quiet, beauty and serenity

When I think Wilderness I imagine large open meadows filled with wildflowers, pines intermingled with quaking aspens, blue skies, birds twittering, chipmunks chattering, and the smell of a campfire, with a soft breeze rustling the leaves. Maybe it would even include a brief afternoon downpour, which makes the air even fresher and more wilderness-like.

 

Our little outing included all that in glorious abundance. Exactly what a person seeks when they go out into the wild. At least, that is what THIS person seeks when going to a wilderness area. Don’t you?

Apparently other people, people I do not comprehend, think wilderness is for unmuffled engine noises and dust and the smell of gasoline and exhaust.

 

MAD MAX vehicles 2

The Beast’s Minions, no doubt.

Not long after setting up camp, in the WILDERNESS, we realized we were way too close to a dirt road that apparently compares to Times Square in mountain terms. Holy smokes! Every motorcycle, ATV, four-wheeler, jeep, and zoomy loud obnoxious vehicle ever invented drove up and down that road.

 

We took comfort in the thought, the absolute certainty really, that once the sun set the traffic would abate.

But alas, we found that assumption to be completely and totally incorrect. In fact, some of the wheeled monstrosities seemed to amp up the volume after dark.

Somewhere around 10:30 p.m. someone unleashed some Mad Max movie vehicle from the depths of Hades. I told MSH, “I think the apocalypse is happening. Isn’t that what the end of the world sounds like?”

mad max 4

This “War Rig” is actually from the movie Mad Max, but could easily be what I heard and felt.

I pictured amplifiers attached to where a muffler would be, flames shooting out the top and back, and a doomsday soundtrack that normally plays in a sci-fi movie when an entire planet is about to be destroyed. The driver most certainly looked like one-eyed Dennis Hopper from Water World. And I’m certain the beast was a half-track, or some tank or a war machine. This thing made our tent rattle and vibrate and I swear the ground shook. The fact that lightning and thunder were intermittently happening only added to the creep factor. Unlike the other vehicles that blasted through after dark, this one could be heard two to three miles away, coming and going.

 

Unnerving. Definitely not sleep inducing.

So MSH and I decided to read a bit and talk over what we were reading. A few more, by comparison, fairly quiet ATVs blasted through, surprisingly. Near midnight we turned out the lights and assumed we’d sleep through the night.

No flames shooting, since it’s daytime, but definitely similar to what I felt and heard.

mad max 7

No flames shooting in the daylight,  but definitely similar to what I felt and heard.

Until 1:45 a.m. when The Beast Built From War Machines of Horror Movies returned, driving slower and if possible, louder. The mountains echoed with the roar of this monstrosity, I swear house sized boulders voluntarily rolled down mountains and trees fell of their own accord at the sound of this thing.

 

What little bit of sleep I did manage was nudged awake by birds and chipmunks at the first hint of dawn.

scary vehicles 1

A cousin of The Beast, no doubt. Not so scary in the daylight.

The ATVs didn’t wake up until five hours later, a very welcome respite.

 

If wilderness is so loud and ridiculous, how do I escape the noise and chaos of mankind and their machines? I guess I need to try backpacking miles and miles away from any roads. Or try setting up camp next to a very loud river. Or both.

I suppose I’d better get my backpacking body back in shape.

mad max 3In the meantime, I guess I could be more tolerant of my neighbor’s late night stereo blasting. At least it’s not some vehicle from Mad Max showing up at my doorstep, right?

Have you ever noticed that so much about life and the troubles we go through is all about perspective?

 

~~~~~~~

 

Disclaimer #1: When I was a young’un, dad and his pals and their families, all headed up into the mountains from time to time specifically to ride motorcycles all over the place. We were oblivious to the thought that maybe our noise and dust weren’t as delightful to others as they were to us. But once it was getting dark, those machines got parked for the night. No one would mistake our little engines for some beast from the underworld, that’s for dang sure.

Disclaimer #2: More logical people than I have suggested having a chat with the neighbors about turning down the music a bit after midnight. But, I’ve found it’s more fun to whine on Facebook about it than to resolve the situation.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Categories: Humor, Nature, Outdoors, Traffic | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Friday Letter: The Traffic and Song that Never Ends

Dear J, J, L and L,

Finger puppets might save your sanity.

It all started with Lambchop, although I don’t remember when he began riding along with us in the car. I just know that one day we found ourselves sitting in traffic amongst a zillion other cars going nowhere and getting there at five miles per hour. More than likely, two of you, (guess which two) were arguing or whining in the back seat. No doubt the radio played nothing but the Macarena or advertisements. And most likely the AC failed in its efforts to cool our car just as summer arrived.

Whatever the circumstances, I remember putting Lambchop the finger puppet on my left hand, and letting him wildly sing his signature song whilst dancing out the window.

“This is the song that never ends…it just goes on and on my friend…somebody started singing it not knowing what it was… and they’ll continue singing it forever just because this is the song that never ends…”

Here’s a reminder if you’ve forgotten that ditty:

The Song That Never Ends

One of you in the back half of the car probably slunk lower in your seat or said something profound like, “Mooooooooom!!! Stoooooooop!” or may be not. Maybe you laughed. Maybe someone in a car behind or beside us laughed.

Then Lambchop changed the words. “This is the traffic that never ends…it just goes on and on my friend…somebody started driving once not knowing where they were…and they’ll continue driving now forever just because this is the traffic that never ends…

Lambchop was a hit. I laughed. Ya’ll laughed. Tension dispelled, at least momentarily.

From then on I was on a quest for other finger puppets, which it turned out, were rare and hard to find. (Pre-Amazon and Google, y’know.)

FullSizeRender-3 copy 2

Moose, the finger puppet. Who could resist this smile?

This guy, Moose, joined our car late in the game. He liked to sing “We wish you a merry Christmoose,” if memory serves me correctly.

There may have been others, but some of our more traumatic years seem to reside in a foggy region of my brain that I’m unable, or unwilling, to access. But Lambchop, for sure, spent a ton of time on the dashboard, reminding us of the threat or the possibility of performances while stuck in traffic.

Now the most traffic I encounter happens while trying to cross Greenfield road on my bike. And of course, your father doesn’t appreciate the finely honed skills of finger puppet singing. So Lambchop now lives in the closet with all the other stuffed animals. I found Moose covered in dust next to a certain restaurant gift card on my dresser.

If you remember the names or songs of any of our other sweet car companions, remind me. Good times ought not be forgotten. In fact, perhaps they ought to experience a comeback.

Hey, whatever it takes to maintain your sanity in traffic seems like a great idea.

May all your roads lack multiple four-way stops and frequent construction zones. And may you laugh daily and often.

Happy driving!

Love ya tons,

Mom

Categories: children, Family, Friday Letter to My Kids, Friday Letters, Fun, Traffic | Tags: , , , , | 1 Comment

Construction Zone Ahead, Please Merge, and Don’t Forget to Say Thank You

It’s Gratituesday! Like the person with a leaky roof, I’ve got gratitude options pouring in on me. I haven’t got enough buckets and pans to set out to contain it all. To zero in on any one of them feels somehow unfair to the rest of my gratitude.

Weird, I know.

One thing that I’ve thought about for a few years now might seem dumb. But it keeps coming to mind even amid the more obvious, showy, big or happy things I’m thankful for.

Up near Flagstaff, actually.

Up near Flagstaff, actually.

I’m thankful today, and have been for a long while, for our amazing freeway system here in the Phoenix area.

When we first moved here nearly two decades ago there existed a north/south freeway of two lanes each direction and an east/west freeway of two and occasionally three lanes. Oh, and one that kind of veered off to the south and east. At least that’s how I remember it. Traffic always backed up all day long, all night long. At certain areas traffic bottle-necked into a tangle that made side streets seem the faster route.

Then the roads started getting widened. It’s tough to see the good when an already too small road becomes a construction zone. But, I remember seeing those workers out late at night with work lights blazing, or during the day in ungodly summer conditions and thinking how grateful I was to them for being willing to work such a difficult and demanding job. When the construction finished I remember thinking how amazing it felt to zip through town so quickly.

Every year for a while, more roads grew out of the desert, then existing ones widened, tweaked, and modified. Every change makes life easier to navigate in a car and simplifies my day.

Phoenix and surrounding ‘burbs now boast a loop that services nearly every community with quick, easy access to a freeway and few areas that truly jam up too much. And more roads continue under construction. To me, it’s an engineering marvel that such things exist.

Uh oh, traffic cones, better slow down a bit.

Uh oh, traffic cones, better slow down a bit.

My Dad worked for the Department of Transportation as an engineer while I grew up. I remember looking at the blueprints, the fancy drawings, the meticulous hand lettering,  the pages and pages of notes, and wondering what that had to do with roads. Back then the math was done with slide rules and on paper, and then calculators; the drawings done without the aid of computers. Amazing stuff now that I think back on it. To this day when Dad drives along a road he helped engineer in one way or another he comments, remembering details and stories about specific curves, hills, turns, side rails and even striping. Is that something? I think so. It says he put himself into his work. He took pride in it. He cared about what he did.

To men and women like him back then when the freeway system was in its infancy and toddlerhood, to the many people now, with the roads somewhere between teenager years and midlife crisis, I feel a great desire to say “Thank You.” And to those who took paper and drawings and transformed them into asphalt and bridges, concrete and smoothness, I also want to say “Thank You.”

Rarely a day goes by that I’m not a recipient of the blessings of their imagination, brilliance, hard work, and sweat.

If you know someone who works on roads somehow from beginning ideas to end product or somewhere in between, could you pass along my thanks? I’m not sure of any other way to do so.

And by all means, in construction zones, slow down!

Cute car I spotted on the North loop 101 headed west. Don't worry, my passenger snapped the pic.

Cute car I spotted on the North loop 101 headed west. Don’t worry, my passenger snapped the pic.

Categories: Gratitude, Gratituesday, Traffic, Transportation | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

An open letter to the jane q. public i wrote those tickets to…

A must read blog post that will make you think…

don of all trades

Dear Jane Q. Public:

I recently became aware that you took a few minutes out of your life to send an online complaint to my Department’s Internal Affairs Division because you were upset that I would not listen to your excuses about why you drove through that red light a couple of weeks ago and also because I addressed you in a tone that you thought was less than respectful. You also thought that it was ridiculous that I wrote you an additional ticket for not having your two year old buckled into a car seat.

I’ve been given a copy of the letter because I have to take time that could be used patrolling the streets in order to address the complaints you’ve lodged against me to my superiors as well as to the Internal Affairs Division.

I do remember writing you those tickets, yes. I recall that you…

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Categories: People, Traffic | 1 Comment

In the Clutches of Independence

Nearly sixteen.

Sweet.

That meant getting a driver’s license. Which meant learning to drive.

Which meant learning to drive the vehicles my parent’s owned.

Dually or Van?

Parked in our driveway was a dual-wheel Clydesdale of a truck that had, in its former life, been a flatbed hay-hauling workhorse. Dad painstakingly and lovingly sculpted that behemoth into a very useful vehicle with a bed that contained the dual wheels within it, not jutting out like most trucks with four back tires. It was brown and big and serious.

Then there was the VW van. Classic. Red, with a skiff of white along the roofline, it was like driving a putt-putt car. Lots of room for all us kids, cold in the winter, probably got great mileage. The heater on it was pretty much useless in the snowy below-zero temperatures we had all winter long, so Dad had installed a small gas heater that vented to the outside, just behind the driver’s seat. Clever, that Dad of mine.

The Sweet Spot

English: Diagram of a Manual gear layout (4-sp...

Both vehicles had one thing in common. A stick shift, also known as a manual transmission. That meant understanding the workings of the combustible engine just enough to know when to push in the clutch with my left foot as I eased up on the gas with my right foot, wrangled the long shaft into the mystically correct position for the next gear up or down, and miraculously moved forward. Reverse, ironically, was the easiest gear to find. Finding the sweet spot of the gear I needed was usually an exercise in frustration.

Add in that we lived in the foothills, so that nearly every road was at an incline and learning to drive was adventurous, to say the least.

The Ins and Outs and Ups and Downs

Geared so low, I had to start that truck out out in second gear, even on hills. Memorizing the position of the gears, what pattern they lay in was not easy. Then manipulating that long stick into place to actually be in a gear was another trick. The truck required less finesse than the van. In fact, it almost needed a kick, like a horse to get it to settle into the correct gear. I sat at more than one intersection, engaged in a fight with that stick shift, often nearly in tears.

The van seemed easier to get the stick into place, but required more gas and quicker left foot action to get the clutch to engage. I was more confident driving that van. More certain of being able to get to where I was going without killing the engine, without grinding the gears, without embarrassment. It was a much easier car to drive. Sometimes too easy.

T2a Early Bay

(Photo credit: kenjonbro)

Not long after getting my license I was bringing a couple of  “Icee” slushes home from the Seven-eleven when one tipped over on the floor. (No cup holders back then.) I leaned over to pick up the spilled cup, while the van was still in motion.  Not a smart move, ever.

When I looked up a mailbox was coming at me. I swerved, just clipping the mailbox pole and ended up, luckily, settling the two-thousand pound hunk of metal I was driving into a bushy fir-tree, thick to the ground with soft branches and needles. I had knocked the mailbox off the pole. I got out, set the miraculously undamaged box on top of the pole, checked for damage to the van, and seeing none, drove home. I was lucky. Never told anyone about that. Until now.

I’m pretty sure the statute of limitations has passed by now

After that I was a fully engaged, eyes-on-the-road-at-all-times driver. Careful, aware of the scary amount of weight and potential destruction I sat perched on.

Since those two vehicles, I haven’t had the chance to drive many other manual transmissions. It’s a skill that’s extremely handy. I can drive either automatic or manual and I’m proud of it. Relatively few people know how to do that anymore.

There’s something very freeing, controlling the rate and timing of the gears shifting in a car you’re driving. It’s a race-car kind of sensation. The sense of control, speed, and power is exhilarating. That car sound little kids make when they play with their toy trucks is the sound of a car shifting gears. RRRRRRRRRR….rrrrrrr….RRRrrrrr. That’s the sound you’ll hear on a race track.

To a sixteen-year-old driver that’s the sound of freedom.

Categories: Memory Lane, Traffic, Travel | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

It’s Gratituesday! Thank Goodness for Trusty Dusty

For the past three years I’ve driven a Toyota extended cab pickup truck. I don’t know the name of the model, or even the year. Here’s a photo of it. That should give you an idea of the year. Ish.

Trusty Dusty

As you can see, it’s not a newer model vehicle.

In fact, I was recently transporting several teenage girls one evening in it. As we pulled into traffic I rolled my window down, meaning, I turned the crank handle to open the window.

“What they heck did you just do?” one of the twelve-year olds said in disbelief.  “Did you just open the window by turning something?”

“This is a really, really old car isn’t it?” another one said.

Stunned into momentary silence I shook my head. I suppose the truck is probably older than those girls are. Strange thought.

I considered referring to the Flintstone’s foot-powered vehicles, but knew they wouldn’t know what I was talking about.

But wait, there’s more!

My truck also has a cassette-tape player that works!  Luckily, the teens in my car didn’t notice that bit of antique hardware. I might have to show them next time we go somewhere. Won’t they be overwhelmed with awe! More likely they’ll be completely convinced of my total lack of coolness.

There’s also a back seat that holds three people with smallish legs. It’s only a two-door truck though, so getting back there takes some maneuvering and flexibility.

When I start the engine on this vehicle, you can hear it!  How’s that for amazing?

Sometimes when I drive my best buddy Kathy somewhere in her van, I inadvertently try to start it when it’s already running!  Oops. If I can’t hear the engine I assume I need to start it. That’s how mine works.

Her van, a newish one with power windows, power locks, powertrain warranty, and some get up and go is a delight to drive. In her van I can make left hand turns with ease and speed. In her van I merge onto the freeway without any puffs of smoke coming out the exhaust pipe.

My truck drives more like its get up and go has got up and went.  It wants to think about picking up speed. There’s some hesitation in its idling. If the AC is running while I’m stopped at a light, the cool air will stop and warm air will blow instead. Kind of temperamental, wouldn’t you say?

Is it wise to name your vehicle?

Kathy has named my little truck ‘Trusty Dusty.’ She named her van  ‘Chocolate.’  I’m a little jealous. But both names fit. Hers is smooth and delightful. Mine looks like it needs a wash all the time. In spite of its slowness and well-used looks, it gets me where I need to go.

I don’t usually take Kathy anywhere in Trusty Dusty because the shocks aren’t very absorbent, or whatever they need  to provide a smooth ride. Her bones can’t take hits from bumpy roads like my truck offers. So if her van is available, we drive that. (Well, I drive, she rides, let’s be clear about that, since as I wrote about in this past blog post, she shouldn’t be behind the wheel of a car.)

We do own another car, but it decided to give out last week. It’s been on the brink for a while. In fact the mechanic had said, “don’t take it out-of-town, always have a cell phone with you and just drive it until it drops, then buy something else.” Three drivers, three work schedules, one vehicle makes for tricky math, but we manage. We have before.

I like my little truck. It’s handy. Can’t tell you how many times I’ve hauled stuff in it. Beds, appliances, camping gear, wedding decorations, food, top soil, bikes, plants, potting soil, water barrels, rocks, college kid supplies, moving boxes, even catering supplies and meals. It’s been ‘worth its weight in gold’ on many occasions. (I suppose if that cliché were really true I’d own some spiffy newer model year kicking it into high gear dual wheel truck with shiny all over it.)

Yup, that's over 200,000 miles your reading.

Yup, that’s over 200,000 miles your reading.

We thought last year that it was time to retire Trusty. I was sad and forlorn about it. Then my son decided he might be able to perform surgery on it and bring it back to life.  Our driveway looked a bit like Frankenstein’s laboratory for a few weeks. (Much to the HOA’s chagrin.) A spider took up residence between a wheel and the edge of the driveway. It thought it had found a permanent home, no doubt. But tools, skills, the internet, perseverance and desperation won out and Trusty revived for another 15,000 miles or more.

Sure I’d like to drive something sleek and shiny with a state of the art sound system, and all the bells and whistles. But that’s not really in the budget, nor has it ever been.  We paid cash for Trusty, so no monthly payments. That’s a nice bonus. Maybe someday I’ll drive something admirable and more reliable. Or maybe not. I’m just glad I have some means of transportation with AC for the desert heat.

Luckily, I can simply keep on keeping on! For the time being.

Categories: Humor, Traffic, Travel | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Navigating Through Life the Traffic School Way

A traffic school for navigating through life sounds like a good idea to me. Anything that helps me avoid a big fine, a penalty, some heartache, frustration or pain seems like a great idea.

So I’ve come up with a few rules of my own.  Having done some significant amount of traveling, I figure maybe I’m somewhat qualified. At the very least, I need the reminders myself.  I’ll work on the slide show presentation later.

Old Truck

Old Truck (Photo credit: cindy47452)

  • Avoid rush hour if possible, morning and evening.

The sun is always at a bad angle at rush hour, low in the sky and in your eyes, or reflecting in your side or rearview mirror.  I aim for the middle ground when possible.  I can legally use the HOV lane between nine and three. I can easily change lanes, merge, keep space between me and some yo-yo on his phone.  This works in real life too.  Trying to do what everyone else is doing, when they’re doing it isn’t always the best course of action. Be yourself.

  • Don’t text and drive. Don’t drink and drive.

That’s a no brainer isn’t it?  Likewise, don’t drink and be online.  You’ll regret whatever you put online while under the influence.  An emotional crash, a friend bender, relationship dents, are all possible outcomes when you’re online under the influence. You are not wiser, wittier, more honest or pleasant when you’ve had a few too many. Angry texts and online rants aren’t generally productive either.

  • Use a map, or at least have one with you.

I used to always have a map in the car.  I used to always have a plan for my life, for my day, for my week, for the next hour.  Sometimes your plan just needs ditching and you need to take a detour. If so, go for it. You’ve got a map to get you back on course when you’re ready. Sometimes you need to stick to the planned route no matter what.  Only you know which it is.  It’s also okay to ask directions, get a different perspective, especially from someone who knows the terrain.

  • Have a contingency plan if you get separated.

Staying in touch is always a good idea. A weekly email to your sister, a phone call to mom or dad, a text to your brother, an instant message to a friend, an ongoing Scrabble game with your cousin. There’s also actual handwritten letters, not to mention live and in person visits. Don’t let those distances grow too far apart. Those connections are what really count. That’s what the drive is really all about.

Another closed rest area.

Another closed rest area. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

  • Stop for bathroom breaks more often than you think you need to.

I can tell you from experience, breakdowns happen and you don’t want to be squatting on the side of the road, no matter how big the bushes might seem.  You think you can go full throttle through your day with no breaks, no feet up, no ten-minute nap, but you can’t and you shouldn’t.  Step outside and breath real air, go up and down the stairs a couple of times, drink a bottle of water, actually go to the bathroom, do some deep breathing, read a page or two of a book, rest your eyes, do a few stretches.  Give your brain and body a break here and there and then you can put the pedal to the metal for a while longer.

  • Bring snacks, CDs and water.

Snacks provide entertainment value sometimes, but they also provide memories.  See my post about the Lonely Duck for proof of that one.  What’s a road trip without licorice, peanuts and m&m’s?  Not a real road trip.  Pop some music or a great audio book in the CD player and enjoy. Sometimes it’s the little things that make the difference, don’t ya think? A handful of laughter, a little dollop of whipped wonder or a spoonful of silliness, can make all the difference in life.

A typical speed limit sign in the United State...

A typical speed limit sign in the US showing a 50 mph restriction. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

  • It’s okay to go slower than the speed limit.

Now there’s a revelation!  That number on the sign says it’s a LIMIT.  Not a suggested speed, but a maximum speed.  I know this is a new concept to most drivers.  It’s also okay to not race through your life.  Just because everyone else has their kids in fifteen afterschool events per week doesn’t mean you have to do the same with your kids.  Your to-do list could have one item on it, and that’s okay. Take life at the speed you’re comfortable with.

  • Take the scenic route occasionally, or at least take a different route.

Studies show, (okay I made that up, but it’s true) that a change of scenery is a great plan.  You don’t have to up and move to another state, like I did six times, for a change.  Maybe the change you need is simply a change in routine, or a change in how you react to traffic, or a change in how many breaths you take per minute, or a downshift in the urgency you place on whatever it is you’re doing. Smell those roses, pick those daisies, walk on that grass, take that photo, touch the wet paint, turn right instead of left!

road rage

road rage (Photo credit: Robert S. Donovan)

  • Don’t yell at, aggravate, cut-off, or flash random hand gestures at drivers.

I still talk to the traffic way too much, but I have changed how I talk.  I say quietly to myself  things like, “I sure hope his wife doesn’t deliver those twins before they get to the hospital.” Or I wish them well in “getting to a bathroom before the food poisoning hits full force.” I figure there’s a reason behind what people do, no matter how aggravating it is to me.  I also try to cut myself some slack when I’m the irritating person.  I try to say kinder things to myself, give myself credit for what I do right, instead of focusing on the few things I think I’m failing at.  Kindness never hurt anyone, in fact it often helps.

So, class…did I miss anything?  Would you add any pointers to my Traffic School Advice?  Let me know in the comments below.

Don’t forget to buckle up and have a nice trip!

Categories: Humor, Traffic | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

The Good, The Bad, The Not So Pretty of Parenting Moments

The statute of limitations has expired on this one, so I think I can safely share this story with you.  Why I am sharing a moment of weakness is beyond me.  I must be tired this morning.

At the time this story occurred, time, repetition and lack of forward motion worked against me.  Keep those three points in mind. Also, please note that I am normally a calm, well behaved citizen.

Also, it had probably been a more stressful morning than usual.  What could have caused additional stress at our house at that point in time could have been one of hundreds of things. It was probably several dozen of a hundred that put me in a dither that morning.

Why do I feel like I’m presenting testimony in a court hearing? Enough!  On with the story.

My daughter  who shall remain nameless, was needing a ride to school.  Fine.  We’d done that countless times.  This particular day she or I, let’s just say we to simplify things, were running a bit late.  But, if we didn’t have to stop for too many long red lights she’d still make it to class on time.

Arriving on the school property I slowed to the requisite 8 mph.  A sigh of exasperation crossed my lips as I saw them.  The dreaded orange cones.

It was encouraging         0603100930

I hated the stupid orange cones.  We called them the orange cones of death.  Why?  The cones were school security’s way of directing traffic the way THEY thought it should flow.  I’m sure if you have hundreds, nay, thousands, of parents driving whichever direction they wanted whilst dropping off their beloved offspring for a day of molding and shaping their ever eager minds, it could become a traffic jam of epic proportions.  I understand that.  I really do.  So I would dutifully follow the path of least resistance that occurred by following the orange cones.

The flow of traffic, however, made little sense to the sleep deprived parental mind when there remained only 2 minutes until the tardy bell rang.  Looping all the way around the parking lot, over countless speed bumps designed to destroy what little alignment remained in the car was a waste of precious time and sanity. What made the traffic flow even more ridiculous was that the drop off point was a mere twenty feet away  from where the orange cones of death began their path.  A simple, quick left turn would allow a nearly immediate drop off with minutes to spare.  That would free up time for the child to amble off to class, helping little old ladies across the hallway, shaking hands respectfully with the principal and offering to carry a heavy box for a teacher, if she so desired.

A quick left hand turn would ease the stress of certain parents, would improve the morning race to get everyone out the door, and would, in fact, lend itself to beginnings of world peace.  A quick left hand turn would be logical and there was little logic in this traffic pattern which required a circuitous route.

I might add here that there were very few cars driving this gauntlet of ridiculousness with only a couple of minutes until classes started.  The parking lot was nearly void of moving cars, there were virtually no students in the area, and the security golf cart guys were off having their morning laugh together.

Normally I would simply resign myself to the fate of another bumpy slog over the river and through the woods of the parking lot to drop of said child at the doors to the halls of learning.

That would be a normal reaction.

This particular day was not normal.  (Reference the above one hundred or more reasons for stress.)

This one morning of many something in me snapped.

“Stupid! Orange! Cones!” I yelled.  “Not today!”

I raced my engine up to 12 mph and turned the wheels sharply to the left and simply drove over the stupid orange cones.

Yes, this was in full sight of the front office.

I didn’t care.

I felt triumphant.

I felt victorious.

I had stuck it to the man.

I felt a little embarrassed.

“There ya’ go, my love,” I said as we pulled neatly up to the curb.

My daughter was laughing hysterically.

I stifled my own laugh.

“Have a nice day!” I chirped.

“I love you mom!” she said through her laughter. “Get a nap today, I think you need it!”

I watched her amble in through the doors of the school and drove off into the sunrise.

*****     *****     *****     *****      *****

For the most hilarious read you’ll have in months, I can assure you laughter with tears if you follow this link, written by a brilliant blogger from South Africa. Parenting for Dummies by 23 thorns.  Enjoy!!

Categories: Humor, Traffic | Tags: , , , , | 7 Comments

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