Sunday, November 21, 2010

Driving Me Crazy (Rhymes with Miss Daisy)

Friday I had a training class for the volunteer position I’m doing for Relay next year. I had to go to Oakland. I chose to go to the afternoon class, not realizing what lay ahead for me after the class was through.

That’s foreshadowing, my friend.

Got up to Oakland earlier than need be, but that was okay– I was hungry for lunch. Parked at a garage where they shift the cars all over the place like a puzzle or life size game of chess. Found the place I was to go for the class. Equals less anxiety, more time to enjoy lunch. That I did, at a place called Spice Monkey. I had The Best Turkey Burger, and it lived up to its name. Nice place, next time you’re in Oakland (!)…

Class was good, learned a lot, didn’t take ANY notes, cuz it’s not like I’m getting paid for this… And then, it was time to go home. So I wandered around between Oakland and Alameda for awhile, trying to find the onramp to the freeway, before I finally did “luck into it” (not before a double tunnel ride that was cool– didn’t honk–) and landed right in the middle of my circumstance.

Interstate 880. A beast at best. One of the most overused, underfunded, undulating surfaces known to man. And I had come upon it willfully.

My folly started to slowly present itself. Very slowly. As in “crawling, stop and go traffic.” And it was 4:00 pm, the earliest of beginnings for the commuting adventure. Add to that– it was Friday. Getaway day. People leaving work early, jockeying for position in the classic hurry-up-and-wait ritual. AND… it was raining. So now we’re dealing with advanced math– exponents, anyone? Accidents by the rainbarrel-full.

I started to tense up. More than I would have had someone stuck an exacto knife in the nape of my neck. Rashes and other side effects, for sure. I was riding a hyperbolic wagon in a handbasket on its way to Hell.

As the situation revealed itself to me like the layered linens of a homeless wanderer’s psychosis, I felt a bit deranged. I was actually enjoying this! And with the realization that indeed, this could be worse– I hacked up a maniacal chuckle that echoed in the padded cell of a truck cab. The water, coming down– tears of someone’s sarcastic joy–pooled on my windshield like the fluids pressing against the walls of my bloated bladder.. Yes– the watery imagery was suggesting that soon, I would need to pee. My conscious addition of the number of sodas I’d had in my immediate past seemed to have a compressing effect on said bladder. But I was already in the matrix of commuters– there was no getting cute now. No exit turnoffs for me. I was committed to the travel. The bladder would have to wait.

So I adjusted my attention to the road savvy driver in my mental makeup and pressed ever so lightly onward.

As I was saying, the water had begun pooling on my windshield, and as the sky was dark, my vision diffracted off the droplets in a kaleidoscope of headlamps and brake lights.

And here, we have the denouement.

The darndest thing– my windshield wipers stopped working. AT ALL. Like an unplugged radio. Turn on, turn off– nothing. No movement. No clearing of the lens to ensure my safe passage. Dead. Again, possible foreshadowing.

But no. Being proactive, I heartily laughed. Laughed until I almost saw stars. Hysterically. Afterall, why should I wait for a time for the “someday” when I could look back at this and laaaaugh? I did it NOW. I concentrated on driving with what I had. It was a godsend, actually, that it was stop and go traffic. I couldn’t imagine traveling at the speed of highway in the rain without properly operational windshield wipers. I did get a chance to try it, though, as the traffic picked up at times. But there was no stopping this. A juggernaut was I. I used my peripheral vision to help steer around the hazards mounted before me.

And I laughed. This may have been the most important part of the adventure. I laughed to stay alive.

And so, after about a half hour, as I reached the San Mateo Bridge turnoff, I tried the wipers again, and they started working. An ovation erupted in the soundtrack of my life. I cheered them on as the images de-blurred and I stopped having to drive into a Cubism painting. My bladder renewed its pleas for my attention.

No way, San Jose. Or bust.

Not literally, bladder.

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