On Tuesday I left for work about ten minutes earlier than normal. I needed to pay someone to pass me a sack of fat through a window at Burger King, and couldn’t afford to be late for work. I’d given an employee a lecture the previous evening, you see, about punctuality. And it wouldn’t be a very good example if I shuffled in five or ten minutes late, the very next day.
So, I got my bag of artery-packers, and was tooling down interstate 81, eating and humming along to a Cracker CD. I had plenty of time, and was in a good mood for some crazy reason. Then everything went circling down the poop-catcher…
Just past Dunmore, and the appropriately named Drinker Street, it was a sea of brake lights, all the way to the horizon. Grrr… And I quickly went from humming and tooling, to growling and sitting still.
I hit the AM button on my radio, and Rush Limbaugh was playing a song about an upcoming terrorist trial, sung by a man with a Middle Eastern accent, to the tune of “New York, New York.” Eventually a Breaking News report interrupted, and it was no good. No good at all.
Apparently a tractor trailer carrying some sort of chemical had crashed on I-81 South, a few miles ahead, and ALL LANES were closed. And they probably wouldn’t be reopened, it was reported, until seven o’clock! I heard this around two o’clock in the afternoon, so holy shit.
Here’s a report about the accident that appeared on the five o’clock news. By that time some of the details had changed, but you’ll get an idea of the magnitude of the mess.
I had to get off the interstate somehow, but it wasn’t an easy task with my car in PARK. So I just sat and polished off the rest of my fries, contemplated the situation, and mumbled profanity. Every once in a while we’d move forward about ten feet, but that isn’t much help.
I called my boss and told him I’d be late, possibly very late, and he was cool with it. News of the “disaster” had already swept through our workplace, so they knew I wasn’t just making up an elaborate story while lounging in the Happy Endings Massage Parlor.
After what must’ve been 45 minutes, I traveled two or three miles to the next exit and got off the highway. There were cops there, directing traffic in a specific direction, and before I knew it I was in some unknown town that looked like 1949. What the hell, man?
I was a long way from work, in a place I’d never seen before, and didn’t know where to go. I could get back on 81 going north, and jump on the Pennsylvania Turnpike. But that requires a return to 81 for the last six or seven miles of the journey. Would I be putting myself right back into the crash-truck copulation? I had no way of knowing how far the “trouble” extended.
But there were few choices, so I backtracked and took the turnpike to the Wyoming Valley exit. And it turned out I was far enough south, but every other driver had exactly the same idea. So, I sat in absolute gridlock for another hour.
By this time I had to pee, and was starting to squirm in my seat. If I’d had a mop bucket, I think I could’ve filled it – with a big frothy head on top. I replaced the Cracker CD with one by Fountains of Wayne, and talked to my boss again. He thought the whole thing was a riot, but I failed to see the humor.
As I sat there, my souring mood generating a cocktail of internal poisons, I started to anticipate the reception I’d receive at work. I knew, without a doubt, that at least one person would criticize the way I dealt with the situation. I could hear their asshole voice inside my head:
“Man, you were three miles from here! You went all the way back up to the Turnpike?? Bwahahaha! All you would’ve had to do was take 473 over to the Buttcrack Highway, stay on that for about half a mile. Then you know where Scrotum crosses Charles Nelson Reilly? Just take a left there, circle around Quaker Oats Boulevard, and you would’ve been right over the hill from here. I caaaan’t believe you went all the way back up to the Turnpike! Bwahahahaha!!”
It was pissing me off just thinking about it. In fact, I started answering the person’s comment, before there even was a comment, or even a person:
“What a great man you are! You know all the back roads in and around Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania! Boy, that ranks right up there with the accomplishments of Hemingway, Edison, and Jonas Salk. Fantastic! I can see you’re proud of yourself, and rightly so. Maybe they’ll put it on your headstone: He really knew his way around Pennsylvania’s twelfth-largest city. Bravo, my friend. Bravo!”
But I finally simmered down, and returned to I-81, several miles south of the accident. It was smooth sailing from there, and I was only two and a half hours late. Not bad, for a 36 mile trip, huh?
After testing the backlogging capacity of an American Standard urinal, I headed to my desk and my premonition almost came true. A woman started in on me, laughing and saying I should’ve done this, should’ve done that.
“I don’t wanna hear it,” I said, and just stared at her without blinking. End of conversation. And as she walked away she made her mouth into an O and shook her head, as if to say, “Hoooly shit.”
And that was the highlight of my Tuesday, hands down.
On Thursday we’re going to Toney’s cousin’s house for Thanksgiving dinner, and that might be OK. Probably not, but I’m trying to stay positive.
I don’t really have a Question today. But since so-called Black Friday is the traditional kickoff for Christmas shopping, why not tell us what you hope Santa (Santy) will bring you this year?
What about you? What do you want that riffled jolly man to leave you?
I’ll see you guys next time, whenever that might be.
Have a great holiday if you’re in America, and a great weekend if you’re somewhere else.
See ya soon.