The week of the Christmas frenzy. The last-minute whirlwind that clogs the roads like Orson Welles’ arteries and makes every trip outside of the Rising Ranch a slow-motion ballet.
For most of the year, I rarely venture from these four walls after nightfall. There are as many good reasons for this as there are stars in the evening sky. However, for reasons we will leave unsaid, I was on the roads last Friday. It will put things into crystal-clear perspective if you recall that on Saturday there was to be a huge snowstorm. As soon as I turned from my driveway, I was behind a huge yellow highway department truck. It was traveling along at a sedate 25 miles per hour, spraying anti-skid on the road surface. It preceded me at this turtle pace until it turned off, five minutes from my destination. At least the roads would be safe on the chance that it actually snowed.
Now at the store, I was faced with the prospect of finding an item in this retail behemoth the size of the town I grew up in. Three different answers from three different harassed store employees led me on a merry chase around the entire establishment. Eventually, I stumbled upon the item. The last one in the store, evidently, because after waiting a dog’s age to get to the checkout person, she looked doubtfully at “it” and used 10 minutes of my life to find a price, a process which involved the three previous employees who had put me on my magical mystery tour.
At last back in my car, nose pointed home. But it wasn’t in the stars that night. Holiday time brings out people, like me, who rarely drive, let alone travel at night. I got behind one of these road hazards. It was a Pontiac Bonneville from the 1970s, about the size and shape of a railroad switch engine. I know the make model and year because I was behind it for a human gestation period. For some reason, the operator of this monument to automotive excess was stopping dead every other block. In the middle of the road. I had no way to get around, as the other lane was filled with jet-powered SUVs with the afterburners on. After five of these mystery stops, the traffic behind me was backed up like a constipated boa constrictor that had recently dined on a cow. Then the car behind me began leaning on his horn. And the one behind that. And the one behind that, until an unlovely cacophony ensued.
You know the rest. Of course “it,” the purpose of the trip, was wrong. But then again … so was I.