Tuesday, March 1, 2011

A Morning With Murphy's Law

Today was supposed to be a good day. I had to go to work earlier than normal (which means getting up earlier and facing the bitter morning cold with the dog) but it was all supposed to get better after that. The boys and I were headed to the Science Museum with three free passes and we were all looking forward to it.

After several alarms and half an hour of "Why am I getting up again?" I managed to drag myself out of bed an hour and a half before I had to leave. That was plenty of time to get both the dog's and my morning routines taken care of, pack my lunch and accompanying pills, and snarf an apple and peanut butter, with a few minutes left over to check email, etc.

Planning ahead, I hopped in my car ten minutes early to allow for any residual traffic from rush hour. Yes, sir, the day was off to an easy beginning and could only go up from there!

. . . Or so I thought.

Things started to crumble as I was passing through the airport - roughly ten minutes away from home. I was already a trifle annoyed due to the idiotic morning shows that were monopolizing my favorite radio stations, when my phone started ringing. It was my mom, informing me that I'd left my carefully packed lunch and pills on the kitchen counter. Some quick mental math told me that I could still make it to work on time if I turned around right then and didn't waste any time getting back on the road afterwards.

So I managed a fairly efficient turn around and made my way back out of the airport, took a left and was horrified to see the gates closing at the railroad crossing just ahead. Thankfully it was a really short train, consisting of one engine sandwiched between two pairs of coal cars. The gates went up and we were off like a herd of turtles.

The guy in front of me somehow thought that going 30 in a 45 was the normal thing to do. I couldn't pass him due to lack of visibility and oncoming traffic; so I sat behind him, praying that he wouldn't have far to go before turning off.

He stayed with me most of the way home, but through some careful bending of the speed limit once he was gone I was able to make up some lost time. My mom met me in the driveway and passed lunch and pills through the window and I was off again.

Checking the clock, I was relieved to see that if I just drove my normal route at a sane speed I could make it right on time. And the other drivers were even cooperating with me. Made good time back to the RR Crossing and discovered a very long coal train making its way down the tracks very slowly. I was back to praying.

Thankfully, I had missed the first half of it and it didn't take too long for the rest to pass by. We all put our cars back in gear, ready to make our way to freedom! . . . But the gates didn't go up and the lights continued flashing . . . as another very long coal train made its very slow way down the tracks in the opposite direction. I was no longer praying - I was begging. But just to be on the safe side, I called my boss and let her know that I was most likely going to be a bit late.

Finally, the train ended, the gates rose, and I managed to make it all the way through the airport without incident. A few cars were a trifle slow getting up to speed as we neared the freeway entrance ramp, but nothing terrible. Then we caught up to a Wide Load being hauled up onto the interstate. Took a while, but we made it onto the freeway and were able to pass him and make our jolly way down the road, yet again bending the speed limit. And managed to catch an identical Wide Load - this one in the middle lane, bleeding over into both the left and the right lanes. So we all slowed down and squeezed past.

Traffic wasn't too bad after that, despite the usual assortment of speeders, plodders, and weavers. The construction zone wasn't even too big of a hassle, despite people's fear of the cement wall blocking the shoulder. The clock was still on my side and I was definitely going to make it. No more worries. I wouldn't even have to pay the 20 cent toll to go the fast way.

I exited the interstate right on schedule, got a green light at the intersection and happily made my way to the proper street and turned right. To my utter despair I discovered two large dump trucks and some sort of Caterpillar Tractor Thing scraping leaves off the road and blocking both lanes. (By this point I'm beyond begging - I'm pleading with heaven to get me to work on time and in one piece.) Another car and I were stuck in limbo between the dump trucks, unsure if we should turn around or wait it out, until the CTT driver noticed traffic wanting to go the other way. So he moved and let them through, and we nearly had a massive pileup right there as we were sitting in the only open lane as they whipped around the truck in front of us, unaware that we were even there. Thankfully, they slowed down and we managed to move over onto the shoulder. We then forced our way through the same hole before the CTT guy could get back to work, leaving us stranded.

At this point, I figure either nothing else could possibly go wrong, or my day would continue on this way until I was a ball of tears and drool babbling in the corner. Deciding to be optimistic, I continued my journey. After all, I was within ten minutes of work with the miraculous possibility that I could still get there on time or just a couple minutes late.

At the penultimate major intersection, I had a green light and so was pulling through without stopping when a lady in the cross lanes pulled out in front of me, forcing me to stomp on my breaks, beseeching heaven to spare my life, my car, and the cars and lives behind me. From all I could tell, she wanted to make a right on red, but she was on her phone and therefore distracted. Her brain told her, "Right on red!" so she went for it without stopping to look. It must have occurred to her that this could be dangerous, because she stopped cold, completely blocking my lane. But does she rectify this unfortunate situation quickly and efficiently by continuing on and clearing a path for the rest of us? No. She doesn't. She decides to prove that she's actually a conscientious and law-abiding driver by smiling sheepishly at me as she proceeds to put her car into reverse and back out of my way!

Shaking my head in disbelief, I make my uneventful way through a few more turns before I reach the proper neighborhood, figuring that nothing else could possibly go wrong when I was this close. Total incredulity was no doubt coloring my face as a gas truck pulled out in front of me and poked its way down the road. Thankfully, it continued on past my destination and I was able to pull into the driveway only five minutes late. My boss was waiting in the driveway with the boys, and as soon as I got there, she hopped in her own car and drove away, leaving me with two boys jabbering nonsense at me.

I managed to get myself organized and my stuff stashed in the house quickly enough and went back outside to play with the boys. It was some little boy game consisting of good guys, bad guys, and chocolate hot dogs. I was apparently one of the bad guys, along with the three year old: we were chocolate hot dog thieves. The five year old was the good guy: an extremely fervent and vindictive good guy. Chocolate hot dog thieves must have murdered his family, kicked his dog, and stolen his toys when he was a kid to inspire so much anger and blood lust.

Anyway, as we were making our getaway, he stowed aboard our ship and we were able to capture him. The three year old was all in favor of taking him home and eating him, but I thought he was too tough and stringy. Regardless, our captive's shoes were muddy and he managed to kneel in one of his own muddy footprints. And so, within ten minutes of my being at work, the five year old's nice white khakis have both grass and mud stains on the knee.

After all of these remarkable events, it was with some fear and trepidation that I loaded up the boys and headed back out into the big bad world. But through the grace of God, the rest of the day was incident-free. We had a fairly good time at the museum and my commute home did not involve trains, dump trucks, near misses, or anything beyond a bit of slow traffic and evil afternoon sunlight in my face.

And that, folks, is how I spent my morning. How was yours?