These are a few of my favorite things
Don’t you just love it when you’re traveling, and it’s 6 p.m. and you’re starving, and you’re on a country road, and it’s 92 degrees outside, and suddenly you come to a complete stop, seeing cars stopped for miles in front of you and there’s nothing around except an occasional cow and some trees, and for some reason the folks going the other way are zipping by, no problem, looking at you with gleeful smirks, and you don’t know how or whom to call to find out what’s going on?
And then I love it when not one, not two, but THREE dashboard lights suddenly go on, one of them the “Brake!” light, the other two totally indecipherable, but you’re on the way to the mountains, and navigating a mountain road with no brakes is more excitement than you want, so while you’re sitting there you page through your owner’s manual (which you keep in the door well on the opposite side of the front seat, so you have to unbuckle your seatbelt and stretch across the middle console, three empty water bottles, the mail you picked up on the way out of your driveway, your purse, your book-on-tape, your Subway leftovers, and four bags from Cracker Barrel to retrieve it) and then you read: “If ‘Brake!’ light is on, and emergency brake is not engaged, stop IMMEDIATELY and find the nearest Toyota dealer.” And, “If ‘ABS’ light is on, see Toyota dealer; if ‘Brake!’ light is on at the same time, stop IMMEDIATELY and find nearest Toyota dealer.” And, finally, “If ‘DSC’ light is on, as well as the ‘ABS’ light, and God forbid the ‘Brake!’ light, too, stop IMMEDIATELY, leap from car and run into traffic, or face immediate annihilation!!”
Now stopping is no problem. You’re already stopped, and folks are getting out of their cars all around, peering down the road, talking to each other, tossing the football, spreading picnic blankets … it’s the finding of a nearby Toyota dealer that’s the challenge, because you, personally, don’t even know where you are, and people give you that pitying look when you ask them, “Where am I, exactly?” ... not that I ever do that ... but, after 10 minutes of sitting, this is what you do, not leaving the car, of course, because as previously mentioned, it’s gotta be 92 %$#@ DEGREES OUT THERE, which is why you’re going to the mountains in the first place, so you lower your window and call out to the nearest picnicking motorist, and he says there’s one about 25 miles – behind you.
It’s really fun to sit there running your car in the blinding heat, determined to blast the air conditioner as long as it holds out, trying to decide what to do, wondering how long your gas will last, berating yourself for drinking all the water and eating that last Subway cookie, because everyone knows that in cases like this pretty soon people run out of food and water and start looking at one another as if they are giant pork roasts, and all you have for protection is a spare bottle of perfume you keep in the glove compartment that you could temporarily blind someone with, or a hanging bag that is so heavy it would crush anyone on which it fell.
And don’t you love that moment when you see everyone jumping back into their cars, because you’re starting to roll, and you send up a prayer to St. Christopher, patron saint of travel (because even if the church has dethroned him, you aren’t taking any chances), and you put the car in gear and move exactly 13 feet before stopping again, and the folks coming the other way aren’t sneering any more, but are downright laughing as they pass. You’re really getting steamed and vowing to contact the head of the highway department if you ever get out of this, and raise holy hell because certainly whatever is going on up the road could be handled by simply allowing oncoming traffic to flow for a while, then letting our side go up their lanes for a while, and it shouldn’t take a frickin’ Harvard degree to figure that out, am I right?!
And, my absolute favorite is when you finally do get to a stop-n-roll status, and it takes you 38 minutes to go 3 ½ miles, but finally there’s a mini-mart, and you go inside for directions back to the Toyota place, and buy several bottles of water, two bags of trail mix, and a can of Beanie Weenie ... uh, please, like I ever eat Beanie Weenie ... and head back the way you’ve come, and after 15 miles you just happen to notice that all the dashboard lights have gone off, and the car is just fine.
Yeah, I love that.
Vicki Wentz is a local writer, teacher and speaker. Readers may contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit her website, www.vickiwentz.com.