So, it was my night to get Lemony Teeny and Lemony Teen’s Teammate from gym. No big deal…I do this every Tuesday night. But Mr. Lemony is in the Land of Far, Far Away so I was kind of pissy about Lemony Teen’s Teammate’s mother not helping me out by switching up the carpool schedule so I wouldn’t have to drag Lemony Brother and Lemony Child out at 8:30 at night (Child goes to bed at 7:30, Brother at 8:00 and both are long asleep by 8:30). I mentioned it at the bus stop this morning, and my neighbor, D, offered to come sit in my family room for an hour so I could get the girls without dragging the kids along for the ride. SO nice of her. I fawned and made nice and baked her white chocolate chip cookies because I know it’s not easy to bail on your own kids at bedtime.
I promised her I’d be as quick as I could, and that I’d drop Lemony Teen at home before taking Lemony Teen’s Teammate the rest of the way so she could leave half an hour sooner than she would be able to otherwise. She told me not to worry about it, just go and get back when you get back.
Really, how nice is that??
I didn’t expect traffic and it’s not raining, so there should be no problems…
I drove the five miles to the highway and when I got to the on-ramp it was closed. Why, I don’t know, since I didn’t see any construction, but what the hell do I know? I was annoyed, but I just turned around and got on the highway going in the other direction. I figured I could get off one exit up and just turn around. Worked like a charm, and I only lost about 5 minutes of travel time. Plenty of time.
I drove down the highway and then BAM. Traffic. Three lanes shoved down into one. This presents a bit of a problem as I’m still over a mile from the exit I need to get off at, but a minute or two late is no big deal…and then I see it. A big sign, and it says…
“Travel in breakdown lane permitted in work area.”
WOO-hoooOOO! I’m golden.
So I pulled into the breakdown lane and was cruising along (not too fast…it is the breakdown lane after all…) when BAM!! Guy in front of me decides to straddle the line and not let me pass him.
So I did what any reasonable person would do…I leaned on my horn and started screaming at him. He came to a dead stop, which stopped traffic in BOTH lanes, and got out of his car. Stood between his car and mine and started SCREAMING at me.
“What the fuck are you doing? Do you think you’re special? We ALL have to sit in the traffic! You don’t get to BLOW ME OFF!”
“Um, asshole, do you SEE the sign behind you? Right there, two feet from your giant head? Take a gander…see…oh, yeah, you see it now, do you? Good. Now MOVE.”
And in the background every horn on every car for a mile is blaring because traffic is at a standstill. Idiot.
So he drove off and I followed behind, shaking my head at the dude. I got off at the exit I need and BAM!! Orange cones. Everywhere. I can’t take a right, and I don’t know any other way to get where I need to go. I know where taking a left will take me…and it’s not even close. I started to get a bit nervous about the time, picked up my cell phone, and tried to dial the gym to let them know A) I’m late, please don’t leave my kid alone outside the gym…I’ll be there soon, and B) I’m stuck and lost in Another Quiet Village, HELP.
Cell phone. Battery. Dead.
So I did what any reasonable person would do…I shouted FUCK at the top of my lungs and flung the phone into the backseat.
Then I saw a Ground Round. Halla-loooo-YA. People in there will know. I parked the car, ran in the restaurant without turning the engine off, and begged the hostess girl to help me. She was very nice, and she told me how to go around all the orange cones and still end up where I wanted to be.
“Thank you, you rock, you just saved me 18 miles on the highway.”
I got back in my car, pulled out of the parking lot, turned left at the light just like she told me to and BAM!!!! More orange cones. Everywhere. I’m totally stuck behind a truck I can’t see around and some bozo in a Hummer behind me. The Hummer beeped, I shouted BITE ME and banged a three-point-turn.
So much for being saved 18 miles on the highway.
Now, at this point, I’m pretty late picking up the girls and I have no way of calling to tell anybody anything, so for all they know I’m dead somewhere and my neighbor is going to start thinking I left her there with my kids forever while I pull a Thelma and Louise.
I got back on the highway and BAM!! More traffic. Okay, it’s okay, it’s okay, okay, it’s okay, okay...
I finally made it to the next exit, got off, turned LEFT at the light, and BAM!!! Blue lights swirling behind me. I pulled over, hoping the car would just cruise on by, but no, it stopped behind me and Mr. Police Officer got out of the car and walked towards me looking all stern in his big hat and black boots.
So I did what any reasonable person would do…I burst into tears.
I fumbled for the registration and my license as I pushed the button for the window. When he got to my car, I handed him the paperwork and blew my nose at the same time. He stopped dead in his tracks and looked at me…now, mind you, I was calming down after the initial tear-burst.
“Are you all right, ma’am?” says Big Hat and Boots, and I have to say he seemed genuinely concerned.
So I did what any reasonable person would do…I burst into tears all over again.
“No,” I sobbed. “I’m not all right and let me tell you why…I’m late picking up my daughter and her friend from gymnastics because every freaking road and highway on-ramp between here and my house is CLOSED and I don’t know any other way around because I don’t LIVE in this town, you see. I’ve gone six miles north when I wanted to go south, 18 miles extra south when I could have just cut across route 6A-something through Another Quiet Village Center…and what are they DOING there anyway? I saw FIRE! And my cell phone is dead…DEAD I tell you…so I can’t even call anybody to tell them where I am or why I’m so freaking late, and my four year old fell down the stairs tonight and I SWEAR she’s going to have a rhino horn when she wakes up, and my husband is in Far Far Away with an ALLIGATOR so I’m ALL ALONE and have been for DAYS now, so I’m really tired and worn OUT…and I don’t even know why you pulled me over, damn it. Was I speeding? I could have been, I don’t even know…it’s Tuesday, right? Anyway, if you’re going to write me a ticket, can you just write it, because I’m REALLY late, and I still have to figure out how I’m going to get home on roads that are CLOSED.”
DEEEEEEEEP breath. And a honk of the nose.
Big Hat and Boots looked at me and said, “Ma’am, have you been drinking?”
“No,” I said, shaking my head very seriously. “Sadly, this is sober.”
“Go home, ma’am.”
“I think I love you right now,” I said. Yes, really, that’s what I said.
And off I went, down back roads that I’m barely familiar with during the day, and finally got to Lemony Teeny’s gym. There she sat, on the bench outside, with Lemony Teen’s Teammate…and LEMONY TEEN’S TEAMMATE’S FATHER.
“Um, B? Did you forget it was my night to pick up the girls?”
“No, but L said you were stuck without a babysitter and that I should get them. Lemony Teen said you were coming, though, so we didn’t want to leave and worry you when you got here and the place was deserted. We tried to call…is your cell phone on? Oh, and that construction mess! Did you get stuck in that?”
Lemony Teen’s Teammate’s father. Was. THERE. And nobody called to tell me either at home or on my dead cell phone. I didn’t HAVE TO GO OUT. I sat there with my mouth hanging open and a loud buzzing in my brain. And then…
I did what any reasonable person would do…I started laughing like a deranged lunatic.