A Collective of Short Thoughts

I’ve been a bit preoccupied with surviving the week and my interview that is coming up tomorrow to put much thought into an actual post these last few days. Instead, I’ll list a few malformed thoughts that have meandered through my mind of late. Enjoy. Or flee now.

 

  • “Stoptional” I’ve learned that nobody actually stops at stop signs anymore, unless there is oncoming traffic. There are varying degrees of severity while blowing stop signs, but if the police pulled over everyone who didn’t actually stop at a sign, we’d never get anything else done. As an added bonus, if there are two cars coming to a sign, regardless of what the first one does, the second will immediately follow the first out without even attempting to stop, slow down, or care. This isn’t a joke or an exaggeration- I’m betting 90% of the time I see two cars coming to a stop sign, the second will warrant a traffic stop.
    -Use your heads people. The signs say “Stop” not “Look.”
  • “Lost Summer” We’ve have barely any days at all where the temperatures have struck 90. There have been a few 80+ days, but very, very few actual summer days. And my August mornings are greeting me with temperatures at low as 40. I actually left for work the other morning in a sweatshirt. As an avid fan of summer, I am not thrilled by this.
  • “The Power of Tagging” I’ve learned that my humble blog’s traffic will increase when I tag a post with two very interesting things. ‘Exercise’ and ‘Cats.’ The post I did the other day about having a mouse in the house as well as two useless cats produced one of my highest days for traffic. And every time I mention the rare instance of me exercising, I’ll get a like or a hit from a fellow blogger whose entire body of work is reminding me how much of a sloth I am compared to some of these very healthy, very fit, much-more-awesome-than-me people are. I think I’ll stop using that tag.
    TL:DR- Tag everything with ‘cats’ and your traffic will go up. Tag everything with ‘exercise’ and your traffic will also go up, but you’ll feel terrible about yourself.
  • “Onomatopoeia” Our two year old identifies animals by the sounds they make. Cows are “Moooo.” Cats, “Meow” and monkeys are “Eee-ees.” He can also do this throaty grunt to imitate the sound of a frog that is simply uncanny. “There’s the cat” becomes “De-a Meow!” Its hilarious and sort of adorable.
  • “Terrible Friends” Terrible friends make the best friends when you’re also a terrible friend. My wife and I were talking the other night about how within out closest circle of friends, only one of them makes an effort to visit the rest. We don’t, and the others are also not usually available to visit either. One of our best friends has a three year old boy that we’ve met once, and a little girl that we’ve never met, and they’ve never lived more than an hour and a half from us. Our two year old son has been met by the others only once as well. But none of this matters, we are all still very close. Geographically, we are all in the same state and within a few hour’s driving distance. But we all understand the rigors of grown-up family life, and our seeming complacency towards visiting each other is understood and ignored, and the little group we have is still close, despite being terrible friends. Hell, one of them was visiting someone IN MY TOWN the other day, and never let us know she was less than three miles away. But it doesn’t bother us, even a little. We know. We understand. A lot of folks lose friends when they start having kids because others simply don’t understand. Becoming parents creates terrible friends, and terrible friends stick together, and are the best of friends.

So, for a bit of life advice from AD today…. Tag all your post with ‘cats,’ stop at stop signs, complain about the weather, and make friends with people who are bad friends.

I’ll most likely have a real post tonight from my hotel room. I’ve decided to head up north for my interview the night before so I am not facing a three and a half hour drive after waking up at 5am. A bleary-eyed, coffee-laced, travel weary applicant hardly ever makes a splash with prospective employers.

 

Where’s That Damn Suit?

My brother-in-law is the type of guy that not only looks damn good and sharp in a suit, but he is comfortable in one. There isn’t an event that he could attend while wearing a suit and look uncomfortable. The man could show up to a beach party dressed to the nines and still look like he belongs there- that’s how well he wears these things.

Not my brother-in-law, but an accurate depiction.

Me? I show up to wakes and the guy in the box is wearing his finery better than I am.

In fact, I have promised to haunt the hell out of any remaining family members if when I die, they choose to bury me in a suit.

Ties completely befuddle me. Until recently, I had no clue that there were about 92 different ways to knot one. I’ve been using one knot the entire time. Apparently, that’s a major no-no, and depending on the thickness of the tie, color of the tie, make of the tie, time of day, season of the year, altitude, barometric pressure, severity of the gala you’re attending, and brand of perfume worn by the hostess- there is a different knot you should be using.

“Oh my Charles…here we are at a birthday party after five on a Tuesday in June, and that….man…is wearing a thin tie with a half windsor knot done over with a 3/4 twist overhand backbow. How DID he get in here?”

“I can assure you Clarice, I have no idea. I shall see to it that he is beaten by the servants after they throw him out of here. The NERVE of some people.”

Some of these look like accidents. (source: ties.com)

Looking at the image above, all I can think of is that anyone who ties any of the last four knots is doing the grown up equivalent of a toddler standing on the couch before a swan dive into pillows lining the floor: “Mommy! Look at me!”

All this being said….in spite of my befuddlement and confusion and discomfort, there are times when I need to shed my bumpkin ways and put on a suit and look like an idiot.

Job interviews for one. As if interviews aren’t awkward and uncomfortable enough, now I need to sit there in ill-fitting attire that is making me sweat and somehow or other feel naked at the same time, with shoes that aren’t hardly fit to WALK in, much less do anything else at all, and wearing a tie that probably looks more like a hangman’s noose than an attempt at civility.

Job interview protocol needs to change. Immediately. Applicants need to be allowed to show up dressed for the job they’re interviewing for rather than one of those faceless mannequins you see at a Johnathan Reid store.

“You want this job? Let’s see how well you wear attire that you’ll never even once be asked to wear while working this job.” – How does that make sense?

“Oh man, you can REALLY rock those khakis and golf shirt. You’ve got the IT job.”

“Your jeans are the perfect shade of faded. Welcome to the contracting industry.”

…THESE make sense.

But…I’m just complaining.

On Friday, I need to be wearing my finest monkey suit when I go back on my 3.5 hour drive to the job I’m hoping to land. I’ll tie a tie and shine my shoes. I’ll make sure I’m not wearing white socks, and that I’ve buttoned only one of the buttons on the suit jacket. (that’s a thing, look it up.) I’ll dance the dance in the hopes that I never have to go through one of these interviews again, and I shall hide the finery in the closet until someone dies or gets married.

….What? I have a wedding to go to a mere three days later? You’re joking.

Oh well. At least I don’t have to wear a tuxedo. You want awkward? AD in a tux is about as bad as it gets. Accidentally asking a non-pregnant lady when she is due is less uncomfortable than I am in a tuxedo, but I’ve had to wear one more times than I care to count…those though…are stories for another time.

Hello. Yes, I am a Weirdo.

So I’ve mentioned before that I have what might be considered a strange hobby- poking around old cemeteries. The history and mysteries that can be found in them are amazing sometimes.

The place I’m working for my day job is a small rural community that is rife with very old cemeteries ranging from the large to the tiny family plots. You can’t drive very far without seeing a cluster of old tombstones hidden in the trees just in from the road…if you’re looking.

In the last two weeks I have visited four more cemeteries, all within a short distance of the school I’m working, and I might detail some of those visits later.

Right now though, I want to tell you about one of the downsides to this little hobby of mine.

Sometimes…you look like a creep.

Last week I was shooting the breeze with one of the school’s maintenance guys, and the subject of my hobby came up. Now, I wish I could tell you that he looked at me funny and told me I was weird…but no. It gets much worse than that.

Dave tells me that just behind the old ball field of the school there is an old tractor path with “Two old stones just off the road.” I immediately grew interested and asked if he knew anything about them. He shook his head and said that all he knew was that there was a woman buried there.

Now, if you’ll remember one of my earlier posts, I mentioned a family plot in the big cemetery in the area that is missing the mother. No burial records of any kind find her anywhere. I knew it was a LONG shot, but I thought maybe she’d been buried in this small little family plot in the woods.

Here’s where it starts to get awkward.

I find the tractor path in the woods and start up into the woods. Somewhere ahead of me I hear a motor running and a short while later I see an orange tractor moving through the trees. I figured it was one of the maintenance people on a job so I don’t think anything of it. As I move down the path, I spy the stones through the wood and start toward them. About that moment, I looked up and see the man on the tractor- who was NOT one of the maintenance guys- waving me over. At this point, I realize “Oh balls. I’m on private property.”

I walked over to the man in the tractor, who turned out to be a portly, shirtless, middle-aged ‘good ‘ole boy’ from the area. I figured I was going to be at the very least tongue-lashed for trespassing, at the most held at gunpoint until he could call the police.

I channeled my people-person skills, cracked a smile and waved at him as I got closer.

“How we doin?” I asked him in a friendly, casual tone, as if we’d known each other for years.

“Can I help you?” He asked me- thankfully, more confused sounding than angry.

“Maybe you can.” I said. “I work down at the school, one of the custodians mentioned that there were a few old tombstones up here in the woods, and checking them out is sort of a hobby of mine. Did I cross from the school’s property? I didn’t realize I was on private land.”

“Yes.” He said slowly. “This is private land. Its my land. You said you work at the school?”

“I do. I work IT for them from time to time.”

“You from around here?”

“Yes. Well. Kind of. I live over in <Another town>.” Then I did it. For the first time, I did it. I used my other job to try to wiggle myself out of  potential trouble. “I’m actually a cop over there, the school is my day job.”

He seemed to relax. “Oh. Okay. Yes, there are a few stones up there. There are three actually. They’re my parents and my uncle. It’s a family plot. One of these days I’ll be buried there too.”

BLAMMO.

Now Its awkward. I, a perfect stranger, had come wandering through the trees dressed in professional attire, essentially looking for the burial sites of this man’s parents. Then he made it worse.

“They’re right up there if you want to check them out. They’re not that old.”

Now I’m in a spot. I don’t want to seem disrespectful by telling the man “Nah, your family isn’t that interesting, have a nice day,” but I also didn’t want to look like the creep and say “Hell yeah, I’ll go check out your dead parents.”

While I decided what to do, we made some small talk. I apologized for trespassing, to which he shrugged and told me that as long as he knew I wasn’t “One of those city people who just comes up and wanders around on his land” he was cool with my little interference. He even recommended a few other places in the area for me to check out, and pointed me in the direction of the local historical society in the event that I wanted to look into anything specifically.

He turned out to be a hell of a nice guy once he realized I wasn’t just some random jerk who crossed onto his land for the hell of it.

In the end, I chose the part of the creep, and went up and checked the stones out. The last burial there was 2011. A crisp new stone with the man’s parents, and two other smaller stones, not as new, but nowhere near as old as I was looking for. I paid my respects to these strangers for a few moments, apologized to them for intruding, and wandered back out to the car while the old man looked on from his tractor as he went about whatever errand he was up to before I came along.

I couldn’t leave fast enough. I think in the end I was bothered more by the incident than the old man was. I don’t like awkward. Hell, I leave the room when scripted relationship awkwardness happens on TV. To find myself squarely in the middle of it on my own doing? Outstanding.

The problem with interest in the dead is interaction with the living apparently.

On a related note, I have decided to pour much more effort into finding Sara Frazer. I have a few leads I want to track down, and I think it could be an interesting story if I do it, and tell it right.

On an UNRELATED note….this week starts the nail-biting. The prospective job I went looking for last week starts interviews this week. If I don’t get a callback from them by the end of the week, I’ve been passed over and I won’t be happy. The more I think about this job, specifically in this location- the more I want it.

Will advise. Now, I’m back to the 16 hour work day. One of two this week.

 

Put Off Procrastinating.

One of these days, amongst my many other failings, but boys will learn that their daddy is a massive procrastinator. When I was in college, I used to lie and say that I functioned best under pressure, that procrastination led me to do some of my most creative work.

Now that I am older I realize how much bunk that is, but still don’t stop procrastinating.

As you know, I am in line for a job interview today. A big one. One for a job that I covet badly. There was a massive amount of paperwork that needed to be done before I leave this morning on the 400+ mile round trip drive to and from the interview site. (Yes, its worth it.)

Last night, before bed, there were still some rather large loose ends to tie up, but I was going to tackle them as soon as the kids went to bed.

The thing with procrastination is, that it is never simply a time issue. When you procrastinate, you open the door to many other catastrophes.

Immediately after settling in to finish the work, and in the middle of a major print job…..the printer is out of ink. Panic sets in. I ran around like an idiot for a few moments before I decided to duck into the office this morning and finish the print job.

I carefully save the print jobs needed to a flash drive, and move on with the other tasks that need to be completed. My wife, knowing what lay ahead, makes me a cup of coffee.

Two sips in, and three words on the paper….the scanner goes off. You see, I was on call last night. So instead of filling out an employment history, I went to a two and a half hour ambulance call, coming home at midnight.

My wife was more than a little annoyed when I enlisted her help around the time that yesterday turned into today to wrap this paperwork up. We landed in bed around 1am, and I prayed there were no more calls before 6am when my shift ended, or I might be completely boned.

Thankfully, no more calls, but I was up five hours later to duck into the office and get my print jobs done. I finished my packet of paperwork less than two hours before I get in the car to leave, and am completely exhausted from the knocking around I needed to do because I kept putting the work off. There’s a lesson here somewhere. I’ll look for it later.

So here I sit, my last entry before I embark on a three and a half hour drive that could result in the landing a life-altering job.

It promises to be a long and trying day. If you don’t see me for a while, its because I have expended all of my energy getting through this afternoon.

“You Got This Bro?” – The Tale of a Useless Cat

Last night I put Mini-Me down in his crib for bed and he immediately woke back up from the slumber he had been in from the rocking chair. Being tired myself, I laid with him on the futon until he fell asleep again. I lounged there with my son and my netflix, relaxing for a while.

Suddenly, the door to the bedroom opened and my wife was waving at me frantically. I wondered if maybe there wasn’t a fire call coming in over the scanner, or something to that effect. Whatever it was, it was important, so I carefully lowered Mini-Me back into his crib. Thankfully, he stayed this time.

When I came into the living room I found my wife.

Standing on a chair.

“There’s a mouse.”

Ah.

source: wikimedia, google images

We’d been hearing signs of the little fellow for a while and had even set some traps with no luck. Last night though, he apparently fled from the kitchen area and into the living room.

Cue Snack and Hobbes. Our two wonder cats. When we had first moved into the house, the only things that had been living there were the mice, and for a while, the two mighty hunters were doing their job and eliminating them until there were no more.

Well, the lessons of the past must have been forgotten, because they failed hardcore last night, but we’ll get to that in a moment.

Based on the intent stares and twitching tails of the two cats, it was obvious to me that Mickey had run under the couch. I grabbed my flashlight and lamented not having a BB gun on hand. I shined the light under the sofa and found him. In a flash of intelligence, I slid the couch away from the wall a bit to let the cats be able to move back there, hopefully upping their chances of catching it.

Now, before I continue- I need to make a note of something. When briefing me from atop the chair on the situation, my wife made sure to comment to me that this mouse was bigger than usual. How she is so acquainted with the ‘usual’ size of mice is quite beyond me, but the way she described him, I fully expected my flashlight beam to illuminate something akin to a furry twinkie. Or perhaps even Splinter the rat. I didn’t have the heart to tell her that the demon rodent that she had seen was in actuality, no more bigger or scarier than any other mouse I have had the pleasure of coming into contact with.

Frightened women tend to exaggerate almost as badly as men who hunt and fish.

Almost.

Anyway.

To my wife’s credit, while I had Mickey cornered, she hopped off the chair long enough to scoop armfuls of the kids’ toys off of the floor.
My plan to move the couch to give killers #1 and 2 a chance to finish off the beast was in vain. Dim and Wit did little more than circle the couch with twitching tails leaving me to come up with a new plan.

Enter the asp.

No- not the snake, calm down.

This thing.

The collapsible baton that you see cops everywhere carrying. Useful as visual deterrents, physical deterrents, or opening the random coconut from the grocery store. (This is literally all that I’ve used mine for to date)

I hated to do it, but I knew that it was literally him or me. If he managed to escape unscathed, both of the useless cats as well as myself would have been packing bindles for our boxcar trip into hobodom, and my wife would have been in the market for a creature more useful in eliminating threats from her home.

I tried to get clever and flush him out, but the little fink was quick. He darted out from under the couch, through a maze of toys that had not yet been picked up, dodged a clumsy swing of the baton from me, and dove under the love seat.

Snack and Hobbes watched this with excitement, so I thought their chase would be on again.

Nope.

A moment of two later, Mickey fled from under the love seat and tried to get back into the kitchen. Hobbes chased after him and cornered him.

“AH HA!” I say to myself, thinking that the cat would finally become useful beyond binge eating and barfing on the bath mats.

Again, nope.

Instead of following his instincts, the cat ceased his chase and looked at me as if to say “You got this bro?” I swore at the cat and finished poor mickey off with a gruesome game of whack-a-mole.

Problem solved.

However, now that the cats have witnessed me being able to do their jobs, I am afraid that they will completely devolve into a domesticated uselessness, perpetuating the cycle of eat, sleep, poop, hide from kids….and nothing at all more.

As for me, I’m trying to figure out if “cat substitute” is an acceptable addendum to the resume.

That’s all for now. Big interview happens tomorrow, and my paperwork is not yet complete. I am surprisingly calm about it all, although I suspect that tonight will be a different matter.

Come back soon and find out how we did tomorrow.

~AD

Decompressing

We are about to leave for the bulk of the weekend so I can go do a short bike tour with my father and brother in law tomorrow.

I’m leaving my paperwork for the new job home. I had intended on bringing it with me and filling out the 18 page questionnaire in my spare time, but I’m going to use the next day and a half to decompress a bit before I plunge into what will be a rather significant undertaking. I want to make sure it is all done correctly, so I don’t really care to rush into it without a bit of a break from the rigors of last week.

No, it makes much more sense to come back at it on Sunday night/Monday morning with a fresh set of eyes and brain that is a bit less soaked in exhaustion. Granted, visiting my in-laws has turned into something less than complete relaxation, but I’ll have some time alone tomorrow as I meander through the 25 mile course at a leisurely pace. I usually end up alone on these rides. The guys I usually ride with are doing the 45 mile ride, so while we might start together, it won’t be long before they diverge from me. And since I literally know nobody else there, I won’t be buddied up with anyone. Before too long it will be me, the bike, and the road for however long it takes me to finish the tour.

That should give me a little bit of time to breathe and unwind a little.

The stress and anxiety I feel whenever I look at the stack of entrance paperwork and list of required documentation is building. So much is riding on my doing everything perfectly. If I’m to break the cycle of exhaustion, wheel spinning, and professional stagnation, it starts here. So, as important as it is, I’m putting it off until I have some mental-health time.

I’m leaving the laptop home, so I’ll be back Monday. I sincerely hope that on my way out the door I forget my cell phone too. Completely unplugging for 24-36 hours will do wonders for the noggin.

Ah well. Enjoy the weekend readers.

Shredded Daddy?

I know, I know, I said I was going to be largely unavailable for the next few days, buried under paperwork and other things necessary to survive. But I found a few moments to share an example of profound stupidity on my part.

My wife was working hard on new product for her etsy shop when I came home, and the boys were doing what they usually do….picking on each other and playing with various boxes and toys.

I decided to take hold of the dinner situation and chose some loaded steak fries. Melted cheddar, chopped onion and avocado, crumbled bacon, and sour cream.

Simple, filling, tasty. So I began prepping things early. You know, chopping, thawing, grating.

Grating.

There was a wonderful block of sharp cheddar that I almost hated to use all at once, but I know that if you’re going to melt cheese over anything, you need to use a lot of it, so I began the process of shredding it.

Enter mankind’s dumbest invention ever:

In an age where we can instantaneously access information, or use technology to lock our car doors via satellite from a thousand miles away,  or use lasers to repair damaged parts of the human body…How in the hell have we not managed to create something that that can shred cheese without putting one’s appendages so close to danger?

If you read the title and saw the above picture, you can guess what happened.

Now, this isn’t a significant boo-boo. No stitches are needed, or anything like that. I’m just really annoyed at myself for being dumb enough to think that I could master a device that was clearly designed during the inquisition with a purpose that had nothing to do with food in mind.

I’m also a little miffed that I, a grown-ass man, am unable to simply prepare dinner without such little incidents. Moments before, The Narrator asked me if he could grate the cheese.

My response to him was “No, the grater is dangerous, you can get hurt.”

An instant later, as I was suppressing the urge to vocalize obscenities in any language or dialect that came to mind, I could see his arched eyebrows and look that begged the question “Are you sure you don’t want me to do that? You don’t seem to be able to handle it.”

Anyway. The cheese is grated, and I am proud of myself for neither hammer-tossing the cursed instrument of torture out the window or poking several .40 holes in it in rapid succession.

I guess if I can’t teach the boys grace and caution, at least congeniality and restraint in the face of our own silliness is just as good.

 

Don’t Fight With the Old Man.

I’m working a day shift on the road today, so I won’t have time to put up any real commentary, so I’ll tell a quick story instead.

Yesterday, The Narrator and I were running some errands in town. The roads have been jammed all weekend with bicyclists, there was a massive event in town, we were the only U.S. Stop on the Mountain Biking World Cup. We had hundreds of mountain bikers everywhere.

Great for the town, bad for driving. They’d ride three abreast in either lane making it impossible to pass or go around them. It required patience.

Anyway.

On one of the main arteries where they traveled to and from the event venue, tripping at the speed limit of 45 was a rotten idea. It has several curves and hills, so bearing in mind what was going all weekend, I was moving considerably slower than that as I drove down the road. At the end of it, there is a golf course with a crosswalk across the road that leads to their main parking lot.

We came around the corner by the golf course, and up ahead of me I see an older gentleman who is making his way across the road in such a leisurely manner that he might have been confused for someone taking a nature  hike or about to die.

He sees me, still quite a distance away, and breaks into this sort of half-jog that trundles him along not really any faster than he had been walking. He gets across the road, turns to face me, and starts to pump his hand in the universal sign for “SLOW DOWN!”

This annoyed me. First of all, he could have continued his zombie-like shuffle across the road all day long and since he is a pedestrian in a cross walk, I would have had to wait- and I would have too. If it required coming to a complete stop…no problem. I know how the road and traffic works. I didn’t make him run, and I sure as hell wasn’t driving fast enough for him to NEED to run.

So I beeped at him as I went by. It is difficult to convey any sort of emotion in the tone of your horn, but it apparently did the trick, because in my rear-view mirror I see him- decked out in his straw cowboy hat, and pastel-colored golf shirt….throw his hands and arms out wide in the universal “BRING IT!” gesture- which looked HILARIOUS coming from him. Without thinking, I started to slow down and go have a conversation with him.

Then I thought. Thankfully.

Going back to pick a fight with an old man wasn’t a good idea. I was driving significantly below the speed limit, and was still slowing as I saw him in the crosswalk, but apparently I was moving fast enough that I ruined his mosey across the road, and that irked him.

From what I can figure, he was a local guy. I reached this conclusion because I’ve been told that the old locals have been complaining about the increased traffic in town all weekend and they “can’t wait for them all to leave.”

This geezer mistook me for another out-of-towner and he figured he was going to do as he damn well pleased since this was his town. If that meant crawling across the road, or perhaps laying down in the middle of it just so he could pick a fight with one of these upstart bicyclists….damn it he was gonna.

Oh well.

Highway to Hell

When I was growing up, we spent a lot of time on the road. Sometimes it was visiting family, sometimes it was on vacation, or making that six hour annual trip to Gettysburg every summer. My father would constantly remark that “It isn’t any fun to drive anymore.” I never understood why until I began my extensive career on the road.

To quickly rehash my road-resume, I’ve done two trips from Florida to NY, one trip across country and back, valued at 7500 miles in eleven days, my old job used to have me put in anywhere from 150-200 miles a day between clients, my wife used to live an hour and a half away when we were dating, and I’d visit as often as I could, I’ve done countless trips to Pennsylvania on my own, and have crossed and recrossed NY from east to west and back again more times than I can count. I’ve driven through major cities like Boston, New York, Orlando, Seattle, Chicago, Milwaukee, and more. I’ve literally done every single mile of I-90 at one time or another from Seattle to Boston. I’ve been on major highways in over half the the states in the Continental U.S., and I’ve witnessed drivers from damn near everywhere….and most of this was before I turned 30. In just over a decade of driving, I’ve managed to log this sort of experience. (I didn’t license until I was 18, rather than the usual 16.)

I love to drive. I really do. I’ve cruised in new cars and limped home in bangers, and every trip has a story.

But the more and more I drive, the more I realize that my father had a point so many years ago. Driving can be no fun, and it often has to do with other drivers.

There’s a lot of snark anywhere you go about one place having worse drivers than everywhere else, and it is total bunk. People from New Jersey take a lot of heat from the populace in the Northeast for being the worst drivers around. The truth of the matter is, the worst driver ANYWHERE….is anyone on the highway at any given time.

Nowhere else will you find a complete disregard for basic human decency and common sense such that you will on an interstate.

Rudeness and self-centered activity are so commonplace on the road that if you don’t drive in a similar fashion, you’ll become a smouldering pile of ash and twisted metal on the shoulder somewhere. Driving on an interstate is like living in a bad neighborhood. Get tough and mean, or you’re in trouble. If you drive defensively, it is an exhausting procedure, because you’re constantly on the lookout for potential trouble drivers.

I’ve seen cars on merge lanes have to come to a complete stop on a posted 65 MPH highway because nobody from the right lane will bother to move into the left lane and let them merge.

I’ve watched two trucks leisurely pass each other at speed differences of about 1 mile an hour, stacking traffic up behind them for miles.

I’ve seen people line up in the passing lane to overtake a slower driver, only to have some dingbat fly up the right lane and horn himself into the line of people patiently waiting their turn to pass.

I’ve watched people pass ON THE SHOULDER to get around someone else.

There are tailgaiters, speed freaks, passing-lane hogs, elephant races, pushers, and more. It is so bad in NY, that we don’t have the common decency to move out of the right lane for the safety of emergency vehicles that might be parked on the right shoulder….we had to make a law. That law still gets ignored.

Occasionally though….in this lawless wild frontier that is the interstate highway, there is a glimmer of hope, a small token that reminds you that decency may still exist, even in a place like this.

– Like when that line of cars in the left passing lane suddenly tighten up and fail to let the speed freak jerk in the right lane wedge himself in to traffic:

Diagram2
Or, my absolute favorite is when you find another driver that you can make a connection with. I’ve done long drives where there’s another car heading in the same direction as me for an extended period of time. An unspoken bond may sometimes be formed and you start to function as a team. Letting each other pass, or holding traffic a bit so the other one can get into the passing lane…little things like that. You may never even make eye contact with the other driver, but for miles- or even hours, you play off of each other, stay tight, and ally against the lunacy that is the highway around you.

My point today really, is that the highway is a strange place. It is part Wild West, part lawless post-apocalyptic wasteland, and part demolition derby at times. But there is also occasionally a tiny glimpse of humanity. Rare amongst the overwhelming majority of people out there who are driving for themselves, everyone else be damned.

I’d love to tell you that I am a constant courteous driver and that my tactics are strictly defensive in nature. But I’d be lying. There isn’t a soul out there who hasn’t had a moment or two or six where they feel a primal urge to slam the accelerator down and blow the doors off of some nimrod who is traveling the passing lane at ten miles an hour under the speed limit. We’ve all done it.

I try to do it less when I have the boys in the car. For two reasons.

First, they’re safety is obviously very important.

Secondly….well, I don’t feel like having to explain what some of the words I’m using mean.

 

What’s That Saying?

“When it rains, it pours.” Indeed, this could be a wonderful thing, if you’re a plant. Or perhaps a duck. It is all a matter of perspective I suppose. However, since I am not of the waterfowl breeds, nor do I spend much time converting Co2 into breathable oxygen, the sentiment has a much more negative connotation.

And it often breeds true.

The last few days have not only seen it rain, but ‘pour’ enough that the concept of building an ark has in fact occurred to me. In truth, all of the issues that have arisen are nominal on the sliding scale of problems that ranges from “Hangnail” to “Everybody is dead.” However, enough small things can in fact make a decent sized pile.

For starters, my wife and I had a rather heated conversation about my changing my schedule in the upcoming months to keep me home more at night. When I work late she is faced with putting both kids to bed by herself, and if Mini-Me doesn’t go down easy, The Narrator often doesn’t go to sleep until nine, which is not acceptable when he starts school. So she wants me home. My concerns about the loss of income due to the limited schedule were lined up against her concerns for the well being of our children. Long story short, I looked like a jackass, and the schedule is being changed.

Then I broke the lawn mower. Again. It is severe this time. The battery has had trouble for some time, to the point where I’ve had to jump it with the car to get it going. Once its running, everything was hunky dory until I shut it off again. This time though, it fired up, ran for about half an hour, then died, not to be resurrected for anything.

Not only did it die, but it died on enough of an incline in the lawn that I needed to tow the damn thing out of the lawn with the car. Which, when you’re doing that sort of thing alone, sees you doing a lot of running back and forth to change the steering wheel position of the tractor, pulling it a few feet, then moving the wheels again.

Cursing is not optional.

Then I find out that a series of significant one-time expenses this month have taken a serious toll on us already. This issue isn’t severe, since the situation will be remedied as early as this afternoon. Still. One more little problem atop of the other little problems….Stress.

To top it off, I ran up to the uniform and equipment supplier that our department uses so I could pick up some equipment I would need for a bike patrol this weekend. I shelled out my own money, because getting funds released from the budget takes an act of congress and presidential approval. Then I find out that the chief changed the plans, and took me off of bike patrol…without bothering to tell me. So I ate significant expense for nothing….and SINCE I’m not going to use the equipment, my chances of getting reimbursed for it is fairly dim.

If you’re still with me, I don’t intend to whine the whole time. There are some great things happening too.

The Narrator is getting the hang of his summer soccer program, and we’ll be dog-sitting for a friend next month, which I’m excited about since it will expose the boys to a constant animal presence outside of our two dumb cats. Not only that, but the two dumb cats might be forced to live for a few weeks outside of their overly-luscious comfort zones. They’re getting fat and lazy, and a little bit of “WHAT THE HELL IS THAT!?!?” won’t be so bad for them.

I’m also getting to do a little more exercise. I went for a run for the first time in a few weeks the other day. I finally shelled out for some new running shoes. My old faithful “go-fasters” were so lacking in support that I might as well have been running barefoot. A mile and a half in those things was enough to set the legs to burning and the knees to ache from the impact.

Changing things up saw me put in two miles the other day, and I felt like a million bucks afterwards. No aches, no pains, other than the usual soreness from rusty muscles being yanked out of what they assumed was an early retirement. The bit of working out I’m doing, as well as my near-total elimination of garbage from my diet has me coping with a nasty schedule so much better. There might be something to this ‘health fad’ after all.

Don’t get me wrong….I’m not going weird on you. The other night, my wife had a hankering for nachos, and that struck a chord with me, so I drove to the nearby general store and made it happen…I said ‘near total’ elimination of garbage.

And finally, Mini-Me is sleeping better. He’ll wake up maybe once a night, but goes immediately back to sleep when I lay him back down and pat him on the ass for a few minutes. No more spending hours on daddy’s chest. The drawback is that he’s awake earlier, but I’ll take my wake-ups early rather than frequently any day of the week.

…So, on the grand scheme of things, we’re about balanced. Some minor victories, and a few minor setbacks.

So to bring it full circle from the beginning, When it rains, it does in fact pour. But I’ve got an umbrella, and it doesn’t even have that many holes in it.