Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Fake It Till You Make It (Down the One-Way Street)

I learned something the other day, while in the People's Republic of Iowa City:

If you find yourself driving down a one-way street going the wrong way, you should look surprised – nay, irritated – to see another car coming at you in “your lane.”

If you look irritated enough, the driver of the other car – the car going the right way on the one-way street – may question whether or not they are actually driving the right way on the one-way street.

At least, they will if that driver is me.

There I was, driving in the left lane of the 2-lane, one-way street (Clinton St.) where it swoops around the back of the Johnson County Administration Building, cursing my luck for being in the left lane, which becomes a turn-only lane at the stop light at South Gilbert and wondering which of the nice people in the long line of cars zipping along in the right lane would be so kind as to let me merge in front of them when I looked up and . . .

Saw a car ahead of me. In my lane. Coming at me.

At that moment I discovered that when a crash seems imminent time slows, and your senses are enhanced so that you can take in a plethora of information.

What I thought: “Oh my! That car is going the wrong way on this one-way street. Surely they will pull into that driveway up ahead so as to avoid a head-on collision.”

What I actually said: “Ohshitohshitohshitohshit.”

What I could plainly read on the face of the driver of the oncoming car: “I refuse to let my driving be restrained by the arbitrary assignment of directions to streets. Maybe this street has self-identified as a two-way! How dare you impose your bourgeoisie ideas about 'way-ness' on this street. Get out of my lane, you capitalist, sexist, 'way-ist' pig! (And don't call me Shirley.)”

What I thought: “Crap. That driver looks pretty confident. Maybe I am going the wrong way. Maybe I should try to get over.”

What I actually said: “Ohshitohshitohshitohshit.”

What I could plainly read on the face of the driver of the car beside me in the right lane after I pulled as close to the center line as I could and they honked at me: “What the X@! do you think you're doing? Oh, hey, look at that! You are about to have a head-on collision with someone who is going the wrong way on this one-way street. Sucks to be you.”

What I thought when I turned my attention back to the oncoming car: “Oh crap! They aren't pulling into that driveway!”

What I said: “Ohshitohshitohshitohshit.”

What I could plainly read on the face of the driver of the next car to zoom past me in the right lane: “Hey, look at that! You're about to have a head-on collision with someone going the wrong way on this one-way street. Sucks to be you. But I'm not going to let you merge in front of me because I have an old clunker of a car and you would be doing me a favor if you would crash into me.”

Me: “Ohshitohshitohshitohshit.”

Driver of the third car in the right lane: “Hey! Look at that. Someone is going the wrong way on this one-way street and they are about to run head-on into this car which has come to a complete stop and is trying desperately to merge into my lane. Sucks to be them. But it would suck even more if they ran into my nice, new, shiny car, or if debris from their head-on collision were to dent my nice, new, shiny car, so I suppose I will let them merge in front of me. But I will scowl at them menacingly, so they will realize how put out I am by them driving down a one-way street the right way and their narrow-minded insistence that everyone pay attention to and follow road signs.”

Me, as I pull into the right lane seconds before the car going down the one-way street the wrong way hit me head-on: “Thankyouthankyouthankyou.”

Driver of the car going down the one-way street the wrong way, who still has not pulled over or slowed down, as they pass me: “Idiot. I scorn you and your weak, lane-changing, bourgeoisie avoidance of a head-on collision. Question road-sign authority! Viva la Revolution!”

My take away from the whole situation? Fake it till you make it. Or until you make someone else get out of your way.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Assault by Battery

I am not a morning person.

I've known this for a long time. And yet, after getting up at 4:30 a.m. to make the 5:30 a.m. workout, three times a week, for nearly a year (more than a year?), I thought maybe I had figured out how to compensate for my lack of morning alertness.

I thought wrong.

I know that I need that full hour of preparation in order to have a cup of coffee – caffeine being key to my ability to function properly in the morning – before attempting to dress myself (full set of clothing always selected the night before) and driving to the gym. I just hadn't realized how tenuous my grip on early-morning cognition was until last week.

Things were going along according to schedule until I knocked the teeny-tiny travel alarm clock off the teeny-tiny medicine cabinet shelf. I think the fact that I was able to hit such a small target in such an out of the way location with my early morning flailings says a lot about why I need to start waking up an hour before my workout.

And, I should probably mention, that teeny-tiny clock has sat on that teeny-tiny shelf for lo, these many years, trying in vain to keep me on time in the morning, without ever being bumped, let alone knocked off the teeny-tiny shelf. And that, for the past month or so I have noticed that not only was it off by an hour (from the last day light savings time switch), but by an additional 20 minutes, too. All of which means the teeny-tiny clock served more as a reminder that time is continually passing, and less as a notification of the actual time.

Regardless of the relativity of time, I watched in open-mouthed surprise (the medicine cabinet has a mirror in addition to teeny-tiny shelves) as the teeny-tiny clock fell (or jumped, in a desperate bid for freedom) off the teeny-tiny shelf and bounced in the sink, dislodging the teeny-tiny cover to the battery, which set the teeny-tiny A-sized battery loose (in its own desperate bid for freedom). The battery's freedom was short lived – or poorly executed – as it slipped down the gaping maw of the sink drain.


Not having any idea how to rescue the teeny-tiny battery, and being more than a little miffed that it would choose that particular moment to bolt, and knowing that the sink would not be used again until after I returned from my workout, I did the only thing my sleep-lacking brain could think of – I turned off the light and went to the gym.

As soon as I pulled out of the driveway, however, I started to imagine that teeny-tiny battery making its way through the drain pipe, through the sewer system, and out into some creek, where it would be eaten by a teeny-tiny fish, who would die a horrible death and then be dissected by a humorless EPA official who would find the teeny-tiny battery and somehow trace it back to me and immediately send a SWAT team to apprehend me at the gym.

I may not be very physically coordinated in the morning, but my imagination functions just fine.

So it was that I found myself planning an elaborate, Rube Goldberg-esque, system for retrieving the teeny-tiny battery instead of paying attention to the workout instructions (not a totally new situation), and managed to mess up two of the stretches. Stretches, mind you. Stretches which are important, but not, typically that mentally demanding.

I returned home and gathered supplies – needle nosed pliers, a drinking straw, a slender wire, and a piece of gum – for my MacGyver inspired battery-retrieval plan, only to discover that I couldn't even see, much less reach the battery with whatever it was I had in mind.

So it was that the husband found me searching for a monkey wrench to dismantle the drain pipe. I had hoped to handle this situation without his knowledge because he was preparing to leave for a week-long, work-related trip, and he had more than enough on his to-do list already. The husband – who is a morning person – calmly told me I probably would not need a monkey wrench, but reminded me to place a bucket under the pipe before proceeding.

And so it was I left him in the tool room, pondering the wisdom of leaving me to care for the teen-age son and the cat for an entire week.

Such is the miracle of modern, plastic drain pipes that the s-curve was quickly disassembled without any tools, the teeny-tiny battery was rescued and properly disposed of, the lives of countless innocent fishes were saved, and the SWAT team intervention was averted.

And the teeny-tiny alarm clock on the teeny-tiny shelf received a new battery and has been set to the actual time. Or something close to it.

But I'm keeping the wire and gum nearby, just in case.