Monday, April 27, 2009

For Susan

My best friend Susan complains when I tell fabulous stories about my amazing life in the city because they make her feel like she should leave the Quad Cities (where she is happy) and come live by me. I don't necessarily think that would be a bad thing but, as a favor to her, I'm going to tell an Alexander's Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day kind of city story.

On Friday afternoon, I was driving back into the city from the suburbs and the electrical system in my car started to blink on and off as I drove. Sometimes, the gauges would go dead and the radio would flick out but the car would keep driving. Once, the car died completely. I gave it a few seconds and it started up again. I was about 30 minutes from home and there was nothing to do but turn the AC off, roll the windows down, turn off the radio and grit my teeth to see if I could make it the rest of the way. So, I'm 8 minutes from home and you guessed it.

At 4:43 on a Friday afternoon, on the Grand Avenue bridge where there is no shoulder, in the lane that in second in from the right, I have to explain to Tony in Ontario from the Roadside Assist that Lake Shore Drive is actually the name of the street.

I was the recipient of the entire spectrum of curses. The cursed me: "Asshole!" They cursed my vehicle: "Your car is a piece of shit!" And they made fun of my life: "Sucks to be you!"

One cab driver honestly tried to be helpful and made a motion with both hands as he slowed down on my right, clearly communicating that I should put my hazards on.

Yup. Thought of that. However, when your electrical system dies, so do your hazards.

Ultimately, the police came and sat behind me with his lights on so the cursing stopped. I got a little reading done for school while I waited for the tow truck, which took less than an hour. I've waited up to three hours before for the insurance-certified tow company to get in from the suburbs. The tow truck driver was talkative but not creepy. This was ideal, all in all.

So, today I go to pick up the car and the mechanic cannot figure out what is wrong with it. It all checks out.


So, I take the car home and when I opened my mailbox I discovered that a fat envelope that I sent last week had been returned to me for a second time. The first time it came back to my mailbox, it was stamped for lack of postage, but the post office had not indicated how much postage was still owed. So, I slapped another stamp on top of the message (as instructed) and sent it off again. When it came back this time, both stamps had been canceled but no indication given why it was being returned. I figured I'd nip this thing in the bud and run over to the post office.

I parked the car and put a quarter in the meter and stood next to my car finishing my conversation with my friend. I saw that the woman from the car behind me was having trouble finding a quarter so I gave her one of mine. I never dreamed it would take more than 15 minutes to clear this whole thing up.

But there was only one teller at 5:45 and by the time I got back to the car, the private company to which Mayor Daley has leased the parking meters to had slapped a $50 ticket to my driver's side window with that adhesive that won't come off without a razor blade and some Goo Gone. They didn't even stick it under the window wiper!

So, Susan, here is a very good reason to stay in Geneseo where, as you told me, "The only traffic jam you can get in is during harvest season when two tractors are ahead of you on the highway."

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