• Commuter Van Chronicles: Blame it on the Rain


    I know this is ridiculous, but I hate when I have to turn my windshield wipers on High.  There are ten thousand things to worry about on the road other than windshield wiper speed, but I hate it anyway.  There’s something about the whooshing back and forth on High that strikes me as manic.  It makes me nervous, like I want to tap my foot and bite my nails.

    Unfortunately, here on the Gulf Coast, that High setting gets a lot of use.  Especially during Hurricane Season when there are daily torrential downpours that leave you blind to everything outside a ten foot radius. Like last Friday morning.

    I crept along I-59 at twenty miles an hour in bumper to bumper rush hour traffic wishing to God the reflectors on the water-slick road were just a little brighter.

    “Oh my God,” I said, gritting my teeth. “I. Can’t. See. The. Road.” I gripped the steering wheel so tight my hands threatened to cramp.

    Paul glanced down at the road out the passenger side window.  “I can just make noises when you cross over the line.” Just in case I didn’t understand what he meant by ‘noises’, he demonstrated with a harsh AAH-AAH-AAH from the back of his throat.

    I shot him a look that said I was less than amused. “Yeah, cause that settles my nerves.”

    “How about beeep-beeep-beeep? Like a big rig?”

    “How about just ‘you’re going over the line, Meghan’?”

    Paul pretended to think about this for a minute. Then he said, “Nah.  I’ll just sing. Like this: LA-LA-LA-LA…”

    I was getting close to my exit, so I tuned Paul out and put my right blinker on.  I checked the mirrors. When I saw they were clear, I moved into the next lane.

    “LA-LA-LA-LA…. Oh. You meant to do that.”

    “Shut up, Paul.” (Actually I’m not sure if I really said this or if I just thought it really loud.)

    Red tail lights flashed in the rain. A black Dodge truck whose size can only be described as ‘ginormous’ edged into my lane from the left then swerved back.  The truck did it again, nearly running into our front left bumper.

    “F— me,” I said, watching the truck warily.

    “Do you talk like that around your kids?”

    I think I really did tell him to shut up that time.

    I have never been so grateful to get to our parking garage.  As I pulled into the space, I heard seat buckles unlatch, and I finally relaxed a little.

    I took my foot off the brake and reached down to grab my lunch.

    Mary was out of her seat and reaching for the van door when she screamed: “We’re moving!”

    Still thinking about the black Dodge truck, I said (rather stupidly), “Huh?”

    I heard a crunching, scraping noise.

    “She hit the barrier!”

    Now Paul was shouting, too. “Put it in park! Put it in park!”

    My heart skipped a beat and I mashed on the brake with one foot.  The van jerked to a stop.  I threw the gear shift into Park and looked over the hood of the van.

    God damn it.

    Mary raved at me from the back. “I was already out of my seat! I could have been seriously injured!  You’re going to be my next safety observation: Ran into barrier and now I have to have neck surgery again.”

    I closed my eyes and sighed.  I should have just stayed in bed.

    Paul climbed out the passenger side and walked around the van to inspect the bumper.  He pointed an accusatory finger at me through the windshield.  “It’s just scratched a little. Lucky for you.  I would have made you fill out the accident report.”

    I felt my face grow warm, then hot, and knew it was a brilliant shade of red.  I got out of the van a little shakily and walked to the elevator bank.

    Paul followed behind me, talking to no one and everyone at the same time.  “I think it’s best if I drive home. So Meghan can take the rest of the day off.”

    I scowled and studied my shoes, looking forward to the next stupid thing I catch Paul doing.

    Stupid rainy hurricane season.

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