Do you ever get those days where it’s all going wrong? You wonder why, and even more, how you got to this point in your life? Ever ask yourself, is this all there is? So do I. Here’s a story about it.
The Drive Home
Pat stood in five inches of snow beside her car. Once the car was unlocked, she tossed in her purse and grabbed the snow brush from the floor of the back seat. Snow was sliding into her pumps. She’d already started the car and turned on the defrosters. By the time she finished brushing off the five inches of snow, the windows would be clear and the car would be warm.
Perfect, she stepped into the pile of snow she’d just brushed off of the rear window and trunk. I might as well be barefoot. It wasn’t supposed to snow today. Damn forecast.
The wet snow was soaking through the leather gloves she had on. Nothing’s gone right today, why should the drive home be any different. And what was with the programmers today. Sheesh, did they think I was going to swallow the excuse their computer has been down all week so they couldn’t get their assigned tasks done? All they had to do was call the trouble desk. She brushed the snow off of the side windows so hard it flew in a spray, sparkling in the parking lot lights, ten feet.
And the Financial Officer, my God, it’s a computer development company, yes, I need more servers. He needs to let go of a nickel now and then. She finished cleaning off the windshield and threw the brush back into the back seat. Once in the driver seat, she turned the heater vent onto the floor. Her feet were wet and half frozen.
The parking lot hadn’t been cleared yet so she had to back up carefully and creep slowly out of the parking lot. She breathed a sigh of relief when she reached the road. Thank God the plow has been through.
It was an hour after the standard 5pm quitting time but the snow had delayed everyone in the city. Roads were slushy and the snow was still falling. Getting to work in the morning is going to be a treat. She maneuvered through the traffic lights and to the on ramp of the cross-town highway.
The four lane highway was bumper to bumper, delayed motorists anxious to get home. At the toll booth of the New York State Thruway, only a few lanes were open causing cars to criss-cross in front of each other to find an open booth. Pat saw several cars sliding uncontrollably, miraculously missing other autos as they all jockeyed for the booths that seemed to be moving the fastest.
She slowly moved through the chaos until she was on the Thruway. The three lanes were all clear, at least here, close to the city. Plows must have started clearing as soon as it started snowing. Pat could relax a little, driving in the middle lane, so the people with no sense could race along the fast lane but out of the way of the people getting off on these near exits.
She didn’t turn on the radio. She wanted quiet, time to decompress. It was an hour and a half drive home on a good day, so she had time to try and get over the frustration, anger and tension of the day.
After most of the motorists had left the highway she could relax a little more. She cranked the heat up another notch, her feet were still cold. Taking a big breath, she let it out slowly. The Chief of Operations had chewed out her boss that afternoon in a meeting with her, because the project was behind schedule. She shook her head. Why is it always the project manager’s fault the programmers didn’t do their jobs? Seriously, I told them the schedule was too compressed at the start of the project. And the building manager, what’s his problem? Why snipe at me in a meeting when I asked how long it would take to install the electrical for that room? That’s his job!
She glanced at the clock on the dash. Six thirty, I’m still fifty minutes from home in this weather. Why do I bother? I could just keep driving. Just keep going, all the way to Buffalo, across Ohio, all the way to California. I’ll bet it’s not snowing in San Diego. I wouldn’t have to put up with the building manager, the programmers, the crazy clients. I could sell the car and live in a camper on a beach somewhere, tending bar for a living. I did it in college, I could do it now.
She glanced at the road sign for the next exit. Two exits to go. I could just speed on by. I could use the credit card to get some cash, sell the car, buy a bus ticket. No one would know where I went. Nobody yelling at me. No responsibilities. No 4-H club meetings to plan, no more worry about the dog’s arthritis, just me; relaxing on a beach. No more snow shoveling. No more refereeing arguments between my brothers.
The road sign for the last exit before hers went by. I wonder if I could change my name? How hard can that be? Do you need a new Social Security number? How do people disappear anyway? They make it look so easy on TV. Bill would worry, I’d have to give him a call, just to let him know I was OK. It’d be unkind to take off and not at least let him know I was OK.
Pat passed the road sign warning that her exit was in two miles. She sighed. He’s making me spaghetti for supper. The other women are envious, a husband that makes dinner every night. She flipped on the turn signal and pulled onto the off ramp. Spaghetti’s my favorite, that’ll be good, I’m starving.
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