Road work. The phrase alone boils a driver’s blood. Two lanes become one in a marriage of pure evil. Turn lanes become a cone blocked no-man’s land. Today I think I saw an actual tumbleweed bounce through the turn lane I regularly use to get the kids to day care. Road work is the worst. Incredibly necessary, the road in question was being held together by tar patches and the collective hope no sink holes occur, but still inconvenient.
As the usual road was blocked off, today was detour day. It showed me a whole new part of of the morning commute. It was weird.
Today’s tale: The Caricature
Venturing off the beaten path that is Highway 34 was unplanned. Road work and detours brought us through a little track of suburbia. School zones, bus stops, 30 mile an hour streets; all providing good reminders of just how much I miss the highway. The flow of traffic here is all speed up, get to just within the speed limit and then slow for a traffic light.
Just as I am resigning myself to my new fate of poorer gas mileage than usual, something wonderful occurs. It was as if a unicorn had galloped in front of my car. That’s regrettable wording. A beat up late 90s Kia pulls ahead of me. I have no idea what model it is, and it really does not matter. The paint is stripped down to primer. The bumper, the bit that is there anyway, is full of rust and holes. To make this the funniest sad car on the road, the finishing touch is the back license plate that is dangling by one remaining bolt.
There are two people in the car, but the only way I know this is due to the cigarette smoke pouring out of the driver side window. I hope it was cigarette smoke at least. The back window is nearly blotted out by Grateful Dead bear decals. So many colorful dancing bears just staring back, peering into the soul of the unfortunate driver stuck in their gaze. I’m not a fan of the Dead Head bears and those creepy, creepy eyes.
The driver seems to know the car is a moving violation and is seriously one of the best drivers I have encountered in along time. Speed limits are obeyed, blinkers used, the whole deal. The local community college is coming up on us and the driver flips on the turn signal well ahead of time to get into the turn lane that will take the two to their classes.
It all comes together. The billowing smoke, the bears, the beat up old Kia; these are two kids on their way to being engineers.
Last Wednesday they created a laundry drying system for their apartment from three wire hangers, some gorilla glue and a Wiffle ball bat. On Saturday they teamed up at a party to make a one of a kind beer delivery system involving a garden hose, duct tape and a Wiffle ball bat. Just yesterday they worked up a automated bird feeder from a lampshade, a handful of number two pencils and a Wiffle ball bat. They may not know much, but they know how to adapt a yellow bat into just about anything.
They do not remember most of these events, but they smile every morning something new shows up in their front room. The investigate the new toys, pushing aside the abundant apple cores that keep piling up in their home, reverse engineer them and then hit the books.
The passenger has a test today. A text book is sprawled over his lap as he gets in some last minute studying. The driver is quizzing him on ratios and formulas before they park. First stop is the coffee bar the college has set up in the budget student lounge, then it is off to Statistics for Engineering 205 mid-term. It’ll be a tough test, but as soon as it all over the two will meet up and take the beat up old Kia home for some much needed X-Box button mashing video gaming.
I keep driving, still have some road to cover before my trip is done and all I can think is that I really, really hope this story is not fiction.
Thanks for reading!
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