People on the Highway

My morning commute totals about eight miles round trip.  Take the kids to daycare then head back to the basement office.  It is quick and pretty boring.  That is, until arriving at daycare.  The parking lot of a daycare facility at 7:15 in the morning is a murder pit.  There’s something about parents at that hour.  Perhaps coffees have not kicked in or the droning of small children just shuts off brains.  If you saw Mad Max over the weekend, or even witnessed the 80s version, a daycare parking lot has a similar feel.  The key to survival is to try to time arrival at7:10, before the collective arrives and chaos takes hold.  Failing that, as is always the case, the goal is to move slowly and hope no one else flips into reverse as you vacate the lot.

This morning, after dodging a small child with no parent in sight and swerving to avoid a Fiat of all things, I escaped the lot.  The kids were safely inside the building and well out of ear shot so my mild cursing would not be committed to their memory to ultimately be repeated within that daycare building.  Long story short, the mid-way point of my daily commute really makes or breaks the morning.

Leaving the lot behind me and rejoining the highway, an Mazda CX-9 zipped down the left lane in good shape to pass me.  Then sat next to me.  Just the two of us side by side going 55 and otherwise alone on this stretch of highway.  The driver finally made a move to pass, after I slowed, and pulled in front of me just before a traffic light.  The story’s main character had revealed herself and all was well the morning.

Today’s tale is titled: Water Bottle

A Mazda CX-9, bright and shiny silver paint that would normally glisten in the sun light, but there’s no sun this morning, sits in front of me. The driver is a middle aged lady, the hair on the side of her head cut close with long locks resting on top.  She’s heading east on a cloudy morning, heading into prairie land and cattle ranches.  I suspect she’s heading to one of the factory farms or sugar beet plants where she’s probably an HR rep or labor consultant.  Of course, none of the employees she represents are paid enough to afford the $43,000 fully loaded vehicle, but she tries not to think of that.  The car’s plates expire in February year after year which means she purchased it around Christmas time.  Likely using a hefty Christmas bonus as the down payment.  She tries not to think of the other uses, like plant safety, the bonus could have been spent on.

Right now all she is thinking about is making an afternoon coffee date with a friend from college.  She’s trying to find a way out of it.  She likes her friends to keep themselves in the realm of Facebook, and out of her lunch breaks.  She hates coffee too.

I know this because she is drinking a bottled water.  At 7:22 in the morning. I have trust issues with anyone that opts for water at 7:22 in the morning.  If this were High School, I would suspect the bottle was actually full of vodka.  That makes sense, as sad as that sounds.  Drinking water at 7:22 in the morning instead of coffee for any human being above the age of 15 is, well that’s just far too odd to be ok with.  I consider myself an open minded person, but water in the morning?  Ew.  I will judge that activity and deem the perpetrator someone I do not wish to know.

She’s not a wildly popular person at work either.  Walking that line between corporate drone and ally of the worker has alienated her in the office.  She makes runs out to the slaughter house floors and processing plants owned by the mega-agri-corp she works for and feels like a social pariah.  The field managers answer her questions in short bursts and the workers ignore her until they have a payroll question.  She does not work with payroll questions though.  When they leave her office without resolution, give her that disappointed but not really surprised look, she gets a feeling in her gut that just hurts.

She goes home to her cat and dog most nights.  Her husband travels through the week, but they stopped making nightly calls years ago.  They are solid roommates on weekends though.  At night she orders Chinese take-out; lo-mein and egg rolls on Wednesdays, Happy Family on Fridays as if to convince herself, and pairs it all with a half bottle of Pinot Grigio while catching prime-time TV and reading Harvard Business Review.  She watches the crime shows or medical dramas and wonders why she still does what she does.  She got into employee relations to open a line of communication between labor and management and somewhere along the line, management sucked her in.

She gets to drive an expensive car and drink her water in the morning, but she’s leading a life that is mostly dedicated to cancelling plans and upsetting those she wanted to help.  She zoom-zooms down a highway and sits next to my little Honda in an attempt to be close to anyone.  I would have been happy to be there, but water?

For the reals.


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