We’re now halfway through January, and the joys and frustrations of the holiday season are behind us. Although it’s only been a few weeks, I am beginning to see the humor in some of the more exasperating things that happened.
I hate airports. My first job, as a teenager, was in Hangar 14 of JFK Airport in New York. The traffic was horrendous, and the roads looped around in spirals, with a myriad of signs pointing off in all directions. To this day, airport traffic threatens to give me panic attacks.
|And I need to go...|
One of my daughters was flying into Dulles Airport outside Washington, D.C. for the holidays. Obviously, I had to pick her up.
DC rush hour traffic can be intense. I asked her to try to avoid both morning and afternoon rush hours, if she possibly could. So she scheduled a 6:40 PM arrival. That, of course, meant she did land just as rush hour was ending, but it also meant I had to drive through it to get to the airport. And since I have a fair distance to go, I encountered an additional, smaller, but no less nerve-shattering, rush hour in Frederick, MD.
Once past Frederick, the traffic thinned as I drove west through a rural area. I ended up behind an empty logging truck that drove for 30 miles with the left turn indicator light blinking. Amazing how annoying that can be. The cab had huge windows, with the setting sun shining through, and I had a good view of the driver. He kept leaning so far over to the right that I was afraid he was going to fall and let go of the steering wheel. He also seemed to lack familiarity with the truck’s gears. Every time we had to slow down or stop, he’d send the truck through a series of jerks, and he stalled coming out of a traffic circle. Of course, I was stuck in the circle behind him.
Part of the road down by the airport is toll--probably why they call it the Dulles Toll Road. A fairly outrageous toll. Last time, they charged me ten dollars and change, although I looked it up on the internet and have come to the conclusion that was the wrong amount. But what can you do when the toll taker insists that's what it is?
At least there was a toll taker! This time, the booths were unmanned. I had cash in the cup holder next to me, enough to pay whatever amount they said I owed, but the only choices I had were EZ Pass or credit card.
Unlike many people I know, I do have a credit card. Whether I had it with me was open to question, and I definitely would have to dredge for it. I pulled over on the shoulder and looked frantically through my stuff. I did have one, so I could go through the gate, but I have to wonder how many people are caught with this. And what do you do if you don't have a credit card?
I picked up my daughter. On the way home, we stopped for a nice, relaxing dinner. I tried not to think about getting her back to the airport for the flight home.
Gifts for adult children are often a problem. I gave one of my daughters a new pair of pants. She loved them—a tight stretchy fabric with pockets and a zipper that fit perfectly. Unlike me, she has a figure worthy of a close fit, and she’s gone from home for long days, with college classes and work, so comfort is important.
The first time she wore them, she was on the city bus, going to a full day of classes and then straight to work for five hours. The bus was not crowded, and she sat on one of the bench seats facing the aisle, put her backpack next to her, and stretched her legs out a bit.
She noticed that one of the pants legs was caught up or something—it was a good four inches above the other. Shifting in her seat, she tried to straighten out the pants. When that didn’t work, she stood up and tugged on them.
At that point, she came to the realization that one pants leg actually was four inches shorter than the other one.
As she said, what kind of manufacturer could let that slip past quality control? How could they expect anyone to buy something like that? I pointed out to her that, in fact, some fool had not only bought them, but given them as a gift.
In the frenzy of late November and December, I wasn’t able to keep up with my usual schedule of writing. (Although in the last few months, with doctors’ appointments, family emergencies, etc, I have to ask myself if I actually have a usual schedule of writing anymore.) But I didn’t totally neglect it.
I worked on a quirky short story. It was more theme-oriented than most of my work, based on a dire warning given by older people of a certain socio-economic station to youngsters: "Stay out of the system."
Once you are in the corrections system cycle, even as a juvenile, it's tough to get out, and everything in life is much harder. Recidivism is expected, and in many ways it's almost built into the system. Those sally ports in jails and prisons can turn into revolving doors, where a minor slip-up, or sometimes just circumstances, can lead to a hopeless "life on the installment plan." The story featured the endless downward spiral of one paroled felon who was trying to make a life for himself outside prison. Without much success.
When I read over my final version, I was pleased with it. I thought the entire thing demonstrated the relentless cycle in which many people become trapped. On pins and needles as I always am when I submit a piece, I sent it off
I got a very quick and very kind rejection, with the comment from the editor that they couldn't use the story because it had no closure.
Since that was what I was aiming for, I guess I should chalk one up for achieving my goal. For what good it did.
Do you have frustrations that, in retrospect, you can find amusing?