I got my wish. Greyness and clouds have blanketed the skies of Paradise the last couple of days, and although we’ll never begin to imagine the coldness much of the country is experiencing right now, 56 degrees at mid day is chilly.
After a three day weekend, the teens were slow to start this morning during my carpool duty. It was especially quiet: no shuffling through papers in last minute preparation for a test, or talk of a recent session on XBox. Totally silent. Regardless, they’re great kids, always responding to my “Good Morning” with their own greeting, and an immediate “Thank you” as we arrive at the curb where I let them off. Even in their subdued state today, they muttered thanks and slowly walked onto campus. As I pulled away from the curb, I glanced at their downcast faces nearly lost inside the hoods of their sweatshirts, and remembered how much I used to not like Tuesdays.
On these early days, I have time to detour for coffee before heading for work, but try not to make it a habit. I see no reason to spend three or four dollars for something I’ve already had a portion of at home before leaving, and can get free at work if I choose. If it was routine, well, then it would be a routine and not something to look forward to. Today, I did stop, though. It’s easy to tell the Pannekin was once an old house, with hardwood floors that creak as I wait my turn, and a fire that warms the room. The man and woman behind the counter are cheerful without fail, smiling, attentive. I respond to their “Good Morning” with my own, avoiding even a glance at the fresh cinnamon rolls, pastries, and slices of pie. Last Thursday, I couldn’t resist a raspberry scone, and decided that although it was quite tasty, there was no way I could get away with this business of coffee and a sweet. Oh well.
My extra large cappuccino with an extra shot can help make my brief and rarely trying drive to work even more enjoyable. I listen to the incessant doom and gloom NPR eloquently rolls out each morning, objectively observe the drivers around me darting in and around one another in an attempt to get just one more car length ahead, and take an occasional dark-roasty sip.
But the Toyota Pathfinder that was two millimeters off my bumper became tiresome at best and that ugly dark edginess that seems to have taken up residence inside me over the past couple of days came immediately to the surface. Although the driver changed lanes to speed past me, another car was just ahead. I wondered where he really thought he could go and whether this particular routine was something that he practiced daily. He darted in front of me, causing me to press hard on my brakes and mouth quite a few um…unpleasantries through the windshield aimed at his rearview mirror. Who knew a poor driver could be tagged with so many colorful descriptors.
Staring at the back of his SUV, I remembered the fate of a colleague this past summer who happened to have a similar SUV. While on the phone with her daughter, another vehicle hit her SUV causing it to veer off the freeway, flip repeatedly, and tragically, kill her instantly. The offending driver wasn’t even hurt. They rarely are.
I don’t want to remember dark things like this. I want a remote control that I can aim at obnoxious drivers to vaporize them, causing them to end up in the middle of nowhere, hurrying no place for nothing and wearing a dunce hat.
At least the rest of us would be safe and I could enjoy my coffee and drive in peace while NPR lets me know that the sky is falling.