Thursday, May 15, 2008

It was the best of times, It was the worst of times

Yesterday seemed like it was going to be the perfect day. I didn't have a full day at work, which is always nice, since I was attending a luncheon at Smith College and was going to head out after it was over. This is significant since not only does that mean I got to leave work early but the Red Sox were playing an afternoon game at 3pm so I would be able to cruise in from an easy day at the office, make myself a drink and watch the game. To make things even better the weather was absolutely gorgeous so it was great to be outside touring a college campus and not stuck inside the office. One would think that this would be a near perfect day, as I mistakenly did.

Everything was going according to plan as I met my co-worker Tristan at the office and hopped into his car for the drive up to Smith. As we always do, we had a great conversation about sports on the way up there and arrived a few minutes early. This event was sponsored by Smith to serve as a networking function to promote the college to area high school staff in an effort to increase local enrollment, especially among minority students. Tristan and I were in it more for the tour and the food.

The tour was great as we had a very knowledgeable tour guide who showed us all the relevant parts of campus and constantly highlighted the things that made Smith unique (other than being a women's college that is). Their campus is beautiful and were I a female high school student I would seriously consider going there, even given the single-gender nature of the University.

The luncheon was alright, but much more formal then I had anticipated. The school's President was there, as were numerous other staff members and students who were going to speak about the school during lunch. At this point I strongly regretted not showering that morning. The food also left something to be desired, as I was expecting more dining hall/buffet fare which is much more in line with my tastes then what we were given. The meal started off with some strange salad concoction containing perhaps 5-6 spinach leaves, mandarin oranges and potentially some radish bits covered in a very sweet dressing. Not being a fan of oranges, this was not a very appetizing option. I washed this down with a full glass of water and a dinner roll.

The main course was grilled chicken topped with onions and chives, sweet potatoes and asparagus. I dislike sweet potatoes strongly, and so I avoided eating those. I scraped the offending vegetable-like paste off my chicken and ate that quickly (chased with some sparkling pomegranate juice) and then sucked it up and choked down the asparagus so as not to be rude or look like the vegetable-phobic fast food whore that I am. I should not that both the director of admissions and the President sat at my table. So unlucky.

After some mildly interesting Smith propaganda speeches by those in attendance, we were out of there and things were looking up. The lunch wasn't amazing, but I would last until I got home and could make a sandwhich. If that was the worst part of my day, no big deal.

Ah, but the ride home. After getting back to the parking lot and jumping into my car, I sped off towards I-90 to make my hour long journey home. After traveling a brief 7-8 miles, traffic came to a dead halt. I had no idea what was going on, but I was hoping it was a near accident ahead as incoming highway traffic merged with us and that we would be moving again shortly. 15 minutes and all of 6 inches of progress later I knew this was not the case and I was faced with a decision. Stick it out and wait for this mess of indeterminate length to clear out or force my way two lanes to the right and exit the highway a mere 100 meters ahead. Already sweating more than an overweight convict in an interrogation room, I opted to invent a new way home.

I knew going into this mission that there wasn't another good East-West route anywhere near where I got off and this could end in potential disaster, but it was a risk I was willing to take over sitting in a highway parking lot for several hours. I headed North on some random country road, map pressed to the steering wheel and hoping for the best. After 15 minutes of aimless driving without locating the road or town I was in anywhere on the map I threw it in the floor in disgust and realized what needed to be done. If I was going to get home to see any of this game at all I was going to have to treat this problem like a final exam and going in guns blazing.

For those of you who don't know me, you may think this means that I am well prepared and have a though out plan of attack and have researched my subject. This couldn't be more untrue. I started making random turns and used bizarre rationalizations like "there is no way A-OK gas can be open with prices of 3.17 a gallon. Therefore, if they have a lack a business and had to close, nobody drives that way. Nobody goes to Western Mass. so I better got the opposite way." Also I made several right turns because I am right-handed and awesome, so right has to be correct; I also loosely correlated moving right as heading East.

Finally I stumbled blindly upon Rt. 9 East, which runs right past my house, so I knew I was all set. As I drove through podunk town after ramshackle shithole, I was feeling better about seeing the last 6 innings of the game. I had only gone 35 minutes out of the way, burned a bunch of extra gas and sweat all the way through both my shirts and the entire driver's seat. No big deal, I needed to lose 5 pounds anyway. This day could be salvaged from the brink, I thought to myself.

No sooner had I turned from marginally suicidal, sweaty kid to hopefully optimistic, sweaty kid when I passed an elderly gentleman biking the other direction. He was in the bike lane and I was squarely in the road where I belonged. I made eye contact with him and waved as my mood has drastically improved. Obviously this geriatric ass-wipe was nearing death, hates anything and everyone spawned after 1975 or mistook me for a drowned rat driving a motor vehicle because he decided that I was dangerously encroaching on his biking space. Granted, the bike lane was a good 6 feet wide and could have easily fit a small motor vehicle, but that isn't the point. He stared me down, flipped me off and then loogied on my windshield. That's right, the old bastard spat his disease ridden phlegm on my windshield. That was pretty much the unraveling point of my journey. I was furious with this random guy on a bike and wanted to run him off the road. He had AT LEAST 8 feet of clearance from my car, I wasn't going to hit him. What the hell was his problem!

From that point forward, I hit every traffic light, got behind every person who felt the need to drive 10 mph under the limit and lost my radio signal of the game. I was completely and utterly owned by the old biking man and his snot (which took a long time to wipe off the windshield I might add). To cap it off, my transmission started acting up as I neared home and I was out of gas. I made a stiff drink and watched the rest of the Red Sox game coming in right after the amazing grab/high-five combo by Manny and right before the Craig Hansen suckfest in the 7th inning. Naturally.

I hope there was a giant sinkhole that opened up on I-90 East yesterday and made the highway impassable for 6 hours and backed up traffic to Albany otherwise I am just going to be bitter about the whole thing. Amazing how some old dude and his deteriorating vision and social skills could totally ruin what started out as such a great day.

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