Tuesday, April 26, 2011

The Way People Act

Boy, did I have a day and a half today.

I had double Granny and Paw Duty. I was to have Granny in Mt Airy, NC, by 11:30 for her dermatologist's appointment, then get them both back on the road, lunched, home, and get Paw to his surgeon's appointment.

(I've been away so long I haven't even had a chance to tell you that Paw had to have a squamous skin cancer removed from his hand last week. All went well until he started getting some infection, and he started being in constant pain, and his hand swelled up like a balloon at the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. He needed desperately for the surgeon to see it today.)

It didn't seem like a biggie. I mean, we're normally home from Granny Appointments at about 2:30, and Paw only needed to be at his Paw Appointment by 4:30.

So we headed out, and about 15 minutes into the trip I got what I most didn't want. Rain. It rained on us on and off all the way there, but it wasn't horrid rain, and so I thought, "Hey, I can deal with this."

Then when we got to Fancy Gap Mountain around the VA/NC border, we got signs announcing a fog advisory. And well, my Lord.

The fog was so thick it was just nigh-on impossible to see. And I considered myself very lucky to be behind a car with its lights on so I could follow tail lights, and most of that area of 65 mph road became about 40 mph. But I was fine with it. I could slowly follow a car and (as long as he didn't run off the road) get where I was going.

But here is the first way people act.

There were passenger cars and huge 18-wheelers passing us at over 65 mph. Could they see through a fog the rest of us couldn't? I have no idea. Were they in some sort of emergency where time was of the essence? No idea there either. All I know is that they couldn't be content with keeping a safe speed and distance, and Paw and I talked a bit about "people like that who cause the 20-car fog pile-ups."

And so I followed my new car friend (thanks!) down the mountain and the fog cleared, and we still got to Granny's appointment over a half-hour early. They took her right in. The doctor was in fine form today and joked a lot with her while she took her first shot of the new medicine she's worried about, the kind of "last ditch" effort to combat her psoriasis. (Sometimes this Dr can be quite the smartass, and at other times, his joking is actually quite comforting. Today he kept telling Granny her shot was with a 12-inch long thick needle with a jagged edge. It took her a minute before she started laughing.)

And so we were on the road back home at 11:40. And that was good! In fact, it was so good I told the folks I was going to take a little detour. We have always wondered if there is actually a "town" of Mt Airy. See, Mt Airy associates itself with the Andy Griffith Show's Mayberry, even though when the show aired, we viewers always kind of associated Mt Airy with Mt Pilot. "I won't take more than 10 minutes out of your day," I promised, and headed straight through our red light instead of making our normal left.

And this is another way people act.

There was a little blue pickup behind us at the red light. And when that light turned green, I proceeded through it very slowly, because there was a fellow trying to cross the street. Well, I like to give pedestrians the right of way, so I crept along until he got to the other side. He gave a cheery wave, and I reached the next intersection and turned right.

I started up a little 25 mph double-lined road, ambling along, hoping to find something. And imagine my surprise when the truck behind me passed me up on that double line. I looked over, a bit shocked, and found him looking at me and yelling. "Hey, it's 25 and a double line!" I said back, as if he could hear me. And I really wanted to add, "You prick!" but since G and P were in the car I left it at that.

And we did find the main street of Mt Airy, Mayberry, Mt Pilot, whatever, and it was really charming. My favorite part of it was at one spot they had parallel parked on the street a police cruiser that looked just like the one Andy and Barney drove. We made a circle around, and got back on our regular route in about 8 minutes flat. And back home!

We headed up ol' I-77, and when we got to Fancy Gap Mt again, there was a different sign. I liked this one better - it wasn't so formal. It said, "Fog! Fog! Fog! Caution! Caution! Caution!" I started looking for friendly tail lights.

As it turned out, it didn't matter.

Around Mile Marker Two, we came to a complete halt. Complete. This wasn't any construction thing, this was a wreck, we knew it. We sat still for about 10 minutes, then realized we were stuck and that was it. We turned the car off.

The punchline? We were stuck in that standstill for an hour and five minutes.

However, here is another way people act.

People got out of their cars. They walked forward a little. They talked to other drivers. Both the car in front of ours (the most adorable Westie) and the one behind ours (a little yappie in a pink dress) held dogs. People played with the dogs. People tweeked the cheeks of babies their parents had gotten out to keep them moving.

A foreign-born couple walked up past us all, and were gone for a long time. When they finally came back, Paw rolled down a window and asked if they knew the situation. The girl, in a burka, said that apparently there was a nine-car pile up five miles ahead. Involving tractor trailers, cars, and a horse trailer. They were trying to clear it, she said. Then she said, she said to us, "Hopefully it will be cleared soon. I hope you have a great trip and a great day."

About halfway through the stoppage, I just decided to nap. My window was down because there was a good breeze blowing, and I was leaning against my window with my eyes closed.

I heard something in my ear, then roused and screamed.

The woman who was at my window was mortified. She apologized profusely, and was so worried that I was upset because she'd come by. The reason she came by? She had some homemade Italian Ham Pie, and she was wondering if anyone wanted some of it.

Well, I thought that was the sweetest thing ever, so I said, sure, and I took a piece big enough to share with me, Granny, and Paw. She went on up the road offering it to all the cars in front of us.

The pie was fabulous, and when she came back down empty-handed, I told her it was great, and thanked her for her kindness. And she apologized again for scaring me.

We all became a little community of stuck people. We all became friends for that hour or so.

And finally, traffic started to move, but we realized we were getting late at this point.

When we reached the normal exit where we have lunch, I asked the folks what they wanted to do. We were over an hour behind, but could probably still make our time for Paw if we kept it quick. Paw said, loudly and emphatically, "Well, I want to have a good lunch!" and so we hit that exit.

We had to decide between the normal local place we go to or Shoney's. We figured Shoney's might be quicker, so went there. Dad was hankering for a patty melt and I was hankering for their old staple, the Shoney Burger. When we got there, neither were on the menu anymore.

And here is another way people act.

Our waitress, who was way overworked, could have just said, "Sorry, we don't have those anymore." But she didn't. She was very sympathetic, saying that she knew people still wanted them and she liked them both too, and she was so sorry that she couldn't offer them anymore.

And I have to tell you, I admired that because it reminded me of me. There are certain concrete facts of TheCompanyIWorkFor that I cannot change, but I always try to look at the other person's point of view. I'm glad Paw gave her a good tip.

After dinner, I have to admit we were getting late. I got G and P in the car and announced, "OK. We're getting out of this lot and hauling ass till we get Paw to his appointment." We got back on ol' I-77. We drove for about two miles. We came to a standstill again.

"Oh, crap," we said simultaneously, but this wasn't like the last stoppage. This one was much worse. It was a stop, drive at 1 mph for 6 feet, stop, drive at 2 mph for 10 feet, let all of the friggin' lane changers get in front of you....

I have to tell you, my friends, I was getting hinky. It was stop and go traffic. There was no homemade Italian pie. There were no nice people wishing us a great day.

And then....

I realized there is another way people act. Namely, me.

I realized that about 8 miles ahead was a bridge that drives me crazy. (You know, bridges are my fear. I blogged about it. Being stuck on a bridge on Christmas Eve about five years ago and totally losing it.)

Even thinking about being stuck on this particular bridge, so high with such a big drop, in inching traffic surrounded by 18-wheelers and logging trucks, started the tears. I told the folks so they would know why I was freaking out.

My dad, dear old loving Paw, was having none of it. He basically yelled at me. "That bridge crosses the New River. If we want to get home, you have to cross it."

With the stop and go traffic, we were now completely late for his appointment. And I had about 20 minutes or so to contemplate the bridge. I cried a little, I did a little of "oh please oh please oh please," and I kept driving at 2 mph.

Mom was trying to be cheery, Paw was getting huffy. He wanted to get to his appointment. Which I understood.

Then the most amazing thing happened, which has nothing at all to do with the way people act.

Just as I was getting in a psychotic state, about 100 yards from the bridge - the traffic just opened up!

Both lanes started moving, and I crossed that bridge at about 40 mph and got to the other side, and I felt like a complete fool. And I was never so happy to feel like one.

We made our 90-minute trip from Mt Airy in 4 hours, but still got home in time to get Paw to his appointment, and with enough time for me to zip by the house to get Milo a pee. (Bless his heart. He needs a great day.)

And after a wait for Paw for 45 minutes at his doctor's, in jeans I really shouldn't have worn for the trip (I told Granny I then felt like I was in a cast), we got him taken care of and I got him back home.

The moral of this story? Well, all I can take from it is that there are crappy people and good people everywhere. But I've met the good people, and I love them.


Sunday, April 17, 2011

Picture Sunday!

Hello, blogees! Hello, end of weekenders! Hello, all!

It's been forever! How are you all?

Let's try a little Picture Sunday!

Well, how the hell are you? I listened to the oddest opera in the world, and then -- well, silence. I promise, it wasn't the opera that silenced me, it was just life and laziness.

But after many completely benign weekends, I had a weekend that forced some pictures from the old - old? new! - camera, and so I thought I'd try to make a Picture Sunday.

Well, let's start at the beginning. I'd spent many days this past week wondering what in the hell I was going to do this weekend. Mainly because my boys, the Hackensaw Boys, were at my favorite venue, 123 Pleasant Street in Morgantown, WV, this weekend. I mean, how could I miss that?

Well, as it turned out, I could. The Dear Nephew couldn't make it, and my cousin Jacob couldn't make it, and as odd as it may seem, for some reason that made me realize I myself couldn't make it. I felt I could drive the five hours with someone, or could even drive the time if I was meeting up with someone, but driving by myself and going to the show by myself? Well, I guess times have changed and I have gotten old. I just couldn't fathom it. I said "no."

And I would have been more depressed than usual, but I had a back-up. Turns out that same Saturday night my second favorite live band, Southern Culture on the Skids, were in R'noke that same night! Mr M said he'd go with me, as did the cousin Jacob! I got tickets for the three of us, and we all made the trip.

Now, I have to tell you, though SCOTS are based out of North Carolina, Mary(bassist) and Dave (drummer) are actually based out of R'noke. So it was a bit of a homecoming for them, so the show was something of a festival.

The show was held at the Jeff Center, a very nicely remodeled theatre. We got there early, and got second row seats. However - we were told that the little wooden section in front of the seats was going to be reserved for dancers, so if we wanted to sit in our good seats, we'd be looking at peoples' butts.

And though I loved those seats, after the opening band I figured, "Hey, I don't want to look at local peoples' asses," and headed to the little dancing area. Luckily, cousin Jacob followed suit. (Mr M did not.) And after a wait but right on time, Southern Culture took the stage.

And they played their hearts out - it was a great show. I think I've mentioned it here before, but bassist Mary Huff (an R'noke native) is my heroine. She is cool beyond belief. She did all her greatest solo numbers. In blue wig and sunglasses to match!

But the whole band tore it up all night.

When it was all over, we headed back to the car. I thought it was just me, but found out soon enough it was me and cousin Jacob - there comes a time when you are just too old to dance for 2 1/2 hours non-stop. (Had I gone to the Hackensaws last night, I fear I would have been taken out of the venue on a stretcher!)

But we made it home. After an hour or so of hilarious conversations between Jacob, Mr M, and me that had us laughing till breathing was hard to do. I tell you, when you make each other laugh till you can't breathe anymore, that is a gift.

Then I woke up this morning.

I woke up this morning barely able to move from all the dancing the night before. But I drug myself up, got Milo out for a pee, got to Mr M's kitchen to make some coffee, and set about the business of waking up and getting ready to get back home today.

Then! Mr M got up.

As I was getting ready to go home, Mr M started telling me how I should take Milo by the dog park on my way back home. I wasn't so keen. I mean, the day before, the day of the concert, it rained so hard we couldn't even see a foot past our window. I had no idea what the dog park might look like today.

Well, Mr M was having none of that. "Who cares if there's mud? Who cares if it's dirty? If you're not prepared to have Milo get dirty, you have no right to have a dog!" he said.

Well, I was dubious, but you know, Milo did need a run, and it was sunny and fairly warm today, and so, oh, fuck it, I thought I'd take him to the dog park.

And Milo had a ball! There weren't a huge amount of dogs, but he found a Fox Terrier and a Yorkie he loved playing with, and there were even bigger dogs that all played with him, and all the dogs were having a great time.

For about 20 minutes. Then for some reason, Milo ran up a little mound by a tree, then tumbled, side-over-side, right - *plop* - into a mudhole. His entire right side was covered in wet mud.

His tumble was magnificent, and my reaction was too. I screamed. And - the entire dog park crowd erupted in cheers and applause!

Well, upon seeing the reaction, Milo - Mr Entertainment - went right back up the hill, tumbled down again, and landed with his entire left side in the same mudhole!

Thank God I keep a fitted sheet in my car. I had to put it over the passenger's seat to get Milo home.

When we got home, I loaded all my own luggage from the weekend into the house, then got him, led him into the house and to the bathroom, stripped down, stripped him of harness, leash, and collar, then we both got in the shower, where I wrangled with him for 20 minutes trying to get him clean.

Then I had to step back into my clothes and go to Walmart and walk every inch of it shopping.

It's one of those stories I said might be fun a year after it happens. But you know what? It's only a few hours out, and I'm already giggling.

I guess that's the Power of Milo.

Happy week.