Editor’s note: Spending too much time out on the road can make a person think far too much. Sometimes that spills out on paper. You’ve been warned.
Traveling really is the worst.
There’s the cost of it, first of all. Food and gasoline and hotel accommodations and more food and more gasoline. By the time you actually reach your destination, you’re fat and exhausted and broke.
And there’s the time element. Oh, so much time. Especially if you decided to take a creative “alternate” route to avoid the wind and rain from a major tropical weather event to reach your destination – except that said creativity wound up taking you through the state of Arkansas, which is entirely under construction and may actually be an empty shell completely void of natural life.
All of that doesn’t even encompass the danger involved. Sure, there’s the weather – even your creative alternate route didn’t manage to miss all the rain, coming down in sheets, or the wind, blowing like … well, a hurricane might.
But the traffic makes it worse. For some reason, 75 miles per hour isn’t fast enough for some people, not even in the midst of a tropical storm on a crowded interstate. These are drivers who make you think awful things – dark things, in which you contemplate what it would be like to possess machine guns attached to your fenders like in a James Bond movie.
Then a tire goes flat.
Actually, “goes flat” doesn’t really describe it adequately. “Shreds” is a more accurate description. At 80 miles per hour. In a part of East Texas so rural, you can’t even find a mile marker sign to tell the dispatch operator where you’re stranded.
Now you’ve got to search deep within your memory bank and remember where the tire tools are all located … and how to correctly use them. And hope to God your spare will do the job.
If it doesn’t? You need help. Lots of it.
When help arrives, it doesn’t show up in the form of a gilded carriage or even a state trooper car – just a simple country family with a full toolbox and time to spare. “Y’all OK?”
You might feel as though you’re reenacting the plot of a modern horror flick when they invite you back to their place — a single-wide roughly a half-mile from the highway but secluded enough that no one can hear you scream — for “a little extra air.” But then it turns out they’re perfectly nice folks, and they pump up the tire and send you on your way without even asking your name.
You might have a tough time explaining the whole ordeal to the hotel people when you finally make it to your destination, though.
“Wow,” you’ll say. “We better win this sodding football game.”
(And we did. Traveling is really the best, isn’t it?)