I had me a very exciting adventure last night.
I’d gotten a late departure from work because of a project I was working on involving mailing letters to all the parents on my caseload. The letters wound up not being in the same order as the mailing labels, I ran out of pre-glued envelopes and wound up doing a lot of licking…it wasn’t pretty. So I got out of work a little after 6, and managed not to find myself locked in again.
As it happened, Wife and Wee One were running late, as well. Wee One had a mandatory meeting for students and parents at her school, so they were dealing with that. We’ve not been eating well for a few nights in a row, so I figured that, even if it was late, a decent dinner would be a nice change of pace. So on the way home I stopped in at the Giant on Belair Road, just outside the Beltway. Did a little shopping, waited almost patiently for the old guy in the self-checkout to figure out what the hell he was doing, and headed out.
The old guy, as it turns out, was the beginning of my downfall.
While I’m standing there waiting for him to figure out the relationship between the self-checkout scanner and the credit card reader, I busied myself with reading the tabloid headlines and such. For those not in the know, Robin Williams is dead and Joan Lunden is bald nowadays. And, of course, opposite the scandal sheets is the candy rack. It being late, and because I hadn’t eaten all day, I was a little puckish, but I didn’t really want to eat anything that filled me up, or was too cloying. And that’s why I opted for a package of Twizzlers.
In the car and munching on a Twizzler, I made the right out of the parking lot and onto Belair Road. Now, in that area, the right lane turns almost immediately into the off-ramp for the Outer Loop of the Beltway, therefore someone who wants to continue on Belair Road needs to get out of the lane pretty quickly. Even at 7PM, this isn’t always easy. I’m cruising slowly with my left turn signal on, trying to get over. The problem was, most of the people in that left lane, while interested in getting into my lane, were insisting on doing it by passing me first and then jumping over. And the last guy in that line just plain cut me off to get into the exit lane. But this left me free to move left.
And that’s when it happened. I started to choke on the Twizzler.
Frankly, I’m not even sure what happened in the next few seconds. My vision blurred, my head started swimming, I must have been shaking pretty hard because my glasses fell off (maybe that was the blurred vision). Somehow the offending bit of strawberry licorice dislodged itself and everything started to clear again.
It’s a scary thing to return to full consciousness and realize that you’re at the wheel of a moving vehicle. No kidding, that car essentially had no driver for several seconds. I was still a little disoriented, though, but I was dimly aware of a weird grinding sound. I realized that the car had drifted to the left and was now running along the concrete divider between the north and south lanes. I still couldn’t see clearly (I hadn’t yet realized my glasses had flown off), but I adjusted the car to the right and, since I was approaching a left turn lane, got into it and onto the side street. The sound coming from that left front wheel was not encouraging.
It turns out that I was right to be discouraged; the car hadn’t merely drifted over to the left; it had gone over pretty hard and really whacked that divider. The front wheel was just plain ruined. This isn’t a “fix the wheel” thing, it’s more like “you need to find a guy who will sell you another rim.” The plastic cowling just behind the wheel was pretty well abraded all the way through. Other than that, the car—and I—were miraculously okay.
Getting my wheel fixed is pretty much my main focus for the next couple of days. Given that I work in an office in a school, that gives me a little more flexibility to find a place, give them a call, get some ballpark estimates, and so forth. However, the next day (today) was Jury Duty Day for me. And, since I like to use my laptop, that means I’m hanging out in the Quiet Room, where the tables are located. The bad news is that the Quiet Room is also a little deeper into the courthouse than the regular, generally overcrowded, spaces are, so there’s no signal for my mobile hotspot, nor for my phone so that I could use THAT as a hotspot. (The courthouse here used to have pay-as-you-go internet access; I don’t see a signal for that today.)
So as I write this I’m sitting in the Quiet Jury Room, typing into Microsoft Word and waiting for the lunch break to be called so I can go get me some connectivity.
UPDATE: I'm on the lunch break. Guess who's going to hear a trial in less than an hour?