Thursday, September 18, 2008

Party Snacks

It was a summer's New England day like any other. A violent thunderstorm with possible flooding was an ever present possibility; the humidity and heat were oppressive. The interior of my car offered no respite. The air conditioning had stopped working about five years ago. To make matters worse, I'd needed to drive with the heat on "high" year round lest the engine over heat. My windows were rolled down. It made no dent in heat. I was in a rolling sauna with a hot wind whipping my hair into my eyes. All I wanted to do was get home and take advantage of the central air conditioning, preferably before the heavens opened up and unloaded into my the cabin of my car.

So, it was only to be expected that just five minutes into my journey I would encounter a massive traffic standstill. We weren't slowing to a crawl; we'd stopped. Four lanes of commuter traffic stretched out like a parking lot. You'd have thought an EMP had gone off and we were all awaiting the coming apocalypse. Through my open windows I heard a distant rumble. Was it the idle of an 18-wheeler or approaching thunder? I couldn't quite tell over the blare of the 16 year old speakers installed in the back of my car that were making a fuzzy mess of the local news station.

"Traffic on the 3's" finally shared the useful tidbit that the two right lanes were closed because of an accident about seven exits south of me. A police cruiser and a fire truck whizzed down the breakdown lane to get to scene. I watched a couple brave souls pull their cars into the breakdown lane after them. Dicey, if they couldn't get back in the slow lane before they got to the accident. After that I believe they're "interfering with the scene of an accident".

The half hour of stutter-stopping to go 5 miles down and finally pass the accident drained more life out of me than sitting through repeated viewings of "The Phantom Menace". To kill time I called Mr. Scoop at work and narrated my observations of the fat guy in Toyota Yaris in back of me who was combating fatigue hysteria by slowly and deliberately working his way through a party size bag of Cool Ranch Doritoes. No corn chip was left unmolested. Each was placed lovingly on his tongue like a communion wafer and ingested with due solemnity. When he'd finally finished the bag, he licked his index finger, wiped along the inside of the bag and then proceeded to rub the remnants of Dorito dust into his gums. Then he went to sleep. He went. To fucking. Sleep. He dozed for about 5 minutes, head back and mouth agape. I have no idea how. I'm just glad he didn't rolled his car into mine while he was doing it. A horn blast from the car in back of him eventually brought him back to life. It was at this point that he nonchalantly bent over and rummaged around on the floor near his passage seat. When he came up for air, he was rocking a largish bag of Funyuns. I half expected him to grind the bag up in his big meaty hands and start snorting them off the dashboard. I was saved from further vicarious snack food horrors as, now, the traffic finally started moving again.

By the time I arrived home, I felt as though I'd been thoroughly wrung out. My clothing was soaked through (and the rains had never even broken) and it was all I could do to get to the couch and lay limply upon it. It was at about this point that I realized I really needed to buy a new car.

So I did. No amount of window tinting will ever be able to shield me from Funyun and Dorito related madness, but at least I can partake of air conditioning while I have to sit through it.