Friday, July 07, 2006

Greetings from Iowa!

I'm writing this from my Aunt's basement guest room where I have found myself in the midst of family drama. Long story short my week-o-vaca has been detoured by the passing of a great-aunt of mine. While I cannot say that we were close, she was one of my favorite distant relatives. She was one of those relatives who are old for your entire life – the ones that you cannot imagine not wearing costume jewelry and floral print dresses. I only found out yesterday because I happened to be talking to my aunt about coming out for a visit for a few days – and now that few days has been lengthened somewhat into at least through the funeral on Saturday.

The worst thing about it is not dealing with death – it was the commute out of the city. True to form, I ended up taking longer than I expected to pack and take care of business around the house before I left. Typically, this is just a monir annoyance but the difference between leaving at 3 and leaving at 4 takes on a whole new level of important when trying to leave Chicago – it's the difference between just missing rush hour and getting mired in the thick of it for an hour and half. Needless to say, this will never be happening again.

Once I got on the road* traffic was pretty light and the road construction minimal. I made it easy on myself this trip by stopping to pick up one of the I-Pass transponders for paying tolls without stopping before I left. Heretofore I had always pooh-poohed them as the trappings of suburban living, as everyone I know who lives in the 'burbs owns one. But eventually I realized that if I had one then I'd only pay half what I had been paying in tolls – which can add up to a pretty penny driving all the way out to Iowa. It worked pretty well too – and since it fits entirely behind my rear-view mirror, I can just ignore it and pretend that I don't own one and therefore I'm still thwarting the suburban establishment.

The rest of the drive was uneventful, except for this one part where I was passing through some road construction. In the last few years there have been multiple instances of road workers being hit by negligant or drunk drivers while on the job. These accidents get a lot of publicity, and there was even a new law passed ramping up penalties for hitting a worker on the job**. I've always felt really sorry for said workers in these instances – until today.

As I was driving through the work*** I saw this one worker literally walking into my lane, holding his hand out in a trying-to-signal-something-but-not-being-specific-enough-to-have-any-clear-meaning sort of way. I was so confused – obviously he wanted me to do something, parading out into traffic like that, but what? Was my driving at 5 miles per hour less than the posted speed not slow enough for him? Was he suicidal and trying to end it all before thinking of the children and veering back behind the traffic cones? Was there something wrong with one of my tires? It was all terribly confusing, and frankly pretty damned irritating. Then I wondered how many of those aforementioned accidents were just workers being idiots and wandering into traffic when their ham sandwich got blown out of their hand by the wind or when the voices from the booze told them that real life frogger was waaaaaaayyyyy more fun than any ol' video game.

Suddenly, I felt not so sorry for the construction workers who got hit. If they were like this guy, that is.

* And – more importantly – beyond the suburbs
** Presumably, hitting a road worker anywhere else just gets you the same old, same old...
*** At below the posted “construction zone speed limit” mind you

2 comments:

towwas said...

Sorry to hear about your great-aunt. I had a great-aunt like that - she died last year, well into her 90's. I've seen pictures of her when she was in her 20's, and she looked old then.

MKD said...

I work for a lawyer about 2 hours outside Chicago - watch yourself if you are in Henry County (Illinois) on Interstate 80. You wouldn't believe the number of speeders we get from that stretch of the interstate - State Police out of that district, and the local cops, are JERKS and nail you for anything and everything they can.

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