31 December 2008

Going to hell in a Mazda

Yesterday (December 30), in spite of it being my son's 17th birthday, was one I was more than glad to throw in the dumpster of history. The day before, I'd somehow sprained my right foot -- then again, since I didn't do anything to cause it, I wonder if it's a gout attack. I do have occasional flare-ups on my big toes, yet haven't before experienced it on my ankle. It does happen, though, and either way it hurts like a mo-fo. The more I think about it, the more I think this is gout.

The night before (Monday), Sera put one of those microwavable heating pads on the foot. Big mistake. Heat was the last thing that recalcitrant ankle needed.

How I was able to get out of bed, much less drive to work, is a head-scratcher. No, a head-bumper. As I was trying to get out of the shower yesterday morning without putting too much weight on my foot, I brained my head on the door railing above.

On top of that I had to get Tiger back toward Alabama. Sera had a doctor's appointment, but I was able to leave work early. I would've asked my wife to make this trip, were it not for a wrinkle in the routine. Instead of meeting Whatzername at Fort Valley (halfway spot), she sent her brother, who was buying a truck from a guy in Newnan, about 40 miles southwest of Atlanta. Seems he needs my son's help -- he was taking two vehicles back to Montgomery, and he was tapped to drive "Walt's" old vehicle.

A black Corvette.

Yeah, this trip was an adventure in and of itself. Apart from it taking forever to get to Newnan -- there's no easy way to get there from my direction without venturing into Atlanta Traffic Hell™, which covers a radius of roughly 40 miles from the gold dome. Atlanta is one big parking lot, and those living in suburbia up there practically have to leave at 5 AM just to get to work on time ... and get home at 8 PM. Leaving not a whole helluva lot of time for, ummmm, a LIFE.

Well, taking the backroads through such beautiful burgs as Roberta and Thomaston, it took nearly five (5) hours to get to Newnan. And I did this without a road map. Though not by choice; I'd left all cartography in the other vehicle. One thing I wanted to do is avoid Atlanta's remotest perimeter, and approach Newnan from the south.

In that time I could've driven nearly all the way to Eclectic, Ala., and spared everyone involved the trouble.

And Newnan, true to form, was its usual charming Atlanta self at 5:00. Meaning, traffic traffic everywhere. We met Walt, and the look on Tiger's face when he realized just what car he was going to be driving back home ..... well, let's just say that was a birthday treat he won't soon forget.

Now DAD, on the other hand...... Yeah, I was getting a little queasy at the sight of my son driving off in a Corvette into Atlanta Traffic Hell™. The last sight I had was of him taking a left turn behind his uncle onto the road leading back to I-85. At the same time, I did a U-turn on the side street to get into a nearby gas station ($1.41/9; and, as a bonus, Diet Mountain Dew in the fountain).

With tank filled, I ventured eastward on Georgia 34 through the southern rim of ATH, skirting the wilds of Peachtree City. I called my wife to let her know I was (finally) homeward bound. As I was doing this, another call came in: my former BIL. Yeah, Walt was now on the side of I-85, waiting for Tiger. Seems he didn't make it onto the interstate.

Nice going.

What's more, my parents had gotten Tiger a new cellphone (he has one on their plan), so as of yesterday his existing phone was deactivated. Why didn't they do this AFTER he got back home?? So much for the REASON he was given that cellphone to begin with.

Turning around and going back to Newnan would've been pointless. Needle in a haystack. I would never have found him.

I love my son. Bless his heart*, the kid has no sense when it comes to navigation. He just wants the fun of driving without the responsibility of same. Meaning, paying attention to his surroundings. Meaning, knowing what a bloody INTERSTATE highway is. What the shields look like. What an "onramp" is.

(* = Southern protocol mandates all nasty comments be prefaced with the phrase "Bless (his/her) heart.")

My son, in other words, is identical to his mother. That woman can get lost on a freeway. I kid you not. Clearly, not one speck of roadgeek DNA made it into that kid.

As I was driving south on Ga. 154 toward Senoia, I had the vision of my son, in the middle of suburban Atlanta's traffic hell -- IN A GOLLDURNED CORVETTE, no less -- completely lost and panicking. I honestly don't think he would've thought to find a payphone (people his age don't know what they are), nor find phone numbers on his cellphone's address book, still accessible despite it being dead.

At this point, I remembered the allegedly sage advice I doled out to Kate/Susan earlier this year. "Not my problem", I repeated like a mantra. When my son got into his uncle's Corvette and we all drove our separate ways, I'd officially passed the baton. My direct authority over him ceased. He was now in the jurisdiction of the Republic of Ex-Wife.

Still, I was worried. So I called his mother, who had also spoken with Walt. She assured me Tiger was on I-85 and had just gotten separated.

Okay, fine. So for about 20 minutes I had a sense of security. Long enough to swing through Mickey D's in Senoia for a bite of supper.

No sooner than I put that hamburger toward my mouth, my cellphone rings. It's a 770 area code (metro Atlanta), and it's my son. He didn't make it onto the interstate (nice going, Whatzername!). After losing sight of his uncle's new truck, Tiger backtracked to the Wachovia where we'd met. He needed Uncle Walt's phone number, which I gladly gave to him.

I'm relieved he had enough sense to go back to the starting point.

Driving back home was not one of my more pleasant trips. The only positive thing about it was the American Top 40 from December 1972 I'd loaded onto my new iPod Nano (blue). That was one awesome week in time (yes, a review is forthcoming).

About the time I was driving through Griffin, I felt the dreaded pall of sickness wash over me. That "tired"/"puny" feeling one gets when they have a cold. (At least I waited 'till the end of my son's visit to get sick!)

As Casey might've said, "As the numbers get smaller, the Tal is getting sicker."

I-75 was a welcomed sight. I thought the worst was over, that I could set the cruise and enjoy AT40. Guess again -- my foot, which did fine while driving (it was just the act of getting into and out of the car that was difficult), began hurting along about Dublin, even sitting idle while driving at a nice 73 MPH clip along I-16. I got off the interstate in a quest for a CVS or a Walgreen's. Any place where A) I could "drain the monster", B) I could get something to drink, and C) buy some ibuprofen. I could've accomplished all three at any one of the gas stations at Exit 51. Trouble is, I didn't want to pay out the nose for a small pack of Advil.

Into Dublin I went, trying to find one. Anything. I would've been happy with friggin' Rite Aid (I hate Rite Aid, in case anyone hasn't yet figured that out). And all I saw was a Rite Aid.

Obviously, people in Laurens County, Georgia are of so perfect health that no drug store needs to stay open past 8:00 p.m. It was now 8:08. I got out, and the woman wasted no time turning out the lights to let me know THEY WERE CLOSED.

Did I mention how much I revile Rite Aid?

Across the street was a Southern Foods Market. That is one of the "trailer park food" outfits that took over the bankrupted remnants of the old Bruno's grocery chain (FoodFair, Food Max, Food World). They were open, so I limped in there to find some @#$%ing pain reliever and a bathroom. Of course, as luck would have it, their Necessary Facilities were as far to the back of the store as one could get. I'm sure I looked like a spastic retard trudging my way back there.

All drained, I picked up the Southern Foods "Doublewide Pride™" brand ibuprofen, plus an (overpriced) bottle of Diet Mountain Dew for the road.

Then it was back to I-16. My AT40 finished, I was entertained with the OTR programs I'd brought for the rest of my trip. The foot behaved itself until I got home and my wife was waiting with an icepack, Ace bandage and pillows.

It was 10:12 p.m. when I pulled into our driveway. I was never so happy to get home as I was yesterday. I spent an hour in the living room, my foot on ice and elevated. Then we set me up in our bed the same way. I slept all night that way, and woke up at 4:30 this morning to go into work.

Today the foot is still sore. I still walk like a retard. But it's not as painful as yesterday. The ice, I'm convinced, is what helped. As for the rest of me, I think I'm getting my traditional post-Christmas malaise. *cough*

So there you have it. Now if you'll excuse me, I have to limp myself to the microwave to fix me some popcorn.

Ciao for niao.

--Tal the Cripple

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