The ins and outs of a young library media specialist's life. Rock, rock on.

Friday, June 30, 2006

I Now Believe in Karma

Before I start receiving emails about my lack of summer posts thus far, I just want all you good people to know that there is a reason. Really. It was imperative that I waited until my blood pressure had gone down enough to sit at a keyboard and type out the whole sordid affair. I also needed about 17 hours of uninterrupted sleep and possibly that many beers to try to forget about it.

Ok. So. My attempt to get to Rochester on Wednesday afternoon. I left my place a little before 11 a.m. , after talking to The Boy and mentioning I was not looking forward to this long-ass haul. (Note: I didn't know it at the time, but this was karmic retribution, Take 1- don't complain about things that could be a thousand times worse). Regardless, the six hour drive had started off normally, the sky was overcast and a little menacing, but nothing my little Civic couldn't handle. I had packed away a granola bar and a diet cherry vanilla Coke as a reserve snack and I was grooving to some shuffled tunes thanks to my little nano. The Mass Pike was smooth sailing, despite the spitting rain, and I made it to NY in just a couple of hours.

As I cruised down the Thruway towards Albany I noticed a giant blinking sign on the side of the highway. THRUWAY CLOSED FROM 25A TO 36. SEEK ALTERNATE ROUTE. "Well that can't be right," I thought to myself. "That's like a 150 mile stretch. They must mean 25 to 26." In retrospect, this is where it all started to fall apart; the beginning of my downward spiral into a horrendous NY State folly.

Because as soon as I had that thought, I had to slam on my brakes to avoid the bumper to bumper standstill on the highway. (Good thing, too, since I was behind a state trooper. Actually, a trip to jail is probably the only thing that could have made this journey worse.) Still in my naively optimistic mood I thought: must be an accident, it'll clear up soon enough. It took about a half hour of not moving for me to even start to get concerned, and I textmessaged The Boy. "What's up with the Thruway being closed?" No immediate response. Hmm.

Another half hour went by of us sloooowly crawling. And another. When The Boy calls back he says, "the website just shows red for traffic the entire length of the Thruway." Something was starting to click in the back of my mind- something very unpleasant. He was trying to tell me other things, but I was concentrating too hard on getting the stupid earpiece that my sister bought me for $1 at a Florida fleamarket in my ear while driving behind a trooper to hear anything. After an hour and a half, I finally got up to the exit and find that the entire highway is being redirected to Route 20, a one lane road with a speed limit of 35, from Albany to Syracuse. You do the math. So, in a moment of genius, I had The Boy Google Map me different directions, thinking that I am so lucky to have the internet at the tips of my fingers. The new route would lead me down to Binghamton, a good 50 miles out of my way on 88, but would at least get me around this shitfest on the Thruway. I laughed a little at everyone getting off on 20 with the bumper to bumper standstill and zoom off down 88. (Karmic retribution, Take 2). I make it about 30 miles when all of a sudden there are orange cones everywhere, directing me off the highway with one small sign: Detour. I was starting to sweat. I didn't even know where I was. Oneonta? What the hell is an Oneonta? I drive around there for a good 30 minutes, since there are no actual detour signs up, talking (read: freaking out) to The Boy. Finally I spied a State Police barrack and pulled in there.

When I pulled open the door I was confronted with a crush of people wedged in amongst two startled police officers and xeroxed papers flying all around. I grabbed at one- a partial map of NY highways. I pushed through the nuns and children to get some information. Why is everything closed? What the hell was going on? (Ok, I didn't swear at the policeman. I should have though, he had a ridiculous mustache.) Officer Snidely Whiplash informed me that 88 had simply been washed away in a storm that morning, creating a 25 foot chasm in the highway, into which two truck drivers had driven their rigs, to their death. The Thruway was also closed due to flooding, and the only possible route that was still open was 20. I got back in my car, cried a little bit, and started out to follow the ridiculous route through Oneonta center that Whiplash had marked out for me through blurry tears. Since they had already closed 88 behind me I went another hour out of my way, past houses submerged in lakes and trailers washed away, just to get back to 20.

Route 20 remained as I had seen it earlier, bumper to bumper. Also of note here: no cell phone reception. I stopped at a pay phone, not even caring that the man before me had been spitting through his two front teeth onto the mouthpiece, and tried calling both The Boy and The Parents. No luck. Tears threatened to leak again, so I bought myself some Chex Party Mix and got back in the driver's seat. Grimly, I steeled myself to sit through anything, and got out a book.

I sat on that stretch of Route 20 for three and a half hours with my car shut off, reading my book. Finally one of the truckers behind me strolled up. "Just heard on the CB, Route 20 is closed. Flooding. They were rerouting people on some side road and that road collapsed. Guess you should turn around. Oh, and the Thruway won't be open until noon tomorrow. They sent out the National Guard. Want a cig for the road?" I politely declined the "cig" and started my car back up. To go where, I didn't know. Back to town? Apparently everyone else had just heard the same news, so getting back to the center of town took another 45 minutes, sitting behind the Oswego police van. I briefly considered faking a heart attack to get them to Medi-Vac me out of that godforsaken area but instead contented myself with the bold flavor of the Chex and studying my map.

To make this story just a little shorter, I tried 4 other routes in this way, with the same results, until 9 p.m. My back hurt, my head hurt, I was sunburnt, tired, thirsty, I had to pee, and if I didn't get out of my car soon I wouldn't need to fake a heart attack. I drove past 6 motels with No Vacancy signs before I got to lucky number 7- KC's Motel and Diner. I actually ran- ran- into the diner to get a room. I almost cried on the waitress's shoulder, I was so relieved, but I noticed the egg bits on her shirt just in time. After I got the key and stepped out of the diner, two huge dudes whistled over to me. "Heeeey chickadee. Wanna smoke a doob with us?" A weak smile and a "no, thanks" as I grabbed all my stuff and shoved in my room, locked and bolted the door, and shoved the dresser in front of it. All I could think of was that someone must have seen me carrying Guitar Hero through the parking lot (a birthday present for The Boy), and they would obviously break into my room to get their hands on it, shooting me in the head in the process. Scenes from A History of Violence ran through my head. I talked to The Boy, who asked if I had any weapons with me (?!), and The Parents, who just said, "Next time you'll check the news before you head out on a trip, won't you?" (?!?!) I turned on some Fresh Prince to calm my nerves and drown out the sounds of drunk men outside my window.

I woke up every 15 minutes to check the traffic outside my window. Finally, at 4:30 a.m., it was magically gone. I grabbed all my stuff up and jumped in my car with my pajamas on, unsure of what to do with the key the motel had given me. Screw it, I took it with me. Giant signs on the side of the road proclaimed the Thruway open from Utica on. Never in my life have I been so happy and relieved. I didn't care that the rest of 90 eastbound was still under water, I was free to go 90 mph on open highway with no one around me. I made it to Rochester by 7:15 a.m., in time to say good morning to The Boy before he went off to work and to promptly fall into a deep, deep sleep.

Which I have been doing up until this point. In fact, even though I woke up an hour ago, I could nap again right now.

Karma's a bitch, people. And that is why I didn't post yesterday. But my long, woeful tale should keep you occupied for a little while, at least, to make up for yesterday's disappointment. Hope none of you were stuck out there with me.

PS- Only one good thing came of this adventure to the Central Leatherstocking Region: I found the Museum of Petrified Creatures. For real, yo.


Anonymous Jeff D. rocks hardcore!

Aw, NPW, what a nightmarish journey! I'm just glad you made it through okay.

3:24 PM

Blogger NancyPearlWannabe rocks hardcore!

Thanks, Jeff! Good thing I'm tough. Like Rocky. Otherwise I might not have made it through.

2:44 PM

Blogger Aaron rocks hardcore!

Is it wrong that I derive so much pleasure from your misery? For serious?

6:21 PM

Blogger NancyPearlWannabe rocks hardcore!

Yes, Aaron. You are evil incarnate.

5:05 PM


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