Alternate Route: My Long Journey Home


I share the following story not in the hopes that you will learn from my mistakes, but that you will read these words and realize what a true badass I am (in case you didn’t already know).

I ventured home from work around ten o’clock one dark night in September. Before getting on the interstate, I thought it would be wise to stop and grab something to eat. I felt a nervousness in the pit of my stomach as I pulled into the McDonald’s drive-through. I should’ve recognized this foreboding moment as more than a prequel to a bout of IBS, but I didn’t. I was starving and tired.

The gentleman at the loud speaker read my order back to me incorrectly. After correcting it, he asked if I would like tomato on my chicken sandwich. I told him I didn’t care.

“Ma’am, I can’t decide for you.”

“I probably shouldn’t say this, but I really don’t care what you put in that bag. I’m going to eat it regardless.”

“Please pull around,” he said calmly.

When I arrived at the window I apologized for being so blunt. I explained that I was just really hungry and tired.

“I didn’t get it at first,” he said, “but I believe you now with that look you got on your face.”

“Well,” I stammered. “My face doesn’t… move a whole lot.”

“My Grand Mama’s face don’t move a lot either ‘cause she had a stroke. You had a stroke?”

“No,” I answered grabbing my bag of mystery food. “Sometimes, when women get older…”

He interrupted. “Well, Imma pray for you anyway that your face move again.”

“Not necessary, but thanks. I guess. Ok, have a good,” he closed the window.

Friggin’ whippersnappers.

I was headed down the interstate when I reached into my bag and found my plain chicken sandwich made just the way I had requested. Cha-ching! However, as I approached the I-40/I-65 interchange there were lights flashing. My exit was completely closed. I panicked.

I don’t know any other way to get home. Should I call 9-1-1, or find a hotel? Maybe I can find a quiet place to bed down at an underpass until tomorrow. Wait a minute! I think I remember signs warning me about this last week, but I didn’t pay them any mind. I never thought that it would apply to me. I don’t use alternate routes! Alternate routes happen to other people.

Oh, Lori! Listen to yourself. This is exactly the kind of thinking that led you head-on into a Veteran’s Day parade in Fairhope, AL five years ago. Had it not been for a conveniently located alleyway and a horse that was light on his feet who knows what could have happened? Old people can be so mean when frightened.

It’s ok. I can do this! I will just use my navigation and this time I won’t argue with it.

I crammed that dry chicken sandwich into my face as Siri directed me in a forty-mile circle around Nashville only to dump me five feet past the initial roadblock. Thankfully, it was just far enough and I was able to follow my familiar route home. *

As I pulled into my garage that night I felt as triumphant as I always do after having worked a shift, but with a little extra chutzpah. Not only had I taken the path least traveled, albeit against my will, but I had also eaten fast-food for the first time in over a year and made it all the way home without crapping my pants.

*Strong work, TDOT on closing an entire section of interstate for a job that size.

2 thoughts on “Alternate Route: My Long Journey Home

  • I do not panic when I get lost, which is frequently. I become irrationally angry. Once my grand daughter’s phone GPS disagreed with the car’s GPS. No blood was shed, tho.

    Love how you tell stories.

    • Thank you, Virginia!!! Oh, but my blood is boiling with the audacity those GPS generals have by insisting that THEIR route is the right way. There ARE several ways to get places!! I’m with you.

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