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.
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.