When his company says he must carpool . . .
Write a short story or poem about an odd thing that happens on the way to work.
The Good Side of Global Warming
At work, the guys and I were munching on our sandwiches when the announcement came down.
"Ladies and gents, due to global warning, Fred Industries has just made the decision that henceforth all personnel are required to use energy-efficient transportation. Carpooling, bus travel, walking, or biking are all acceptable modes. Anyone driving their own car without sharing the ride with a minimum of three Fred Industries employees, even if that vehicle is an energy-efficient model, will be put on notice."
"Darn," Charles said, just before he crammed a handful of chips into his mouth. "Can they really make us do that?"
"Nope," Sam said, shaking his head and licking the peanut butter off his right thumb. "They can't legally dictate how we arrive at work, but we all know the company's trying to figure out just who gets dumped since they're cutting back employees. Which one of you wants to argue about it?"
Bill and I looked at each other and shook our heads.
"All right," I said. "Let's carpool. Who wants to drive Monday?"
"I'll do it," Sam responded. "My car will fit all of you . . . except . . . Mark, you live on the opposite side of town. It doesn't make any sense for you to go with us."
"Yeah," Charles agreed, munching on cookies that kept dropping crumbs all over his white shirt. He smiled at me with teeth cookie-blackened.
I argued, of course, but the upshot is that I wasn't included in my friends' carpool.
When I got back to my desk, I checked the bus schedule, but the route that drove by my neighborhood didn't start early enough for me to get to the plant on time.
For the rest of the day, I dropped hints, asked, begged, even attempted to bribe my co-workers to let me join their carpools. No luck. I was on my own.
At closing time, I cleaned out my coffee cup, turned off my computer, and grabbed my jacket. I ran out the door, determined to catch someone I could tag along with. Guess I shouldn't have washed out the mug. Everyone was gone by the time I got to the front gate.
I'd have to ride my son's bike, I decided. It was only four miles to the plant. The exercise would do me good.
Isn't it funny how the best-laid plans so often desert us just when we're counting on them. I'd checked over the bike on Saturday, but on Monday, it had a flat. I searched for a pump, remembering that we used to have one.
The minute hand on the garage clock was playing leapfrog with the numerals. Since management always required us to attend the 8:30 Monday morning meetings, I knew I had to leave immediately. Once more my eyes circled the wagons, tricycles, and boxes of used clothing scattered all about the garage. No pump, but then I saw it - my son's skateboard.
I buckled on a helmet, fastened the kneepads and zoomed off. At about a mile from home, a car with two teenage girls zipped by. A blonde whistled at me. I almost tumbled over.
I had to walk up Ralph Avenue. The hill was enormous. Coming down the other side, I gained too much speed and almost danced cheek to cheek with a blue and white mailbox.
I skated through Dover Park. An elderly couple was sitting on a bench. "Slow down, young man," the old guy yelled at me. His wife cackled and ordered him to be quiet.
On the other side of the park, the stoplight was red. I panted as I tried to catch my breath. "You okay?" a little girl asked, stopping her jump-roping to stare at me.
I nodded and went on, crossing the street on the skateboard, just like I'd always told my son not to do.
I was two blocks from the plant when I decided I'd had enough. A blister on my foot was throbbing. Sweat was dribbling down my neck. My face was hot, and the back of my throat felt like it had been torched.
"Way to go, Mark," called out a man's voice. I glanced inside a green Toyota just passing me. It was a group from work. I waved at them, wiped the sweat off my forehead with the back of my hand, and pushed off down the street.
It was 8:25 by the time I finally got to work. I didn't have time to stash the skateboard at my desk. I took off running for the boardroom. As I rounded the hall, turning to go into the room where we had to be at exactly 8:30 or else, I almost crashed into my boss.
"Mark?" the man said, giving me a once over. He smiled. "Cool helmet. You skateboard, uh? Good for you. I like a man who's not afraid to think out of the box. Way to go," he added, giving me a nod of approval and a high five.
I opened the door for him, then entered and dropped into the first available seat. I was breathing harder than someone my age should breathe, but I was suddenly feeling great. I placed the skateboard upside down on the floor beside me and listened attentively as my boss gave us his usual Monday morning speech.
Days passed. My skateboarding journey grew easier. I found that by Friday I was even arriving at work without huffing and puffing. That was good, but the best part came at the end of the month when the company posted the names of those who were being laid off. Guess whose name WAS NOT on the list!