How I survived the unpredictable life of a Coaster commuter during the morning rush hour.
It’s five o’clock in the morning. You don’t feel like getting up, but the alarm went off, so you lazily slide out of your sheets and head toward the bathroom to start washing up. Seems to be a fine morning. You turn on the TV to hear the weather forecast to help you decide what to wear for the day. It’s going to be cold, so you’ll bundle up, mittens and all. As you’re brushing your teeth, the telephone rings. Is it the telephone or is it on TV? There it is again. Ah, it is your phone. You hope it is not Papa or Mama in distress. As far as you know all your children are in bed, so you rule out those possibilities.
You pick up the receiver and after you say, “Hello,” a faint voice, barely awake, whispers, “Mom, you think Dad can drive me to the dentist this afternoon? Jeremy’s truck broke down so I don’t have a car to drive Shiloh to his dental appointment.”
Without hesitation, you agree, “”O.K. I’ll drive the small car so your Dad can take you. I’ll have him call you later.”
Well, it’s not a big problem after all. You are relieved as you say to yourself, I can handle that. You finish dressing up, but it takes a little more time than usual to blow dry your hair so that it doesn’t kink up.
You proceed to the kitchen where your husband has your cup of coffee ready for you, but you need a piece of toast, a half a banana, and an egg for breakfast. Have to follow your three-day diet; otherwise, you will balloon in no time at all.
Oops, I don’t have a boiled egg. You get the small pot, put in four eggs (three for the sleepyheads upstairs).. As you wait for your eggs to boil, you say to your husband, “I’m driving the small car today because April wants you to drive her to the dentist this afternoon.”
He hesitates and says, “There’s only one problem. I don’t have enough gas in the small car.”
“Is there enough to take me to the gas station?”
“I think so, but I only have three dollars for gas.”
“That’s not a problem. I have a twenty.”
“You’ll have to leave a few minutes early then.”
Still no big deal. You figured that out already because you don’t like being stressed out on your way to work. You always give yourself ample time to get you to the Coaster station. These problems can be handled, right? So, you leave at 6:02 instead of 6:18. The extra sixteen minutes should give you plenty of time.
I don’t have time to eat this egg. I’ll take it with me. Then you put it in your coat pocket. You kiss your husband goodbye and off you go.
At 6:08, when you get to the AM/PM, you notice a sign on the pump just after the one being used. You roll down your window and ask the person ahead of you, “Is that an ‘Out of Order’ sign?” He says no, and you are so relieved. At least, you will not have to pull to another pump. You wait until he takes off and you pull forward, but instead of stopping at the pump that the guy ahead of you used, you pull all the way forward because there is nobody there. That allows for someone else to pull in behind you. You get out but lo and behold, the sign reads, “Out of Order.”
It’s 6:12. Things aren’t working as planned. You scowl and scratch your head and get into the car to back it up. You get out again, put your $20 bill in the payment machine, and remove the gas cap. To save time, you throw the gas cap inside the car on the passenger seat so it will not roll on the ground or get misplaced or something. You take the nozzle and place it in the gas tank. When you look up, you see that you picked the wrong pump number, which you did not really want. It’s now 6:14, you go inside the AM/PM to tell the clerk you did not want Pump #3. You needed Pump #2. No problem. He resets the computer and, presto, you have the right pump. As you walk back, you open your eyes a little wider. It’s not Pump #2 the clerk flicked. it’s Pump#1.
With your hair starting to get kinky from the frustration, you head back inside to tell the clerk that it’s Pump #1 and not Pump #2. The two guys who are ahead of you at the cash register make smart aleck comments to each other loud enough for you to hear, something like, “Oh, yea, she made a mistake…” You ignored that although your hair is already getting kinkier by the second.
Back at the car, the gas stops coming at $9.76 so you manually pump the last few pennies to make an even purchase of $10.00 but Holy Smokes! It overshot a penny. Oh well, so be it. The tank cannot hold anymore but now where is the gas cap? You stop for a moment and peek inside the car. It’s not on the passenger seat where you thought you put it. You go around the passenger side, open the door and find the cap on the floor. There you are! As soon as you close the lid of the gas tank, you hurried inside the store to get your change. The clerk looks up and says, “Do you have a penny?”
“Well, no. I left my purse in the car but I can get it and come back to give it to you.”
With a wry smile on his face, he hands you your $10 change and you fly back to the car. Being the considerate person that you are, you move your car out of the pump area and you park in front of the store. You search for a penny from your coin purse. With the penny in hand, you run inside the store and drop it on the counter.
It’s 6:26…O.K. You’re not doing too badly. However, you’ll feel a lot better when you can park your car at the Coaster parking area at 6:32. You speed away.
Oh, wow! You made it, and it’s about the same time that you get there every day. You feel good and are so proud of yourself. As you are getting out of the car, you poke your hand inside your coat pocket. You feel something wet and mushy--the egg you didn’t have time to eat for breakfast got smashed from going in and out of the car as many times as a propeller rotates in a minute. Now, you need a wipe, and you cannot find any. So, you use your mittens to wipe the egg from your coat pocket. Meanwhile, you hate to throw the whole thing away, so you put the egg yolk in your mouth. Someone in the car across from you is watching and you feel like crawling inside as you swallow the egg yolk in a gulp.
“Good morning,” Carolyn says to you as you are standing at the curb, waiting for the Coaster.
“Good morning to you too,” you respond with a smile.
“How are you doing?”
“You don’t really want to know, do you?”
Carolyn raises her eyebrow with an inquiring smile.
“Well, it’s one of those mornings when a little kink can start your day wrong.”
“I have those days, too.”
“Yes, and I’m going to write about this one as soon as we get on the Coaster. I just thank God that this does not happen every day.”
The Coaster doesn’t arrive at the station until 6:38. It was six minutes late.