Monday, June 16, 2003

Toll Booth Stories

Just the other day I was catching up on some of the journals I like to read. I used to read a lot of journals. I blame it all on an old co-worker who innocently asked if I knew anything about online journals. I started reading some of the ones she sent me. When I was working at the a couple of years ago, I spent much of my 'look busy' time reading journals. I read 5 years of archives and thought that I could do this too.

Last October I went to JournalCon 2002 since it was in my home town. I've been keeping up with a bunch of journals from journallers that were there. One guest speaker/journaller Pamie has been re-posting some older entries from her archive. This one reminded me of a trip I took with my younger brother Bill. And this one from Jette convinced me to post it, knowing that he'd be okay with it.

It was back in 1985 and Bill and I decided to take a class to learn how to scuba dive. After several weeks of classroom and pool work, we were ready for our open dive test. Now this was back when I was living in New York and it was late April. I wasn't sure how cold it was going to be even with a wet suit at this time of the year, but off we went with images of diving in the warm waters of the Caribbean with colorful tropical fish all around us.

When the weekend came, Bill and I decided that I would drive down and he would drive back. Lovely Dutch Springs Diving and Recreational Facility was your basic flooded quarry. Someone decided to turn it into a "facility" by putting in platforms at varying levels as well as submerging a few items of interest, boats, a helicopter, an airplane, a few shopping carts and whatnot. The dive itself was marred by a few tragic errors on our parts. One - I should not have had a soda with my lunch prior to the afternoon dive. Gas bubbles in your stomach are small and somewhat managable on land, but 30-50 ft underwater they are larger and well, they scared the shit out of me, I freaked out, made an emergency ascent and had to be calmed down before I could finish the rest of my test. Bill wasn't laughing at me as much as he might have ordinarily. The reason? Well, in all the excitement, he managed to not exhale out of his nose at any point during his dive. Doesn't sound like that big of a deal, you say? Well when he got out of the water and took off his mask he had what in the trade is called mask squeeze. In layman's terms he had a giant face hickey. It sorta looked like he was a human raccoon or that I whacked him in the face while he slept. In any case it made it hard to look him in the eye without snickering.

The second day of diving was uneventful and we started our drive back home. We were in the family car, a big white Ford Country Squire station wagon with faux-wood decals on the side and back - a classic 80s vehicle. At one point during the trip, this sweet-looking candy apple red Mustang zoomed by us as we approached a toll plaza. The driver tapped his brakes once, threw the quarter toll into the exact change basket and roared off. My smirk turned to shock and dismay as it dawned on me that we weren't slowing down enough to pay the toll. I turned to look at Bill, a testosterone-charged gleam of challenge in his eye. He tapped the brakes once and furiously cranked the window down.

He took aim and pitched the quarter as we approached the toll booth. I really did wish that his aim was true and that through some miracle, the quarter might hit the mesh basket. However this was not what happened. In a flash, the quarter zoomed out past the tollbooth, not even close to its intended target. Bill jammed on the brakes, just past the basket, but not so far as to set off the alarms. He reached out and gestured for me to hand him another quarter. With his jaw firmly set, he shakes his head and says, "Don't say it, just hand me a quarter."

I'm silent but grinning as I hand him a quarter and he backs up the car to toss it in. As we pull away I can't hold it in any longer and laugh and laugh. You see he had been busting my chops for about 20 minutes prior to this stunt. I managed to navigate us in the wrong direction while looking for gas and we went through the same toll plaza twice. He joking informed me that I was going to have to pay extra for that mistake. Now, I figured, we were even.

No comments: