Sunday, January 18, 2004

Life's Little Messages

Have you ever noticed how life sends you messages when you aren't paying attention to the right things? To be honest, I have been enjoying my three day weekend up until the point where I received my last message this evening. I was out running the errands I didn't get to yesterday, now referred to as loaf-around-in-your-pajamas day. I was impressed with my efficiency. I packed up the remaining bits of Christmas into my car to drive it down the hill to the storage place. I picked up my mail, then drove around the corner to the post office to drop off some netflix movies and a letter, then over to Safeway for something good to eat as well as deposit some checks in the ATM there. I got back to the car and decided to leave the top down as I drove over to Oakland to drop off some things with Tom and Di for their trip and then I went to IKEA.

I bought only what was on my list, pretty much a miracle for me really. I stashed most of it in the trunk and one box, a black Traktor stool for my desk in the passenger seat of my incredibly small car. Feeling proud of myself, I went out to the left to get a coffee at a new coffee shop on San Pablo. When I got there, they were already closed, so I went into the bakery across the way for a simplier drink in their less ambiant shop.

Knowing that I didn't have to get to sleep early, I bought a large and managed to overfill it. This didn't last long. As I carried it over to a table, the cup bent just enough to slosh really hot coffee over my right hand. I was planning on drinking coffee while working on a list of things I wanted to do later that evening, but I was too annoyed with myself to do this now. I put the top on the cup (a little late, I know, no need to nag, I'm already suffering) and went out to the car to head home. It was nice seeing how the old neighborhood has changed and the coffee was smelling good. I thought I would take a sip from my slightly less full cup of coffee before I got onto the highway.

Of course the light changed. They always change when you don't want them to, so I sipped gingerly as I started forward. I needed to turn soon so I went to put my cup into the cup-holder when the box, remember the Traktor chair sitting next to me?, decided to tilt toward me. I still had the cup in my hand, so I tapped it defensively to put it in it's place. Well the Swedish-designed chair thought differently and decided to come back at me again. Now this is a problem because I am going into the turn and need to make a quick decision. I decide to not run off the road nor veer into the lane to my left. The box sensing it's opportunity, takes out my coffee which flips into my lap. Did I mention that the sun was setting? Yes it was a beautiful sunset this evening. I watched it from the bakery. So now it's dark. Especially dark in the car, my coffee cup is somewhere in my lap and the damn box is still looking for more action. I find the cup which gracefully did a complete 180 onto my left thigh. As I pick it up, I feel the glug-glug of coffee now leaving the mouth part of the lid and pouring onto my leg. I quickly right the cup and deftly slip it into the cup holder to my right. I note that the coffee is less hot now so I'm not screaming in pain, but swearing at the box under my breath. I am still on the road and not causing any accidents, so I start punching the box. Being a dumb cardboard box, it keeps coming at me. Given the burn on that hand, I'm not hitting the box hard enough to do any damage. To the box that is. The metal stool inside knocks back in protest. I take a couple more swings at the box muttering something I believe was "stupid f-ing box" again and again until my hand hurts more from punching the box than from the coffee.

I start laughing at myself, because I realize how stupid this all is and how stupid I am acting. I pull at the bottom of the box so that it is wedged in such a way that only an act of god would cause it to fall anywhere near me. It's at this point that I realize that my ICKY, Pittsburgh, has been suspiciously quiet. Being a small turtle made of rubber, it's not like he ever has much to say, but his eyes, were they visible, would be saying, "tsk tsk tsk". So I listened to the little turtle's imaginary scolding, slowed down, turned up the radio and took it easy.

What's an ICKY? And why do I have one named Pittsburgh? Well, Mom read an article in Reader's Digest about ways to keep young drivers alive. She thought it had some good ideas including sending the four of us off with a friend named ICKY (Impatience Can Kill You). I don't remember my first one, but he was a serious fellow and did a fine job. My latest pal has been with me for quite a while. My sister bought him for me in a novelty shop in, you guessed it, Pittsburgh, PA. He's been my constant companion in my last 3 cars and has cruised from Maine to Florida and New York to California. Now I know he's small but he is my own personal Jiminy Cricket, my shotgun conscience. Given the sheer quantity of stupid people out on the roads you might want to consider getting one of your own. Stay safe people.

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