Once upon a time, approximately one and a half hours ago, I posted the following photo to Instagram:
And yes, I posted it from my car, which is of course a terrible horrible no-no thing to do, though in my defense I posted it while the car was sitting still in bumper-to-bumper traffic. Completely, terribly, horribly no-no-no-OH-FUCK still.
(I also used the microphone thing-y to transcribe the caption. SAFETY FIRST.)
When I left my house to pick Ike up from school, the info screen informed me that I had 11 miles to go before empty. Ike's school is about four miles away, with a gas station smack dab in the middle. So we cool, Info Screen Bro. We cool.
TWENTY MINUTES LATER, I arrived at Ike's school — over 10 minutes late and completely baffled by the traffic I'd just sat through. It's noon! On a Thursday! The government isn't even open! What the hell!
Ike's teacher said that another parent told her that the President Obama's motorcade was in the area. Which: Yuuuuupppp. That'll do it, all right. That'll fuck things up real good. I once sat at a traffic light while the vice president's motorcade passed through the intersection and am pretty sure I could have made it through War and Peace on audiobook in the time it took.
(For the record, any thrill you feel at the initial realization that there's somebody famous and important in one of those be-flagged cars usually wears off by be-flagged car number 17. It's more like being stuck at a railroad crossing while the world's most patriotic freight train lumbers through.)
I collected Ike and got back in the car.
INFO SCREEN BRO: Uh. You got like, three miles until empty. Just sayin.
Since the traffic going in the opposite direction (leading back to the conveniently located gas station) had been even worse than what I'd sat in, I decided to head off in a different direction, towards a different gas station. Slightly further away from my house but totally worth it because I was gonna outsmart the...
...traffic. Oh. There's traffic over here, too. Possibly even worse traffic. Every car that had been diverted off the highway for the motorcade was now here, on this piddly little back road with poorly-timed traffic lights that let all of three cars through at a time because that's how many cars usually drive on this piddly little road.
(This is when it finally occurred to me to like, turn on the stupid radio and find out what was going on, and I was promptly informed that I'd basically just driven even CLOSER to the source of the motorcase clusterfuck.)
(Also, let me interrupt my own disjointed story here and add the background detail that I had Ceiba with me in the car as well, because she loves car rides. And I love startling other drivers at red lights when they look over and see a bat-eared pointy-faced hamster staring back at them like HI HI HI COME NEAR THIS CAR AND I WILL DESTROY YOU HI HI.)
INFO SCREEN BRO: One mile, asshole. ARE YOU HIGH OR SOMETHING? ARE WE PLAYING CHICKEN?
Now, since my life is nothing more than an endless repeating loop of easily-avoidable catastrophes, I should point out that this has happened to me before. Once, in a snowstorm, during which I 1) blindly followed my GPS to a completely non-existent gas station, and then 2) drove to a different gas station only to discover that I'd left my wallet at home.
This time I did have my wallet. (You know I checked for that shit in a terrible burst of deja vu.) And oh, thank the sweet baby flying spaghetti monster, there's the gas station. Now hopefully there isn't a line for the pumps and...
...uh, where the fuck did the gas station go?
The gas station was gone. Like, it had been there, I swear, up until fairly recently, and I wasn't just basing this belief on that lying bitchass of a GPS. The gas station was fenced off, boarded up, and the pumps had been freshly replaced by GIANT GAPING HOLES IN THE GROUND.
I pulled into a parking space and turned the car off. After engaging in some very vigorous lip-chewing I decided to call my husband, even though I'm not really sure what I expected him to do. Give me a pep talk? Reveal that the minivan came with some hidden double-secret probation extra gas tank that was totally full so I would be fine? Rush out of work and show up at the parking lot with a heroic gallon of gas? (Ooh, yes! That one!)
Either way, I only got his voicemail. I was on my own. IT WAS UP TO ME TO ADULT.
CEIBA: Iz hot. Plz put windows down so I can stick head out and freak out normals.
The only other gas station that was even remotely reachable was the OG station, the one I'd purposely decided to avoid in the first place. It was just over a mile away, and of course I had to assume there would be still more gridlock. I knew there was a buffer zone once the info screen counted down to zero, but I had no idea how MUCH of a buffer zone there was. A mile? Five miles? LET'S ALL FIND OUT IN TODAY'S EXPERIMENT IN TERROR.
I decided that I could shave some distance off if I cut through a shopping center's parking lot. I shrieked OH COME ONNNNNN to other drivers who had the gall to like, drive in front of me and pull into parking spaces. I also didn't realize the other side of the parking lot had a confusing one-way entrance and okay, this is hard to explain but I got stuck turning left when I wanted to go right and I had to drive around BACK of this whole big shopping center in the opposite direction and that's when I let out a frenzied hysterical shriek because WHY ARE MY COPING SKILLS SUCH GARBAGE?
IKE: What wrong, Mama?
MAMA: Nothing, baby! *slams on brakes to avoid striking elderly pedestrian* Just the whole universe conspiring against me, as usual!
CEIBA: *falls off seat*
I made it to the gas station! And there was no traffic! No traffic at all! So I basically made everything 10 times worse for myself by not just driving back the direct route in the first place! THIS IS WHY YOU DON'T TRY TO SOLVE PROBLEMS, KIDS.
EPILOGUE TWO, BECAUSE RELEVANT: