Thoughts from the ammo line

Ammo Grrrll responds to the CALL OF DUTY. She writes:

So I’m lying on the pavement in the Prescott Residence Inn parking lot trying to copy numbers off my left front tire. There are many numbers on the tire and I don’t know which ones are important, so I just write down all of them. The blazing Arizona sunshine is blinding me until I have that “aha” moment that I shared with Sir Isaac Newton, Archimedes, and other like-minded geniuses: “Wait a minute, these numbers are also on the other front tire and my back would be to the sun.” It’s insights like that that allowed human civilization to march forward. Eventually.

A terrified front desk clerk at the Prescott Residence Inn spies me lying on the pavement and runs out to inquire if I have fallen and can’t get up. This is the kind of courtesy and concern extended to women of late, late middle age. No, but thanks for asking. When I explain what I am doing, she says confidently, “That’s BOY’S work!” I couldn’t agree more; but, my “boy” has told me that he thinks it would be good for me to do this myself. Always pushing me to be my best self – you just can’t buy supportiveness like that.

At my last oil change, the eager beaver service guy told me that with over 53,000 miles logged on my 2012 Hyundai Sonata, the tires were not completely bald, but definitely “balding,” as George Costanza insisted. He – the Hyundai guy, not George Costanza — recommended four new tires before too long, preferably right then. I should have listened.

But we always like to procrastinate, don’t we? Especially when a nominal $916 is at stake.

In Prescott, I only drove across the street to Trader Joe’s or about 6 blocks to the Walmart. Any journeys further than that, we took Mr. AG’s car.

And then I got the call. My 93-year-old Daddy had fallen in the middle of the night somehow and broken seven ribs.

My dear baby brother, who lives in the Twin Cities, only has a full-time nursing job, a mother-in-law in declining health, four kids and six grandkids (all of them in four or five different forms of athletics that need watching), so you can see that he was simply too lazy to pitch in. Haha. I kid. He had already been back and forth to the St. Cloud Hospital and Alexandria several times. Oh, did I mention he also had pneumonia? The big baby…

And so, as per the 5th Commandment about “Honoring Your Father and Mother so your days will be long in the land,” I made an emergency appointment to get the dang new tires on and took off as fast as I could get there. Which turned out to be pretty darn fast. Drove 700 miles the first day to Big Spring, Texas; the second day 960 miles to Ankeny, Iowa, and the last little tiny jaunt 400 miles from Iowa to my hotel in Alexandria.

Along the way, I had to pass a tractor-trailer with a pilot car fore and aft bearing signs saying “Wide Load.” Boy, what a terrible job that would be driving that aft car. Like the old saying about the sled dogs: “If you aren’t the lead dog, the scenery never changes.” Imagine many hundred miles tailgating a huge rig and seeing nothing else. Mad props to you, whoever does this job! And what was on the tractor-trailer, you ask? A SAND COLORED TANK! In fact, there were three of them in a row! And I thought, “Oh. My. God. The Paranoid Texan has finally ordered a tank off Amazon. I bet he’s going to get a snotty letter from the HOA if he leaves it in his driveway.”

In the past when I have made the journey back to Minnesota from Arizona, I have tried to glean and share several overarching lessons. Like: America is unbelievably beautiful; or, men are extremely helpful; or, depending on the kindness of strangers is good for restoring your trust in your fellow man. And, Flyover Land is anything but.

This time, I will leave you dear readers with just a couple of micro-lessons.

One, as referenced, git ‘er done promptly when something needs doing that could delay you in an emergency!

Two, do not wear new white jeans on a long car trip. I was drinking my fourth or fifth cup of coffee from my Adult Sippy Cup when I hit an unexpected bump and splashed coffee all over my white jacket and white jeans. At least it was tepid coffee and readily identifiable as coffee. Extremely ungood, but nothing compared to dripping a melted Dove Bar in the same general area, making me look like I had just had the world’s worst accident. And causing people in Love’s to wonder why that weird lady had a sweatshirt tied around her waist in front, on a 98 degree day. Oh well, I’ll never see any of them again.

Who could have guessed that a Dove Bar left in a hot car would explode upon being opened? Who could have known that the little Mexican restaurant in Esperanza, TX would take 45 minutes to make 2 enchiladas while the Dove Bar dissolved in the hot car?

Third micro-lesson: When you see a sign that says “Deer – 15 miles” do not relax your vigilance after the odometer tells you 15 miles have passed. It turns out that deer do NOT have little GPS systems that will prevent them from straying one foot beyond that 15 mile limit. Much like “Gun-Free” Zones do not prevent criminals from bringing guns into that zone and using them. It was night and I had been driving for 16 hours and was very tired. But in all my coffee- and chocolate-stained alertness, I felt I could let my guard down a little beyond that 15-mile perimeter. Not half a mile further down the road, I saw a poor dead doe by the side of the highway. Which gave me quite the second wind.

A few miles later, I saw the best sign of this trip. We weary travelers were in roughly the 47th construction zone on Hwy 35North, in single file down a bumpy narrow corridor with orange cones on the left side and oncoming traffic just beyond them, and a concrete barrier on the right. And the sign said, “Do not pass.” Good call. There was one of the few rules in my life that I felt no urge to violate, had it even been remotely possible.

So now I am in Alexandria supervising Daddy’s rehab for two weeks. I am astonished and thrilled to report that I witnessed his Occupational Therapist give him a 30-point cognitive test on which he scored – wait for it – THIRTY!! Way to go, Daddy. Prayers welcome from any and all faith traditions for a complete recovery for him and safe travels home for your intrepid, if messy, columnist.

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