Monday April 21st, 2008 - Chicago, IL
Just when I thought there were no new ways to suffer I had a whole scenario play out at the end of the day today that could be made into a movie script. The question is whether it would be a comedy or a horror flick. The fates seemed to feel a need to torture me today.
Mondays are the longest days of my week. I get up very early to catch a train to Chicago to be on WLS with Jerry Agar in the morning. Then I return by 3pm only to have to drive right back into the city to host the showcase at Zanies on Wells Street. That’s a full day.
On the way home from Zanies tonight I got stuck in one of the nastiest traffic situations I have ever been in and that’s saying a lot. The Edens Expressway headed north is already being carved up like Michael Jackson’s nose and is down from four lanes to two which is a huge pain in the asphalt for everybody who lives in the northern suburbs. Like ME.
There was a spectacular rollover accident involving a semi and a minivan that shut the whole road down for two hours. The semi had a tanker trailer full of water that spilled on the highway apparently and it happened under an overpass and it damaged the bridge too.
I don’t think I have ever seen anything like it before and I happened to be about a half a block behind it so I was trapped for the long haul. Nobody knew what it was at first so we kept our engines running thinking it was just construction delays or something. Wrong.
I turned on my radio to the traffic report on WBBM and of course there were NO places anywhere within fifty miles of Chicago that had any kind of problem except right where I was and had I not stopped to give another comedian a ride home I’d have easily missed it.
But I didn’t. So I sat. And sat. And sat some more. Five minutes became fifteen became an hour. My patience for these situations has always been low and I sat there trying not to blow a gasket because there wasn’t a damn thing I could do except sit and wait this out.
I’d been up since 5am and neither the radio nor the comedy show had gone particularly the way I wanted it to and I just wanted to get home and get some sleep. I was still feeling sick and I hadn’t had a chance to eat dinner so I was also hungry and wanted to stop for a quick bite and then take some medicine and get some rest. I wasn’t planning on a delay.
But that’s what I got. It was something I guess I needed to experience and I can’t figure out exactly why. I sat there tired and frustrated and hungry and sick and low on patience and watched police car after police car after ambulance after rescue vehicle after anything else with a siren plow through the closed off construction lanes and it got to be a show.
I wasn’t close enough to see any potential disemboweled victims or bloody gore so that made it even more frustrating. It’s funny how any compassion for victims goes away in a situation like this. Hundreds if not thousands of stranded cars all have drivers that are not sympathetic to anything other than how this whole big ugly mess is making ME late.
I must admit that I was in that mindset too. I was low on gas and wasn’t sure how long I could last just sitting there idling but I didn’t want to shut the car off only to have to crank it right back up again. Nobody knew how long it would take to clean this up since nobody could see how bad the accident was. I could tell it was bad by the number of ambulances.
As I sat there with nothing to do but think it reminded me once again of how my whole life has gone. Last week when the train broke down I had the same feeling of helplessness and it wasn’t fun then either. I guess I need to keep experiencing this feeling for whatever reason but I still can’t figure out exactly why. If there’s a lesson to be learned I missed it.
Last week I wasn’t prepared to sit for two hours at a strange train station in the middle of the afternoon and tonight I was even less prepared to have to sit in my car as all of my gas and patience ran out waiting for some accident that wasn’t my fault to get cleaned up.
That was the first hour. The second hour is when it really got interesting. By then I was ready to have a heart attack. My stress level was redlining and I didn’t care if any of those people were alive or dead, I just wanted them out of my way. Everyone else felt the same way and we were all ready to move on but there was no place to go. We were all trapped.
I was stuck next to another semi and had to listen to that grinding engine sound for the entire time and that added to the stress level. Then nature took over. I had been drinking a few waters and a Mountain Dew earlier to keep me awake for my long day and now those had completed the cycle and I needed to hit the head but there wasn’t one. I had to hold it.
That also added to the tension. Then I had to take a big nasty dump and I can’t think of any cute clever way to say that after sitting in my car for two hours. It got so bad I started rocking back and forth in my seat hoping to not soil myself in my own car. It was torture. Then to make it even worse the smell of freshly dead skunk wafted through the evening.
It was one thing after another and I thought people were going to start killing and eating each other like in the plane crash in the Andes Mountains. I could feel the impatience not only with me but with everyone else too. Horns were honking and people were not happy.
Then finally traffic started to inch forward. Two lanes had to be condensed into one and we started to slowly slalom through the debris under the overpass. There was an idiot that tried to gun it and about six state troopers pulled their guns and stopped him. It was a very tense scene as they yelled at him to slow down and of course he was directly ahead of me.
There was no kidding around with those guys and they held the driver back and told his passengers to get out of the car. I was next and they barked out orders on how I needed to drive and where I needed to go and I didn’t joke around with any of them. I followed their instructions and slowly wove through the obstacle course of mangled metal and car parts.
After finding a place to empty my bladder and bowels I grabbed a quick meal at a diner on my way and I arrived home at 2:40am. It could be worse. At least I don‘t drive a truck.