Once, I was home for a break (summer of ’05, as I recall it) and I was driving the car to Ann Arbor to see some friends. This ended like it usually did: with my trust Volvo breaking down and having to be towed to Corky’s. My mechanic knew me not because he was that good (although he certainly was) but because between our two cars, we seemed to be constantly in his shop.
Anyways, on this particular day, there was something wrong with the car that was going to take all day to fix, and I was left stuck in the waiting area, no book in my purse (which was usually the case, but as this got heavy, and I recently has spent a semester trekking too much crap around the Netherlands and surrounding Europe, I had left my book at home.)
I ended up sitting in that waiting room, calling everyone I knew to chat, until my phone was near death, and reading copies of car magazines from the 1990s. That three hour wait turned me into a firm believer in always carrying reading material on my person.
On Tuesday, when Jeff and I went to vote, I waited outside the polling place, reading National Geographic’s latest magazine on Greenland. Frequently, I find myself random places, waiting for someone or something, reading a bit of NatGeo here, a few pages of my book club book there. Yes, I have an iPhone, but reading the news doesn’t always get me through that tap, tap, tap period of “Where are they? Are they coming? Do I need to call someone?” No, reading something real will always take me away, not caring if they are coming, hoping secretly they are not, so I can keep reading about Greenland or Buddha or the knitting group.
So this morning, when Jeff turned the key and the engine said politely, “No, thank you, I think I’d just as much like to stay off today,” I was prepared. After we were sure it wasn’t just a jump we needed (because we have a neighbor who will at the drop of a hat come out and move her car to help us out, thank you Corelyn for helping us out after I barged into your home at an unreasonable hour) Jeff called AAA. Sure, I was at home. I could have gone upstairs (which I did to check rental car prices) and put makeup on, finished drying my hair, watched a little TV, made some eggs, or generally paced the living room, waiting for the battery guy to show up.
Instead, I plopped myself on the stoop, tried to sit lady-like (“The ONE day the car breaks down, I have to be wearing a DRESS!” I exclaimed to Jeff, after trying to sit comfortably without revealing anything) and read about Greenland. “Did you know that the Inuits traveled to Greenland, migrating northeast? You always hear about people going the other way…” I exclaimed to Jeff. Well, you learn something new every day. So, after the battery guy came, fixed the terminal connection, told us we’d better replace the one we have, and we were on our way to work, I was that much more knowledgeable, and very calm. And, is there a better way to start a work day than late but educated and caffeinated? I think not.
Corelyn’s car pulled up next to ours. Trying to jump it…