Wednesday, September 13, 2006

How Was Your Day?

I had a weird day about a month ago. I was driving to a meeting of a volunteer group that meets in a town about 40 minutes away. The way there is pretty rural, lots of cow and lettuce townlets and fields. I pass through this apparently deserted intersection, and all of a sudden -- as if via a cue in a movie -- there's a traffic jam, dozens of big rig trucks and cars converging on this set of three or four streets around a railroad crossing and a highway intersection. It was a sort of perfect storm of traffic -- everybody who was on that route that night somehow converted simultaneously or something. So I'm stuck in this minijam for long enough that I'm late to the meeting. About three minutes after I get there, just after I've shown somebody my CPR card, the leader of the group has a heart attack. (He survived, it was a little heart attack.) While he's waiting for the ambulance, the vice president decides to keep going with the agenda. Then on the way back, over another seemingly deserted railroad crossing close to a little airport, the crossing alarm comes down, gates closing, lights flashing, bells ringing. I sit there. And sit there. And sit there. And sit there. I get out of the car: look up the tracks, down the tracks. It's an utterly straight line, and there's just no train there. I know better than to try to cross the tracks against a signal, though, especially on a night when clearly there are ghosts about. I wait. And wait. After about 15 minutes it goes off and I cross the tracks. About ten seconds after I've crossed, the alarm goes off again and the signal sounds and the gates come down again. Then about ten minutes later, I'm going through this little farm town that has a couple of hundred houses, classic small one-story California bungalows, very cute, and I slow down to take a look at one that has a 'for sale' sign in front of it. In front of me about 50 feet ahead, a cat darts out of a side alley going hell for leather. If I hadn't slowed down I almost certainly would've smushed it. I start up again and have to jam a little on the brakes, because five seconds later a dog, going full blast and barking its head off, goes after the cat. Ah well I think dogs and cats. Then I start up again and then have to SLAM on the brakes to avoid hitting a man, running after the dog, in full confederate civil war uniform (no gun, but complete with the kepi hat and goateed beard). I inch forward, peer down the street down which they all three have run, and see not a sign of any of them. About ten minutes later, I'm heading around a bluff that rises up from the agricultural land, and on a pretty clear moonlit night I see a lone fog bank sort of drifting down the road in front of me. I drive right into it, only it's not a fogbank -- it's a cloud of some sort of flying insect, something I've never seen anywhere around here, so dense I can only see a few yards ahead of me and I have to slow down to a crawl. When I got home later, there was literally a cake of insect carcasses on my front grille and headlights; I had to use the wipers to wipe them off so I could see to get home in the first place.

No, this was not all a dream....tis a true story.