As indicated in the last post, there’s been some excitement here. Last Saturday, the day before I was to drive to Omaha to pick up Special Guest Star Patrick Weekes,* I powered down the driver’s side window of my 2005 Scion tc and it refused to go back up. In -2 degree weather. This was Not a Good Thing.
I managed to get an emergency loaner from the university car pool — and by emergency, I mean I called university security and they called maintenance and somehow, one of the wonderful business office staff met me at school at 6:30 Saturday night, despite the fact that her mother-in-law had just passed away.
I’m not going to retell the story of driving into the ditch off Hwy 20 in the cold, blowing snow of Sunday night — Patrick’s version is superlative. I will note, however, that the car I drove into the ditch was a university sedan (and I’m not tenured yet) and afterwards, I realized that, despite my panic, I steered into the skid. It didn’t make any difference in the outcome, but when I’m stuck in the snow with a visiting writer-and-friend who is recording everything that transpires in real-time by text messaging** a mutual friend in Austin, TX, I look for the bright side.
After we were pulled out of the snow by the capable and clean-mouthed Galen, I insisted on driving the rest of the way to Storm lake, despite the facts that I was really pretty shaken up by the ditch adventure and, between my crappy night vision and the blowing snow, I really couldn’t see the road more than 5 feet in front of us. Patrick offered to drive several times, but by then, finishing the journey I’d started almost 9 hours earlier had become A Matter of Pride. I was channeling Gene T. Schaechterle and was this close to laughing slowly. Siblings and other relatives will know what I mean. Had Patrick known, he’d have gotten out and hitchhiked — I was significantly more unbalanced than a highway-cruising serial killer by that point.
Patrick’s standing-room-only reading and his visit to my creative writing class were great. Better than great: funny and thought-provoking and memorable. But I’m not here to laud the multi-faceted and fabulous Patrick, I’m here to detail my car-related abuse of him.
The university loan of a sedan really was an emergency action — they needed the car back first thing Monday morning. So after picking up Patrick at the motel and teaching my 9 a.m. class, I force-marched him to my house to get my car (the one with the window sill stuck in the down position) through something like a -17 wind chill, with WIND being the operative word. Now, it should be noted that I offered to walk myself and let Patrick hang out in my office, but he insisted on coming. At first I thought it was because of chivalry, but then it turned out he’d misheard me and though my house was “a tenth of a mile” from the campus, rather than the “eight-tenths of a mile” it really is. At one point, he threatened that if I stopped to chat*** one more time, he’d split me like a tauntaun and crawl inside for the warmth. I’ll treasure that moment forever because, much as I like Storm Lake and my colleagues, I have no one to talk pop-culturese with.
After the walk, riding back to campus in a car with a window down was surprisingly comfortable.
Later that day, I had to rent a car (the school paid, of course) to drive to Omaha on Tuesday to return Patrick to the airport; the university had no available vehicles. So I loaded Patrick into my cool’n’breezy Scion and drove to the Ford dealership, which also rents cars at an exorbitant rate. Because the university was paying for the rental car, and because he’s not covered by university insurance, and because I’m not yet tenured, I made Patrick drive my (still broken-windowed) car back to my house, while I drove the fairly luxurious and fully-window-functioning rental car. I’m kind of a bitch that way.
Given the non-car-related success of Patrick’s visit, I’d like to invite him back in a few years. Do you think he’ll come? Will his wife let him?
By the way, my car window is still broken, although my friends Kathy and Mark did tape plastic on it for me. I have to drive 45 miles to get to the nearest Toyota dealership (I’m still on warranty). I was supposed to go yesterday, but I had a migraine. So it may give Patrick some cold comfort (get it? cold?) to know I have another week of chilly driving ahead of me.
*Writer. Father. Gamer. Game Writer. Vegetarian. Eczema Sufferer. Some Sort of Martial Arts Practitioner. Truly, the man is Some Things to Many People.
**I refuse to learn how to text message, myself. That’s step four of my 18-step program to becoming a fist-shaking, elderly grouch who yells “durn kids” and watches the “stories” on afternoon television.
***I was in a practically-a-sleeping-bag Land’s End down coat rated to -25. Not my fault he wore a measly nylon squall jacket. Obviously he didn’t respect the Iowa.