Traveling mercies

Two and one-half hours into what would normally be a 45-minute drive, I am at a standstill in bumper to bumper traffic in a snow & ice storm. I shift my Honda into park and tell myself I will not waste this time with impatience or complaint.
I imagine calling someone, anyone, but I've left my cellphone at home on the kitchen counter. Besides, I don't really like to talk on the phone; one reason why I often forget to bring it along.
I imagine making up stories, like a friend of mine does, but I'm no good at that. Would I be if someone had read me stories as a child?
Finally I settle on prayer. I thank God for anything and everything I can think of: for having been raised in the Midwest, where I learned to fill the gas tank and use the bathroom before heading home in a storm; for new tires, windshield wipers that work, and a cloud cover that keeps my favorite station in tune; for food and drink, should I need them, thanks to a stop at Costco; for road crews wherever they are; for friends, pets, family, my writers’ group (the reason I’m on the road today), health…
I scribble a message in pencil on a McDonald’s napkin: "908-496-xxxx. Tell Ed Marcia is OK. Stuck on 46. Will be home when traffic clears." I open my door, dash to the car in front of me, and knock on the driver's window.
“Do you have a cell phone?”
"Here." I thrust the napkin at a thirty-something guy. "Would you please call my husband?” He raises his hands in a sure-why-not gesture.
The driver of a car approaching from the opposite direction yells, “You guys are f----d! The Hackettstown hill is closed...turn around," he traces a U in the air. "Make a left at the light and another left at the stop sign. There's a back road...”
What the heck. Traffic is a mess anyway. I get into my car and, like the caller ahead of me, make a U-turn. At the light I turn left. There's a stop sign about a mile further down. The guy knows what he's talking about.
The road runs parallel to, then intersects, 46 at the crest of the Hackettstown Hill. The plows and salt trucks are finishing their work. After three traffic light changes, I turn right and descend the hill. An hour or so later I’m home.
“Did you get my message?” I ask Ed.
“What message?”
“The one I gave a guy in the car ahead of me. He said he'd call and give it to you.”
“Nope. No message.”
Hmm. Maybe he figured we'd both cleared 46, so... No matter. Just imagining it made the trip easier.

No comments: