Wednesday, April 06, 2011

Marriage 301, Lecture 400: My name is Inigo Montoya


I have a pretty good idea of what my death will look like if I am in a black pickup truck borrowed from our friends Stephen and Leigh and SH skids and drives up over a curb. I have a pretty good idea of what SH's death will look like if I am in a black pickup truck borrowed from our friends Stephen and Leigh and SH skids and drives up over a curb.

A sudden death by borrowed black pickup truck will look a lot like any sudden stressful incident SH and I encounter together: SH will go straight to panic mode and then to Engineer Deconstruct What Happened and Assign Blame and I will calmly watch and try to think of ways to solve the problem, not caring what the source of the problem is.

An example of typical reactions:

We were driving to the airport on a Saturday morning and encountered traffic we did not expect near the state fairgrounds. It was not state fair time. It was late fall and we had dropped off SH's Corvair, which now lives in our garage for free, thank goodness, at its winter home in the extra garage slot behind a small apartment building. From there, we were going to the airport and we were not on our usual route.

When we encountered the traffic, SH

1. panicked that we would be late
2. pounded the dashboard (well, symbolically, anyhow)
3. wondered loudly why, why, WHY? was there traffic on a Saturday morning?
4. WHY?????????
5. was there something going on at the fairgrounds?
6. was there an accident on the highway?
7. were the traffic lights broken?
8. was there a corpse in the road?
9. WHY????

When we encountered traffic, I

1. suggested we take a different route

Different styles. Different approaches. I do not care why the problem exists. I just want to eliminate it. SH wants to solve the puzzle. It's a good thing he's the engineer and not I. My guess is that most engineering problems cannot be solved by the liberal dispensation of chocolate whereas most of the business problems I faced could.

Back to our near-death experience.

Our Memphis friends Stephen and Leigh lent us their little black pickup truck so we would not have to rent a car while we were in town.

How did we repay them?

We wrecked their truck.

Well, not exactly "wrecked," but we did not return it to them in the condition it was when we got it.

Shame on us.

On the way to the Bosco's beer tour, we skidded as we went around a corner on a slick street. Trucks with nothing in the bed handle differently from a small car with snow tires. It didn't help that SH was already annoyed that the exit he had planned to take was not there. I had told him he couldn't get to that exit from highway 240 after Union, but he didn't believe me because I only lived in Memphis for eight years and google maps told him he could take that exit.

Oh google why must you lie? When my mother drove from Colorado to Memphis to see me, I told her how to get to my house from the highway. I gave her explicit instructions, instructions that she ignored to her peril and to her arriving three hours late, which had me almost calling the highway patrol. I am going to get that woman a cellphone.

When she arrived, she showed me the three-ring binder where she had placed the google maps of every place she planned to visit.

I pointed out that the map to my house did not include the fact that the Madison exit was CLOSED BECAUSE OF CONSTRUCTION which was why I had given her very clear non-Madison exit directions to get to my house.

The truck skidded. SH tried to correct but the back swung around hard and we went up over the curb.

SH was panicking and cussing.

I was thinking, Well this might be where I die. Either I'll die or I won't die. I'll know in a minute. If I die, then I will find out if there is a heaven.

I did not say a word.

SH turned to me. "Oh s***! Oh s***! Oh s***!"

I thought, If I die and there is a heaven, I sure hope SH and I get there.

The truck stopped, the front wheels on the median and the back wheels on the road.

Well this was a nasty situation.

But - reverse worked. SH got us off the curb. The truck seemed to drive fine. We got to Bosco's a minute before the tour started - SH doesn't care about being late to a haircut but he is very worried about being late to a beer factory tour - and examined the left front wheel, which was the one that had gone over the curb first and far faster than you want to go up a curb, even with a truck.

There was a scratch on it. No dents, but scratches.

I tried to comfort SH. "If the worst thing that happens to us is that we have to pay to repair this truck, that's not too bad."

But engineers hate to make mistakes, so he was not happy.

We got into the tour. And, as happened in almost every place we went during our four days in Memphis, I saw someone I knew. Two friends of Stephen and Leigh were also on the tour. I said hi. They said, How's the truck? We were going to borrow it this weekend.

I explained we had wrecked it.

They said, Oh you have no IDEA what that truck has been through! Don't worry!

Stephen and Leigh said the same thing. Don't worry! Don't worry!

But we insisted that they let us know if problems developed so we could pay for the repair.

And I still wonder if there is a heaven.

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