Thursday, March 5, 2009

Chapter 1, Part 4 - The Drive Down

Two years ago Dad got lost on the I-295 bypass loop around Richmond, Virginia (or actually off the loop since he never quite made it onto the loop). Dad didn’t think he should venture off I-95, even though the bright green, oversized highway signs for the bypass were clearly marked for points south. (As an aside, it actually used to say ‘To Miami, FL’ on these signs, so people would know not to take I-95, which takes you through the middle of downtown Richmond. But the powers that be at the Virginia Department of Transportation obviously thought signs for a Florida city weren’t necessary that far north, as they have since covered up those signs. Clearly, none of them have elderly parents making a yearly drive to Florida.) So Dad stayed on I-95. Leaving the Northeast at about 9:00 in the morning with a stop for lunch puts you in Richmond right around the afternoon rush hour. Now I understand that rush hour in Richmond isn’t the same as rush hour in, say, Mom and Dad’s native New York City, but it is rush hour nonetheless. So big, brave Dad who minutes earlier didn’t want to venture off I-95 now finds himself in downtown city traffic and decides he’s going to get off 95 and find a shortcut. Let me repeat that. Dad…who has never driven in the city of Richmond before…is going to find…a shortcut.

Now, I believe there are people in this world who can do that – find a shortcut in a city they have never been to before. Let me assure you, Dad is not one of them. To Dad, shortcut becomes ‘scenic route,’ and ‘scenic route’ is usually through the worst part of town. When Dad drives through a bad part of town he always does the same thing. He screams “Lock All Doors!” and Mom puts her hand with the generous-sized diamond ring on it below window level. By the time Dad is done with his shortcut, he has usually added a good 45 minutes or more to his trip. No problem. Dad will do 85 again once he reaches the highway to ‘make time.’

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