It’s perhaps a little-known fact that the professor matches me in unrelenting stubbornness.(Though it does explain our willful progeny.) He had made up his mind that he was going to complete that third day of driving and end up in Indiana, if it killed him. And I didn’t stand a chance of convincing him otherwise.
Though I balked, loudly, at the calculated 4am arrival time.
Fortunately we had left the car clock on Calgary time which was utterly confusing most of the time, but came in handy for this particular leg of the trip. Because I go to bed rather late on a regular basis. Perhaps not 4am, but 2am? I’ve seen that hour of the morning plenty of times.
So we pretended it was two hours earlier. ‘Man, it’s only [two hours earlier than what it actually was]’ the professor would announce periodically. As if his false joviality was somehow compensating for the fact that we were tired and had been driving (trapped in the car) for three full days.
When he got ultra desperate, he would say ‘well, that was a fun visit to [whatever town we’d just exited]. It sure was good to see Pam and Jim, though they kind of seemed to be at each other’s throats.’
I rolled my eyes and returned my attention to the laptop where I was doing my bleary-eyed best to decipher words like ‘instantiation’, ‘algorithm’, ‘parametric’ ‘imbricated’ and ‘discretized’.
For the love of clarity.
We were driving eastbound along I-74. In the dark. Out of nowhere, a brown object appeared – lying in the middle of the highway. The professor swerved as I looked up from my screen.
With adrenaline pumping (and possible disaster narrowly averted), we kept going. Less than two minutes later, another large object in the middle of the highway. It was a large brown box, the kind used in moving households. The professor swerved again. And we kept going.
And then it happened again. I was incensed. ‘That’s it, we have to call someone.’ Even though I’d probably have to pay $10 for the phone call thanks to those awesome roaming charges from my cheap cell phone.
So I did something I’d never done in my whole life. I called 911.
‘What’s your emergency,’ the operator barked when she finally picked up after seven rings. ‘Um, it’s really more of a highway issue,’ I tried to diffuse the situation so she knew my life wasn’t completely at risk, ‘who should I call?”
‘What’s the problem,’ she continued. And I explained where we were, and told her about the large brown moving boxes lying in the middle of the highway in the black of night.
‘Okay, I’ll ask a state trooper to check it out,’ and I hung up. Ten dollars poorer, but proud of my civic accomplishment. If I’d saved even one person’s life, it was well worth my inflated cell phone bill.
Around 1 or 2am, we stopped at a gas station to fill up for the homestretch. I surveyed the Circle K coffee offerings and settled on a ‘hazelnut cappuccino’. I figured it might keep me awake until we got to my sister’s house. I was about to pay when the professor walked inside the convenience store. Carrying a baby.
‘Look who’s awake,’ he chirped, handing me one disgruntled Percy.
So Percy and I hung out in the evening air, by the gas pumps, while the professor settled our account inside. And the gas clerk stared at us as if it was unusual to hang out at a gas pump with a baby in the wee hours of the morning.
Around 4.30am (a very respectable 2.30 Calgary time), our journey concluded as we pulled into the darkened driveway belonging to my sister.