Thursday, August 6, 2009

The Commute: Round II

While writing my previous post about rampaging elephants and slaying dragons I had little idea what adventures lay in store for me the following day. What follows is my account of the events that transpired on that day. (This story is actually true. :D)

I awoke earlier than normal. It was raining outside, which was no surprise, and that meant it was nice and cloudy. The perfect day to sleep in right? Wrong. I was scheduled to work at 11 so, rather begrudgingly, I got up and bathed myself so as to look (and smell) presentable. After my cleanliness was insured I shuffled my way into the kitchen, eyelids still heavy, to make myself some breakfast. By "make myself some breakfast" I, of course, mean "grabbed whatever took the least amount of time / effort to enter my stomach". The radio was on in the adjacent room, but I was paying little attention. I heard a sports update followed by a weather forecast. I didnt hear it because my phone rang and I was too busy trying to think about who could be calling me this early in the morning. I received two phone calls that morning, from both my Mom and Dad, each sounding concerned in their own way, telling me to drive carefully while on my daily commute to work. They mentioned something about not driving through high water and watching out for pooling water on the freeways. I was too engrossed in my cereal to really comprehend any of this.

As it always does, the time came for me to leave for work. I thought I would leave a little early so as to avoid being late due to the inevitable traffic. Everything seemed in order as I made the first leg of my journey. The roads were wet, which made perfect sense because when it rains things (roads) tend to get wet. I saw no evidence of high water or pools in the road. This continued for the next twenty minutes or so, thats when things started to change for the worse. I merged onto interstate 65 (which is, for future reference, a five, sometimes, six lane freeway) and continued toward my destination. As I got closer to my exit I noticed one of our fancy digital signs (which never get used other than to greet people entering our fair city or reminding me to buckle up) telling me that Arthur St was closed because the road was impassable due to flood water. "Flood water?" I thought "did it really rain that much?" My answer was just around the corner. Its a good thing the sign warned me about the exit being closed because I was ready for what came next. Brake lights, as far as I could see. Needless to say I got out of there as fast as I could.

After taking several side roads to various places Ive never been I ended up down by UofL. Thats when I started to realize what was really going on. There is a bridge, of sorts, on Eastern Parkway that takes you up and over part of the facilities at the university, the other side of the bridge being tantalizingly close to where I work. The traffic was moving slowly up the bridge which gave me an opportunity to look around. I couldnt see over the side of the bridge completely, but I could see enough. Below me I saw nothing but water where there would have normally been grass and several walkways leading to different buildings on campus. I could see the tops of lamp posts and trees but other than that there was just water. Brown, murky, presumably smelly water. It was at that point I realized I couldnt continue on my current course since the road ahead was covered with water as well. This became a far-too-frequent occurrence over the next hour as I tried to find a route around the water to my place of employ. I took more roads and streets than I ever thought possible, but at every turn the roads would be impassable. Ive never seen anything like it. There were cars stalled and left everywhere you looked. Fire rescue vehicles, towing boats, screaming by. Police cars blocking intersections and redirecting traffic. It was (somewhat) controlled chaos.

I finally found a path through several tiny back roads and shady neighborhoods (Im not sure how I always end up in those). "Southern Parkway" was what I kept hearing from my co-workers as the best route to take to get in. I dont know how it happened, but I ended up there. Excited, and somewhat angry at this point, I headed north toward the city. I began to recognize my surroundings and knew I was getting close. Thats when things started to go even more wrong. I looked down at the speedometer while sitting at a stoplight only to notice that the "Volts" gauge for the battery was sitting on a rather discouraging "0". Only then did I notice the radio starting to fade and the engine lurching. "Youve got to be kidding me" I thought aloud (very aloud). The light turned green and I prayed that giving it some gas would at least get me to work, which was mere blocks away. This time my prayers went unanswered, or rather were answered with a resounding "No". I was now sitting in a stalled car in the middle of one of the busiest streets in the area. Luckily I saw a man walking toward me. Normally I would have been a little concerned at the sight of him. We'll call him "Johnny Camo-pants" as I never caught his name. Camo-pants helped me push the truck across the road to a nearby used car dealership. Camo-pants happened to know the owner of said dealership, so he went inside to see if he could give me a jump. Camo-pants and my new friend Eastern-European-used-car-dealership-owner (hereafter known simply as "EU") made their way out with magic jumper box in hand. EU hooked it up, I turned the key, and she started. Just as EU took the cables off and began to close the hood, however, the truck died again. "Its probably your alternator" EU said. Knowing little to nothing about cars I simply agreed, all the while Camo-pants was throwing in his two cents. EU told me I could leave the car there, and I thanked them both for their help.

Since my building was only a few blocks away, I decided I would walk. I cant say whether this was a good or bad decision, so youll just have to decide for yourselves. I would be walking up south 4th Street which really isnt the best neighborhood in the city. It didnt help matters, at least as far as I was concerned, that I was wearing my khakis and a polo and talking on my cell phone. The latter-most quickly stopped worrying me as everyone I saw was talking on cell phones. My journey up 4th Street quickly became a lesson in avoiding eye contact and looking like I didnt have a hundred dollar bill in my wallet. As I got closer to work there were more and more people out and about. Firetrucks were flying down the streets, their sirens blaring. The entirety of 4th was populated with parked cars, their impatient owners out of them and walking around trying to figure out what the hold up was. I was honestly waiting for the zombies to come tearing around the next corner, thats how unreal the scene was that I was witnessing.

I finally made it to my block and I saw what the trouble was. There is a viaduct just around the corner from my building the top of which, I would wager, is about twelve feet. Approximately six of those twelve feet were under water. The police had it blocked off and the traffic had nowhere to go because the road my building is on was also flooded. There were people yelling various obscenities both at people and the air. I walked down closer to the viaduct to snap a picture. My mission accomplished I walked down the sidewalk and into work a mere two hours late.

All in all I would label the day as an adventure. A stressful and frustrating adventure to be sure, but an adventure nonetheless. If I learned anything it would be this: no more listening to Tabitha when she chooses which way youll go home. Youll run into stampeding elephants, raging dragons, and be greeted by a flood the following day.



Leah said...

You left out the part about how long you've been carrying that $100 bill in your wallet!
You're quite the story teller!

Tabitha said...

I didn't tell you to go north last time now did i?
But love the tale, and you are right, there should have been zombies everywhere...

ps you left out "Tabitha text me, but i didn't believe her".