{ Sunday, September 18, 2005 }

"I'm sure we'll be home before... Christmas."

Ten am, Sunday morning. Steady wants to go out to breakfast. I suggest we go ahead and do the weekly grocery shopping while we're out, just to get it out of the way. He concurs. We take showers and get dressed and head out.

So, we drive twenty minutes to the specific restaurant where he wanted to get breakfast. We wait fifteen minutes for a table. We have breakfast. It is good.

Then, I remembered that I needed to get the pictures off of my digital camera and send them to one of my coworkers before first-thing Monday morning (I do not get to work "first-thing" in the morning), and I left the camera on my desk. No problem, we're half way there, we'll just swing by and get it real quick.

Got the camera. Now on to the grocery. We live a long way from all of the grocery stores, so lately we've been shopping around looking for the one we like best. We were headed to Whole Foods, twenty minutes in the other direction from work. Forty minutes later, as Steady was asking if the grocery store was in Mexico, we arrived.

We shopped. Everything was coming along nicely. We got all the groceries into the trunk when someone said "Hey, you have a flat tire." This was now three pm.

I did, in fact, have a very flat tire. I called AAA. "Seventy-five minutes." said the nice lady on the phone. "We have to change it ourselves," I said to Steady. So, we moved the groceries to the back seat and got out the spare and the accessories. It took a couple tries, but we figured out the car jack and then we attempted to get the lugnuts off.

I totally stood on that wrench thing and they did not budge. Steady stood on it. Nothing. We pulled on it together. They were not moving. We were gonna have to wait. No big deal, we just have a car full of groceries and it's only 100*F outside...

Step one, put all the cold and frozen groceries into one bag and surround it with the other bags for insulation.

Step two, Steady informs me that I am sitting in the sun. He hands me a black blazer to drape over the window...

Step three, It's time to build a fort!!

I keep a lot of sweaters and blazers in my car, because my office is cold and my commute is not. I began climbing around the driver's side of the car, rolling clothes up in the windows and finding new and interesting ways to drape them in the gaps. I blocked out most of the direct sun.

THEN I had a real moment of inspiration and took the floor mats and propped them up in the back window using bags of cat litter.

I'm sure you can imagine the way that people looked at us, sitting in the running hatchback with half the windows blocked, in the parking lot of the fancy grocery, with a flat tire and out of state plates.

Another moment of inspiration came when I decided to sit in the back seat with the groceries. That way it looked like Steady and I were sitting in our fort waiting for someone to come out the store since the driver's seat was empty. The faces we were getting did not always have the "Oh! Flat tire!" moment of recognition. (They stayed the quizzical face of "What are those two idiots doing? Is this some sort of joke? Is there a camera here?" instead. This way we looked more silly and less outright strange.)

Naturally, for your sake, I made my boyfriend take a picture commemerating this moment in my life...

grocery store madness.

I called my mother. My stepfather answered. "Is there any special trick to getting the tire off?" His answer was to stand next to the car and ask big men if they wanted to "unscrew my nuts." My mother suggested acting like my grandma and chasing men through the parking lot. She seemed to think it would be funnier if I chased them while brandishing the tire wrench.

After I admitted that my boyfriend was with me, and actually he couldn't get it off either, they both concurred that it had obviously been put on with an electric wrench thing (they knew the real term) and was not for removal by people without power tools.

Then, they also suggested going into the grocery store, buying several cans of air and reinflating the tire as many times as it took to get to the nearest tire store. Steady and I nixed that plan since we didn't think Whole Foods would have canned air.

Finally, the nice man from AAA showed up. He yanked off the lugnuts quite easily. He actually turned to Steady and asked him if he's had his Wheaties today. It was not a great moment for my boyfriend (who goes to the gym five days a week and takes a rowing class the other two.)

After the standard warnings about not driving too far, not driving on the freeway, &c, we were finally moving. It was now 4:30 in the afternoon.

Lalala. We're driving... and then, we weren't anymore.

Oh yes, we hit stadium traffic. Our side of the road was going to go down to one and then zero lanes. Naturally.

Steady: "Do you think we could tell which team won by the faces of the people walking by?"
mary: "No, I think this far from the stadium they're all gonna look like it's the Trail of Tears. It's too hot outside to tell."

mary: "Do those people look happy? Maybe their team won."
Steady: "Hmm...I don't know."
mary: "They're probably just happy because they have Gatorade."

I have rules about traffic jams and merging traffic. One car from one lane, then one car from the other. I feel like most people know this rule. The people who were trying to merge? Did not.

My boyfriend did not think that I would actually enforce this rule. He seemed to think it was very funny that I would let one car go and then stay on its ass so the next car back couldn't get over in front of me. There's being nice (letting one car over) and then there's being taken adventage of (letting all the cars over).

We drove several miles out of our way (due to detours), but it did only take us another HOUR to get home... only one grocery bag broke on the way upstairs, and the elevator was running...

posted by mary ann 5:51 PM