with Lorelle and Brent VanFossen

Almost Worst Day of My Life – Day from Hell – Greensboro, North Carolina

I don’t know why you all enjoy these journal entries from us. You all must be sadists or something. So many of you seem to enjoy my sufferings. Well, not all. Many of you commiserate with us very well. So here is the rest of my Day from Hell.

Graphic of bicycleI got my bike out of the truck, no problem. Helmet on, I was dressed like an idiot in long pants as it was really cold this morning. But the sun is now up and while it is cool for most people, for a Washingtonian, it’s HOT. I ride off towards the big mall, about six or eight blocks away. I assume, since I’ve had some “mall” experience, that the movie theater is in the back, where most malls tend to keep them. I didn’t see it on a previous visit in front of the mall, so it must be in back or inside, right? I ride up a steep hill (it’s a three story mall on a hill, so you enter on the first floor from the front and the third floor from the back.) looking for the movie theatre and can’t find it. So I chain the bike near Belks (a Southeastern department store chain), deciding to take time to exchange some clothing I got there last week which didn’t work, planning to check the directory for the theater location, too.

While exchanging the item, I dug through my backpack, unable to find the receipt. I must have forgotten it in all the truck fuss. I told her I had charged it on my credit card. I handed it to her to put the return on it and she informed me, with a smile, of their unusual policy. They only give cash refunds when there is no receipt. They won’t credit it to the card. HUH? It’s for security reasons. SECURITY? Well, mine is to only doubt what is and question it later. She tells me all she needs is my driver’s license. I hand it to her, flummoxed with the strange reasoning I’ve been finding so often in North Carolina. She can’t find the number so I take it back and read it to her. She wants the expiration date so I read it, “5-14-98”. She raises her eyes and gives me THE LOOK. The look like I’m stupid. So I give her the LOOK back. I don’t know what her LOOK is about but I know the evidence I have for being justified in handing out LOOKS of my own. She weakly smiles, “A little late, huh?” (Excuse me, I translated that. In Carolinian, she actually said, “Uh leettle lahet, uh?”) I didn’t understand what she was saying until I looked at my driver’s license again and all the pieces fell into place.

I’ve been driving around with an expired license. Lovely. I can’t even remember the last time I looked. I always got notes from Washington DMV to remind me to renew before, and I had got nothing. Great. One more thing to deal with. I explain we’ve been traveling a lot lately (ha!) and that this is new news to me. She gives me a piece of paper and tells me that she can’t, again for security reasons, give the money directly to me. I have to go up a couple floors to the service desk and get it. She tells me to have a good day and off I go, wondering where the good in the day has already gone, to wait in line, knowing I’m going to be late for the movie. Without any questions, I get my money back, in cash. The lady there also wished me a good day. “Sure, right,” I think.

Out in the mall, the directory tells me that the movie theater is not only OUTSIDE the mall, it is way out on the far side. I can’t just circle the mall to it from where my bike is as there is just a three story staircase there. I have to ride all the way back around, in the 95 degree heat and 100% humidity wearing long pants, to the other side of the mall and across the front to the side of the mall that I am so close to. Oh, well. I glance at my watch, which is leaving red welts of sweat on my wrist. I figure I have just enough time to get something to eat in the mall before racing off on my bike again.

I head for food and get my absolute favorite splurge, a yogurt icee blend of banana, coconut, strawberries and other goodies. HMMMMMMM. Ice cold. Carrying my ice cold drink, I look for something easy to eat on the bike and decide on two egg rolls. The oriental man behind the counter sincerely asks me how my day is going. I tell him it is horrible. He poo poos me and tells me that it’s going to get better because it is a FINE day. I smile cynically, thinking, yeah, well, you know, it can’t get worst. I tell him it can only get better, and he walks me right to the register to take my money, telling me, in very positive terms, that it is a glorious day and he promises me that it will not only get better, it will be wonderful. I ask him to start praying for me then.

I munch one of the egg rolls as I head out of the mall. While unlocking my bike, my drink, minus only two sips, crashes to the ground and explodes, covering me, the bike and the ground with yoghurt icee. GREAT. My head is now pounding, sweat is running down my back and legs, my hair is sticky, and I have nothing to drink. I clean up as best I can with little paper napkins covered with grease from the egg rolls. I get on my bike and ride through the hot traffic almost 360 degrees from where I am to the movie theater.

I rush in, knowing I’m late, and buy a ticket. She says, “Enjoy the movie” in a strange way. I glance up at the sign with the movie times to find the at 2pm. I glance at my watch and it is 12:30. It felt like 5:00 PM. Great. I’m like REALLY early. They have some chairs and tables so I plant myself, pull out my book, and sit in their air conditioning and read. Finding the moment to contemplate relaxation, I can’t really relax after everything that’s happened so far today. I just sit there and vibrate in one spot for an hour and a half.

graphic of movie filmAfter a delightful escape into movie-dom, I came out of the theater, a little refreshed, anxious about the truck and eager to get back and find out what is going on. I stop in the bathroom, and make the mistake of looking in the mirror. The entire right half of my right eye is filled with blood. It’s not bleeding, just bloody all under the surface. I freak.

I grab the pay phone outside and call Brent, crying. I tell him to call Firestone and find out what is going on with the truck and to get one of his friends at work to drive him there. If I am not there when he gets there, I will be at the mall at the optical place we had spotted on our first visit there. Brent is due to get his eyes checked, so it stuck in our memory. I got on my bike and raced across the intensely hot pavement in the afternoon heat to the mall.

graphic of my damaged eyeThey managed to get me in right away to see the doctor. He was wonderful, saying all the right things to calm me down. It seems that I’ve broken a blood vessel on the surface. No pain, and the inner eye looks fine. It’s fairly common and can be caused by anything and nothing. Lifting something heavy, coughing too hard, getting something in your eye, or just breathing. I remembered choking and coughing hard on the cigarette smoke coming out of the creep who I wouldn’t let wash my dog let alone work on my truck that morning and blamed that. Well, it was something to blame and the creepy mechanic deserved every disrespect I could give him for his horrible setup and attitude. The doctor assured me that my eye would be fine and told me to relax and enjoy the rest of my day. I just shook my head and said, “Yeah, right.”

I paid the bill and his staff of three also wished me a good day. I told them it had been hell so far and they assured me it couldn’t get worst. Right. Little do they know. But then again, it has been getting worse and worse with every hour, so maybe I was due for an uphill slide in the odds.

I glanced at the clock and I realized that in a few minutes, Brent will leave work and head for the truck. Confident enough to let him deal with the details, I decide to ride back slowly, taking the doctor’s advice, and even planned a stop off to explore a Pier 1 store, one of my favorites, on my bike ride back. It’s air conditioned, so it would be a good, cool place to pause along the way.

I arrive, sweat rolling off of me, soaking the back of my shirt and drenching my hair, eager to get in the cool air. I put down the kick stand and grab my bag and pull my helmet off my soaked head. As I turn towards the store, a huge explosion and crash cuts through the air in the street behind me.

I recognized the sound and swore. I turned around and raced through the parking lot, abandoning my bike, towards the two white cars just finishing their spin to a stop. I toss down my bag and helmet and run to the first driver as the spectators start zeroing in. She’s okay, but she took a serious beating from the air bag. Her lips are swollen and she is showing the marks which will lead to a swollen chin and welts on her chest where the air bag smacked the hell out of her head and chest, embedding her necklace filled with charms against her throat. With the help of a young man, I yank her bent car door open and check her for injuries. Other than the surface stuff, and a bloody lip and teeth, she’s fine, but heading into shock. Smoke starts to fill the car, and while I know it’s from the air bag gas, a glance at the engine tells me that it is now a good foot closer to the inside of the car than it is supposed to be. It’s smarter to get her out of the car as I notice the back, where the gas tank is, is also bashed up and fluid is leaking out everywhere. I check her again and order the young man to help her out and to the sidewalk.

I turn around and find people starting to mill around so I order two people to start directing traffic and another to call 911 and turn to the other driver, another young woman whose driver’s door is now a good six to ten inches closer to the driver’s seat that it should be. Through the door, I check her out. Her air bag didn’t release, but her side window shattered all over her and she was covered with glass, little fragments every where. I checked her neck, which she said ached but she had full movement, and her arms, and she appeared to be fine. I glanced back and the smoke from the other car, not three feet behind me, was now billowing out the windows. Safety is first, so I looked around and saw no one was near so I wrenched the door off its hinges and slowly helped her out and across the street, keeping her hands away from her glass covered face.

From there, I went between the two girls, checking them. The first girl bounced in and out of shock, so I kept people around her to keep her sitting down. The other girl managed to dig a makeup brush out of her purse, and I set about getting really friendly as I gently brushed the micro fragments of glass off her face and chest. I just knew she would start crying soon and rubbing her face and eyes, and the last thing we needed was glass in there.

Finally the cops, fire truck and ambulance showed up. I convinced both girls to go to the hospital. One was willing, but the other one, in shock, put up a struggle. She was so worried about what someone would say about the damage to the car. Why do people worry about such silliness. It’s just a car, and dealing with the swelling around her face and chest from the air bag smashing was more important. The second girl I knew would be in serious pain from whiplash and seat belt neck burn, not to mention all the glass. They finally got in the ambulance and I retrieved my stuff and headed back to Pier 1.

Now, it would have been my luck to find my bike stolen, as I hadn’t locked it, intending to watch it through the glass windows, but it was fine. Ah, one good thing! I went into the store, cool with air conditioning. Two minutes later, glancing at my watch, I realized I was still vibrating from the crap of the day and questioned my reason for stalling. I left immediately and rode straight to Firestone.

Upon arrival, I was told it was all done, no charge. I told the mechanic thanks and that he would not believe the day from hell I had. He told me he’d had days like that and I laughed. I don’t think so, I told him. You just wouldn’t believe it. “Well, the truck is all fixed, so something turned out right. It’ll get better now.”

Right. I went in and got my “no charge” receipt and the manager walked me out, also reassuring me that everything was alright now and that things would get better. I told him about the accident and he was stunned. He could see the blood in my eye, which I had almost forgotten about, and he advised me that “it couldn’t get worst.” I laughed, telling him that I was going to drive around to the front and wait for my husband to arrive. I wanted to the day to be over and I thanked him for his work on the truck. “Pardon me if I tell you that I really don’t want to see you again,” I told him, and he laughed. “It will be a better day!” he promised.

graphic of a bicycleI walked my bike to the back of the truck and put down the kick stand so I could remove my bags and then put the bike in the back – and the kick stand flew off. I hadn’t hit it very hard. It just broke into a bunch of pieces and scattered across the parking lot. I laughed. I screamed. I cried. The manager came rushing out, saw the parts all over the ground and my bike against the truck and didn’t know whether to laugh or cry with me. “I broke it. I don’t believe it.” He helped me put the bike in the back and I told him I was going to drive the truck around to the front and wait for my husband, who should be here in a few minutes.

“I don’t even want to risk driving this thing anywhere. I just know I’ll crash it or something. I don’t want to risk any more lives!” He laughed and agreed with me that it would be probably safer. Then he gave me that look, and I knew what he was going to say. “NO, YOU DON’T!” I ordered. “Don’t tell me what kind of day I’m going to have. I don’t want to HEAR IT!” He laughed, keeping his mouth shut.

Stay tuned for Part III.

If I traveled to the end of the rainbow
As Dame Fortune did intend,
Murphy would be there to tell me
The pot’s at the other end.
Bert Whitney

Post a Comment

Your email is kept private. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.