All Hail Breaks Loose

Along my regular commute, there’s been a lot of construction of late. I’m not a fan of being stuck in traffic, especially on winding single-lane back roads with no shoulder. Such situations induce claustrophobia, and are to be avoided at all costs. A body of water separates the town I live in from the one I work in, forcing me to drive down one peninsula and back up the other. So options are limited, and when the shortest route is plagued by road work, I’ve no recourse but to take a longer way around.

My plan seemed to be running smoothly on Monday morning. I’d left just late enough for some traffic to subside, but not so late that I’d be more than five or ten minutes late for work. I need to factor in an extra 10 to 15 minutes for my detour I discovered, especially since there’s a bit of a jam up where it rejoins my normal route. Still, I didn’t do too badly, and as I got closer to work, I noticed the car in front of me looked a lot like my dad’s car. It even had his initials on the license plate. In fact, the letters and numbers were all identical. I always a little slow on the uptake, but moreso in the morning. Of course it was my father.

He grew up in the town where I now work, and still owns a garage and a small lot. In the back of my mind, I remember him asking me to research power sources for cordless hedge trimmers, and realized he must have moved forward without waiting for me. I didn’t want to honk the horn and startle him, so I waved, as though a 79-year-old man recovering from two cataract surgeries and wearing thick full face black sunglasses would actually see me in his mirror. We reached a point where I’d have to make a left and he’d continue on, and I drove alongside waving at him while he stared straight ahead.

When I got to my office, I called my mom to share the story. Apparently, he didn’t want me to know he was driving and doing yardwork without my help, and gave me a 15 minute head start. In doing so, he proved that as bad as the construction traffic would be to sit through, it still would have taken me less time than it did driving the long way around. I decided I’d head over to the lot on my lunch break to check on him, since no one would really be around to help him if he had a heart attack and collapsed in the tall grass. As I worked, I noticed the atmosphere getting darker, the atrium across from my office taking on a shade of gray. It had been a cool morning, and I was originally looking forward to taking a stroll at lunch.

I checked the weather reports and found that some thunderstorms were expected. Soon, sheets of rain began pelting the skylights over the atrium. Louder and louder, the sounds ultimately proved to be hailstones. People stopped working as lights flickered and it got too loud to concentrate. Many walked down my hallway to look up at the fury of nature. I noted the time with dismay, realizing it would be at least another hour before I could take lunch and check on my dad. I could only hope that he’d left before the storm hit, or at the very least took shelter in his garage.

After a half hour or so it died down, and the room got brighter again. One of my friends stopped by, telling me that he’d been trapped in a glass entranceway because he forgot his key card and wandered out to watch the storm. He couldn’t get back in the office, and he couldn’t go out into the hail, and without his cell phone on him he had to wait for someone to walk past. Warning me of flooding, he headed out to his own car. Outside, I discovered he wasn’t exaggerating, as some parts of the parking lot had a foot of water or more. By some miracle of improbability, I was parked in the fourth space in a row in which a lake extended to the third space. I had to walk across a parking island to get around the lake, and drive the long way around the parking lot to avoid most of the flooding. One section was unavoidable, and may have been two feet deep or worse.

There was no answer at home when I called from my cell phone, and I continued on to the street where my dad grew up. The hedges were neat and there were a few bags and boxes of weeds out at the curb, but no sign of his car. I’d later learn that he had indeed finished his work just in time, and the worst of the storm didn’t strike until he was nearly home. After lunch, I found that my friend at work didn’t fare as well, and discovered on his break that the hail had demolished his and his wife’s garden, tomato plants and others torn to shreds, ruins in which a few icy spheres still lingered. We’ve been getting some furious and unpredictable weather lately. I can’t imagine what will fall from the sky next...


Blogger Rey said...

Unfortunately we'll never know of Al'Thor will fix all this or not. The Wheel of Time has been broken.

8/12/2008 3:54 PM  

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