While driving to Nevada, my mother and I stopped at a Starbucks. (I was happy to see those good franchise people haven’t lost their sense of purpose—believe me when I say we could not have been in a much more remote location without actually taking leave of the planet, and yet there it was, the big green and white sign we’ve all come to love, shining like a beacon of hope over the lonely highway of Lots and Lots of Miles to Go Before I Can Get A Freaking Nap.) Once ordered, we adjourned to the car to enjoy our overpriced sugar surges. As we were chatting amiably, I happened to glance at the windshield (it being right there and all). And I noticed something a teensy bit out of the ordinary.
“Hey, Mom, what’s wrong with your windshield?”
“What do you mean? OH MY GOD!”
The crack—well, it wasn’t a crack, that’s a misnomer. Perhaps “canyon made out of sparkly glass” would do better to capture the spirit of the thing. It was about two feet long, horizontal, right about eye level, looked distinctly like the work of a flying rock with a major vendetta, and had certainly not been there before.
“Wow, do you think the windshield will shatter?” I asked conversationally.
“If another rock hits us, it will,” my mom said, staring worriedly at the glass. “We shouldn’t drive with it like this, but we’re eight billion miles away from anywhere right now.” (I’m paraphrasing a little; my mother doesn’t employ hyperbole with the same fondness and regularity that I do.)
“Well, we’ll just have to keep going then. Unless you want to call road service?” I recall posing this question with a certain degree of unwarranted perkiness. Apparently I have a finely honed appreciation for proximity to danger and death.
My mom hesitated. “I guess so. We’ll have to get it replaced as soon as we’re in Nevada.”
“So we just have to get through another couple hundred miles of interstate highways full of big, perilous trucks and we’ll be home free! Good luck with that.”
My mother chose not to dignify my smart-ass remarks. In any case, I would have happily driven the car myself. I happen to be a wonderful driver, and I miss greatly being out on the open road (plus, cars do much to minimize one’s proximity to smelly, creepy people, unlike subways).
But she never lets me drive her car. Something about me not being on the insurance anymore. Like that matters.
Anyway, we hit the open road with a modicum of trepidation (“[Lady Snark], if the window shatters it’s going to be really loud and scary, so try not to panic.”). Sunglasses were donned. Phone calls were made. Fortunately, getting people to agree to things over the phone by way of pretending to be someone else (in this case, my mom) is a specialty of mine. In a short time I had arranged for our windshield to be repaired upon arrival.
Meanwhile, my mom was driving. Quite well, I might add. Kept us very clear of vicious rocks. She only made one tiny mistake that nearly got us both killed. Focused as she was on the state of the windshield (we could actually see the crack growing as we drove), she was attempting to stay away from big rigs at all costs—good decision, for sure, under the circumstances. However, it led to a situation where centering her attention on attempting to pass a big rig caused her to not notice that the lane was ending, and rather rapidly at that.
Not being the driver, I had no excuse for not noticing that our little stretch of road was ending as suddenly as a cliff. The copilot is there to be that extra set of eyes, that auxiliary pair of observatory senses. I feel really bad about this and all, but when you get right down to it, I’ve never had great observatory skills (you could easily stalk and kill me if such was your evil wont; I wouldn’t necessarily notice anything amiss until the machete was hovering over my head, and even then, I might assume you were a friend of mine playing a funny joke). Plus I was reading at the time.
However, she managed to swerve in time to avoid certain death. We were practically thrust up against the big rig, so if we were ever to get hit by Vicious Rock #2, that would have been the time. This did not happen. We made it to our final destination without actually meeting our Final Destination. The windshield was replaced the following morning, though naturally not anywhere near the time frame we were promised, which caused me to miss a party back in San Francisco.
I considered this a great loss, though my liver probably didn’t mind.