Saturday, September 15, 2012

On meeting deadlines, defying death at sea, and surviving life as a joke.

I recently set myself a new goal of posting here at least once per week.  Tomorrow another post is due and the one for this last week isn't done yet, and so you're getting this.

It's not like the one that isn't done yet will knock your socks off once it's posted.  So, don't, like, lose sleep waiting for it.  It's still the same sad old blog-style tripe.  It's only something special if you count the fact that it bears the marks of having been worried over, worked on.

So, I've decided to continue to worry and work that other post until it's awkward and lifeless ("The Amanda-Special"), while fulfilling my weekly quota with this hastily written post about one of the things that ate into the time I was going to use for blog writin'...  Here goes...  Enjoy!

For my dumb sushi job, I was driving from Newport to Lincoln City on a winding, two lane stretch of HWY 101 with a fairly sheer rock wall to my right and a tumble down to the Pacific Ocean on my left.  As I was heading downhill into a right hand curve, my truck died.

The lights on the instrument panel lit up, and then went dark.  The weight of the dead vehicle ignored the bend in the road and pulled me straight.  There was no room on the shoulder to pull over.  If I didn't do something fast, I was going to cross oncoming traffic and head into the ocean.

I pressed the button for the hazards, turned off the ignition, threw it in neutral, and restarted.  This gave me enough juice to get around the curve.  Over the next few miles, the thing stalled enough times that I lost count.  I never got above 15 mph.  Cars barreled around the curves behind me, and barely found time to go around.  In my effort to leave enough room for cars to pass on the left, my tires were losing traction on the unpaved dirt and gravel on the right shoulder, which was like the frosting on the don't-crash-and-kill-and/or-die surprise cake.

But I figured it out.  Within moments I had upgraded a situation from "perilously out of control" to "embarrassingly slow".

As soon as I could, I pulled over.  Of course, there was no phone service.  I got out and surveyed the road.  Although some people still hitch that stretch of road, and other folks ride their bikes up and down the coast, it just didn't feel smart to me to start hoofin' it.  I sat on the hood of the truck for a bit, and considered my options.  Eventually I got back into the truck to do the whole "Put It In Neutral, Pull Up Emergency Break, Floor It, Turn Ignition, & Then Release Emergency Break" dance until the truck and I got somewhere.  If I could have I would have done it all the way back to Portland, but each time I pulled that little trick, it was less effective, affording me less and less distance between restarts.

Luckily, before the truck died for good, it made it to the parking lot of an antique mall, and came to rest just in front of a run-down, abandoned, school bus-sized joke shop sitting out front.

After telling you that, I don't mind telling you this:  I am seriously the most capable person you will ever meet.

I don't make a big deal about it, but it's true.
You can take it to the bank.
You can use it to cut glass.

But that's not how I felt at that moment.  My truck had landed nose-to-nose with a place where jokes go to die.  I rested my chin on the steering wheel, took in the rotted wood, busted windows and cracking paint of comic-sans-ish signage on the joke shop that was...  What?  A former streetcar?...  and I ruminated on - what felt like - the appropriateness of it all.  I had come to a stop in front of a misguided business idea, that had been housed in a structure built for something else, and all of it had fallen to shit long, long ago.

That could, in some ways, describe my very existence.

Especially at that moment.
The sad, broken-down company truck was a joke.
The job this truck and I fulfill each day was a joke.
And so, temporarily at least, I was a joke.

As soon as the thought came, I knew I had to shake it off.  That's the kind of thing that can stick.  I got out and walked the parking lot in search of a stronger cell signal.  Then, while talking to the tow truck people, I looked back at the truck and I saw the rest of its life unfolding, and it became clear to me that I was just passing through.

I had just done some serious 007 action.  (You're welcome Blighty).  (OK.  I hadn't done anything to make Her Majesty proud, but I had still just exercised some middle-aged, lady-Oregonian version of James Bond skill).  This truck was doing what it was made to do, delivering stuff until it died, but I wasn't.  I was, as per usual, just passing through.  Someday something will stick with me, but it's not this, and it's not now.  I am seriously too capable.  Seriously.

Of course, I realize everything I wrote here could be a full-on delusion.  A collection of the little lies I tell myself in order to make it through each day.  But it doesn't matter.  Not really.  As long as I know I can do more, as long as I know I'm as capable as a middle-aged, out-of-shape, female James Bond, I have hope.  And that hope keeps me doing stuff.  And doing stuff just creates more evidence of my all-around, British Secret Service-style aptitude.  Eventually all of that skill will meet the right situation and it will stick.

So, that's one of the things that kept me from finishing the post I had planned on sharing with y'all this week.  Because after I waited for roadside assistance and rode back to Portland in the tow truck, I picked up another truck and finished my route...  And that wasn't even the most dramatic time-suck of the week.  Whatever.  At least now I can say...  Done.  The post for the week is complete.

It's not pretty.  It's definitely not my favorite.  It started a bit boring and then kind of limped over the finish line, but it's done.