The road from my hometown to where I attended college in the seventies was a monotonous drive. Other adjectives that come to mind are colorless, droning, dull, blah, flat, humdrum, mundane, and prosaic. This is my first time using “prosaic” in a sentence. It’s very exciting. More exciting than driving that road every freaking weekend.
I graduated from high school in 1974. The state road people were working on a huge section of Interstate 79 that would alleviate my need for boring adjectives. I could not wait until they were finished with it. It took me about 2 1/2 hours to get home. The new interstate section would knock off at least thirty minutes of tiresome driving time. Please hurry state road people.
Now, Interstate 79 may not seem like a major thoroughfare, but I beg to differ. Canadian snow birds use this route. I see more Ontario license plates than say, Pennsylvania or Ohio. Before this section of road opened, I’m sure Canadians were cursing as they veered around the wild wonderful almost to West Virginia roads.
I drove home about every other weekend, depending on what was going on in Fairmont. Freshman who stayed in the dorm were not allowed to have cars, but I was given special permission because my dad was having open heart surgery and my mom couldn’t take the time to drive down to get me when so much was going on. So, the college let me drive. I drove Rusty, my yellow Toyota. I named her that because, well, she was full of rust. There were dings all over her. People on campus did not care when they got out of their vehicles. I guess it is not fair to blame just college kids, because people of all ages and intelligence opened their car doors with no care as to what was in the way. So, Rusty was full of pock marks. She had car acne.
I had a car full of sorority sisters one particular Friday. I honestly don’t remember for sure who was in my car. I do know for sure that Stephanie was with me. She mentioned the episode to me on Facebook just a couple of months ago. And I’m thinking Anita, maybe Tanya or Irvin or maybe even Paula. Oh, hell, this I don’t remember. I know there were at least three others for sure.
We were traveling on the part of Interstate 79 that was finished. We traveled up to Mount Morris, Pennsylvania, right across the county line, when someone in the backseat made the remark:
“I heard the new interstate is going to open next week.”
This bit of news made me slow down a bit, but my pulse sped up.
Hmmmmmmm. Awwww, how wonderful that will be. I could use new adjectives from then on to describe my drive. Like pleasant, quick, and unmundane. Ok, maybe not the last one.
So, I kept driving and didn’t get off onto the two lane drive of misery. There were barricades blocking the unfinished interstate. It was calling out my name, I am sure.
”Vickie, drive on me….. Be the first motorist on my new road.”(You really need to sound like a ghost when you say that sentence)
I paused and then saw a place where my Rusty could squeeze through. I was going for it.
Nervous giggles in the car. The worst that could happen was a section of unfinished road that we would topple into. We wouldn’t be found until the ribbon cutting ceremony. I could see it now…someone standing with a huge pair of scissors in the middle of the new interstate. Off in the distance you could see the butt of a car and smoke coming from a huge hole. Except that wouldn’t make sense. The smoke would have been all done by then…and well, maybe the road would be ready for motorists. Hence, the ribbon cutting ceremony.
Regardless, who would find our bodies? I was just going to have to drive slower than usual. Just to make sure there weren’t any paving machines or construction workers to hit.
I was able to drive for a decent amount of time. It was a barren road. A barren, finished road. I saw a truck driving over an overpass. Dammit. Whoever was driving paused and watched me drive by. Uh oh. He was probably the head road guy. Or not. Maybe he was just like me, a motorist who did not want to drive that boring shitty drive to Waynesburg.
He called the coppers. The rat.
A state trooper up ahead sat in his car. His lights were on, and he was waiting for us. Notice I said “us” because this was not my idea. I was forced to drive by crazy sorority sisters. Ok, that wasn’t going to work.
I slowed down and pulled over.
“Oh my God, Vickie! What are you going to say?” Someone in the backseat was ready to crack already.
Well, hell, I didn’t know. Was I supposed to say anything? I got caught. I was just going to hand him my driver’s license and registration card. I was just going to keep my mouth shut, take the ticket and make up something for my mom.
My mom would lose her mind if I came home with a ticket for driving on an unopened section of interstate. But, then again, she would think that was a lie. That was too preposterous to be true. Seems like I was screwed no matter what.
The state trooper approached my newly rolled down window. I was just going to keep my mouth shut.
“Officer, thank God you are here!!!”
I went on to blabber nonsense about a car of guys chasing us and trying to get us to pull over. When I wouldn’t pull over, they kept hitting us in the back of the car. I was afraid to get off of the exit because I was afraid they would force us off of the two lane road over a cliff or make us crash.
“I knew that if I drove on the interstate I could make it to one of the exits and then get to the state police barracks.”
Did I just say that? Shit. I better cry.
So, I started crying and showed him my hands. They were shaking from holding on to the steering wheel while those guys in a black car kept hitting my bumper.
“When I got onto the new road, they quit following us.”
Someone added something from the backseat. Now we were pretty little liars.
He just looked at me.
I don’t remember what he said, if anything, but he didn’t give me a ticket. He let me go. Of course, I had to drive back the way I came and take the regular exit to the road of misery.
“But, what if the black car is waiting for us?” I thought that was a great point. My lie had to be genuine. If this really happened, that would be something that could happen. Sure, Lifetime movies weren’t invented yet, but I was way ahead of possible outcomes. The state trooper sort of smiled (sort of ?) and told me he would follow us to make sure we got off of the interstate. Didn’t he want to know more about Ted Bundy and his buddies?
So, we drove off. We talked about it all the way home. Now, this is where it gets foggy. Either Anita was in the car or we ended up at her house sometime during the weekend. Anita told me to tell her mom’s boyfriend (fiance? husband?) the story. So, I did. The man smiled and said:
“I would never have believed that one.”
Everyone in the room laughed. I was talking to a cop. Ha ha Anita. I think he was the Hancock county sheriff or a town cop. He could have been a state trooper. I don’t remember. I just remember a nervous laugh.
So, the moral of the story is that when two roads diverge in a wood, should you take the one less traveled?
I don’t know, but it could make all the difference.
Thanks, Robert Frost