Tuesday, June 05, 2007

The long road home

Finally - time to leave. Out to the parking lot, hop in the car and head for the exit.

What's this? A huge line of cars streams west on Clyborn. When they reach the exit from our lot every one of them makes a u-turn, since the road is completely closed from that point west. Getting out of here is going to be a nightmare. Fortunately, some kind woman waves me in, no doubt embarrassed after ignoring the huge "local access only" sign that all these drivers had to pass to get to this point.

Turn east out of the lot, into the left lane in order to make a left turn at the next corner...me and the fifty gazillion bozos who had to turn around at our lot. Sigh.

Make a brilliant management decision, move to the right lane and zip four blocks further east to 6th street. The 6th street viaduct (err...excuse me, the "James Groppi Memorial Unity Bridge" or somesuch like that) is wide, high and fast. But a menace lurks at the south end: an evil, British-style roundabout. Briefly consider taking Canal Street through the valley, instead of taking the bridge over it. Nah - don't want to hit the casino traffic.

My strategy for dealing with Dante's eighth circle of hell (the one inhabited by those guilty of deliberate, knowing evil): stay in the right lane, and exit at the first chance. Find my way back to National Avenue and cruise west to home.

So far, so good - decanted onto Virginia. I have a vague idea of where that is, and judging by the sun blinding me, I'm headed west. The road curves slightly south and undergoes a sex change, becoming Bruce Street. Past 11th, then 12th, and it's about time I cut south to National. Hey, where is 13th Street, and where did all this light industry come from? Under the 16th street viaduct (had I taken Canal I could have accessed the viaduct from the valley floor, but I can't get there from this transgendered, no-southward egress mess).

OK - 20th looks like it goes through to National. Turn left on 21st, and instantly become a pasty white gringa with a bad attitude and crappy sense of direction in a section of town known for hot music, hotter salsa and hotheads in gangs social clubs.

Funny, there are a lot more people on the streets at 5 p.m. than when I go east through this area at 6:15 a.m.

Catch some breaks on the lights, cruise all the way to 39th. Then everything stops.

Crap. The Brewers are playing the Cubs at 7:05 tonight, and 43rd street is clogged with folks on their way to Miller Park to tailgate.

Eventually get through, make the decision to stop at the closer grocery store to pick up a rotisserie chicken, rather than go to the farther (and much cheaper) grocery to do real food shopping. Park, run in, grab food, go to end of "express" lane, behind nine other people, including a slow-moving Don King down-on-his-luck look-alike and two moms who keep sending their daughters to get more food to put in their carts.

Apparently the "about ten items" rule only applies to what is in your cart when you join the line, not to what is in your cart when you actually check out.

A different clerk approaches our end of the line.

"I can check you out around the corner in Liquor."

A footrace breaks out. No one quite wants to run, but it's a close thing. I would have won, but I let the woman who had been ahead of me in the original queue go first. Her arms were full; I had a cart.

Not that I was tempted to run her over with it or anything.

I walked in my front door fifty-five minutes after I left the office. It's normally a twenty minute drive, and that in rush hour traffic.

*In spite of massive temptations, no pedestrians were run over, no shoppers assaulted and no laws were broken on this trip. Although, come to think of it, the third commandment may have gotten a little bent. The universal Italian sign language may have been utilized; however, if specific instances of such are alleged, the management claims a hereditary right to such usage. The fact that the language necessitates removal of hands from both steering wheel and gear shift should have no bearing on the matter.

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