Friday, December 01, 2006

Couldn't Stand the Weather...

On the whole, it was a good trip to Chicago; it was the getting there and the returning that left a lot to be desired. And considering I'd been expecting to have to drive part of the way in snow conditions, it oculd have been a lot worse.

I'd originally planned to go up to Chicago for an alumni event--a reception and a talk by the new president of my college, which sounded worth a drive. Then I realized I could add a trip to the King Tut exhibit before it left the Field Museum, so I combo-ed up and bought a ticket online (for which I got charged a $3 service fee, and another $3 delivery charge--for having it held at Will Call. Yes--to "deliver" it across the desk at the admissions gate is $3. Chiselling %$@*#^...) Finally, I realized a friend of mine from the MA program here is now working at the Chi Historical Society, and so I made a lunch date with her. Perfect plan.
When I wake up, it's raining and dark, and so I get a slow start out of Indy. Finally hit the road in just enough time so I can make the lunch date if nothing goes wrong... Which is no doubt why I blew out a tire an hour into the trip. In the pouring rain. In the "Bermuda Triangle" area of I-65 several miles south of Lafayette, where cell phones don't work. I got out to change the tire in the cold pouring rain (in my nice clothes, because remember I'm going to a reception later on. My college does fancy receptions, there are canapes and stuff.) Got the car jack out, which required me to unload several cardboard boxes of leftover floor tiles which I've not yet returned to Lowe's, and with much struggling managed to remove 3 of the 4 lugnuts from the offending tire. The fourth one wouldn't budge. I strained, I pulled, I pushed, and finally put my entire body weight on the jack, only to notice that the hex nut was actually warping rather than coming loose. Reattached the other nuts, got back in the car, and rolled forward inches at a time while staring at my cell phone until I got an intermittant signal. After shouting through a wall of static at several various people, I managed to get hold of Triple A. And a mere 3 hours after my breakdown, I was on the road again with a new tire from McCord, a fantastic and friendly tire dealer in Lafayette who got me in and out in a half hour, and a new cell phone car charger from Pep Boys (who had a 2 hour wait before they'd even have looked at my tire, but since I'd burned out the phone on the road I was grateful for their vast acreage of auto electronics.)

So lunch was out, but I made it to Tut and enjoyed it very much. Then went up to the Arts Center, parked, and killed the hour before the reception walking up Michigan to the Girardelli store for hot chocolate. Had dinner at a fantastic deli called Eppy's, and if you ever have the opportunity to eat there and you pass it up to eat at the Subway next door instead, well.... you deserve what you get, is all I'm sayin'. The proprietor read his sandwich boy the riot act for asking if I wanted mayonnaise on my corned beef sandwich. "This is a Jew deli, Robert! You don't OFFER to ruin their meat for them by putting mayo on it! She asks you, then you can put it on, but you just ask her 'What kind of mustard would you like on that?' " Robert countered that maybe they should just stop serving ham while they're at it, which got the response "Hey, I said we were a Jew deli; I didn't say we were kosher." The soup was 27¢ a bowl, because it was 27 degrees out when they opened that morning. If it's below zero, they give you money back with the soup. What more could a person want in a deli? I almost didn't have room for the canapes. The alum program was nice, and when I left it was only just starting to freezing-rain out. Roads weren't slick, everything was fine.... Until I hit northern Indiana, at which point the heavens opened and i drove home in pouring rain the whole way, with low visibility and high wind.

At least the tire blew on the way up and not on the way back.