I'd planned on traveling to Cincinnati last Monday to visit my daughter and came down with the flu. I called Patty and told her it would be the next Monday; she works full time and is a full time student at Cincinnati State, and Monday is the only day she has off.
I looked her address up on Google Maps. It looked pretty easy to find. "Don't trust Google," Patty said. "They're doing road construction and it will try to send you down a road that's closed. Take the Hoppit exit, turn right and I'll meet you at the Shell station.
My nose was still producing copious amounts of snot, I was still coughing up lots of mucus but felt a hell of a lot better than I had last week. I woke up about 5:30 Monday morning, did my morning routine functions, especially coffee, one function of which was checking my phone. Three missed calls and a voicemail from Patty. I called, knowing she wouldn't answer because she's never awake that early and left a message that I was on my way and to call when she woke up.
I have a big laptop bag and a small laptop; the bag had cost me $5 and came with a broken laptop. I put spare clothing, charging accessories in it and loaded it, my battery jumper, and Patty's cat's ashes in the car.
I had a half tank of gas and figured it would get me to Indiana, where fuel would surely be cheaper. After all, it's a red state and Republicans hate taxes, right? No such luck, I was down to an eighth of a tank by the time I reached Bloomington.
It's a little frustrating that Cincinnati is southeast of Springfield, but you have to go northeast to get there unless you want to drive over three hundred miles of two lane road with 30 to 45 MPH speed limits and lots of stop signs and so forth. It would take forever that way.
Gas was a nickle cheaper than Springfield; $3.55. I put twenty bucks in, figuring I'd fill up in Indiana and started on my way again. I had my phone plugged into the car stereo for times there was no music and I'd heard all the CDs, which I'd neglected to change before I left. There was a rest area so I stopped to urinate and change CDs. I checked the phone; Patty had called. I called back, and again she warned me about Google.
Apparently people from Illinois aren't welcome in Indiana, as the usual "Welcome to [state]" sign was nowhere in evidence. The only way I knew I'd crossed state lines was that the pavement got a lot worse. I-74 had apparently been badly neglected for years in Indiana, except for a stretch by Indianapolis. Gasoline was more expensive than at home.
The sun was shining, the pavement was dry, and there was little traffic. "Welcome to Ohio!" the big sign proudly proclaimed in bright graphics as the pavement improved. I reached Cincinnati and the traffic was terrible. I-74 East split into I-75 north and south; I guessed south but wasn't sure. I pulled over to the shoulder and called Patty to make sure I wasn't going the wrong way. I wasn't.
The next exit was the Hoppit exit. I met Patty at the gas station. "You shaved!" she said.
"Yeah, my upper lip hasn't seen the sun since before you were born." Patty had never seen me completely shaven; most of her life I've had a beard, or at least a mustache when my chin hair went gray.
"I don't like it," she said, frowning."
"Neither do I. I'm growing it back this fall." I noticed the gas cap door on her car was open as she pulled out and was about to honk to let her know when she pulled over and shut it.
We got to her apartment and we hugged and I shook her fiance's hand an gave Patty the metal box and envelopes. I hadn't opened one of them, which had come from Coble Animal Hospital. I'd thought it contained Princess' ashes but they called a week later to inform me I could pick her up.
"Ooh, this is a pretty box," she said. "What's in it?"
I still can't believe I spent over three hundred dollars for a dead cat, part for the vet to tell me she was dying and part to have her cremated, since the ground was frozen and I couldn't bury her. I discovered that animals and humans are cremated in the same crematorium, which is why it's so expensive. If Little One dies in the winter I'm storing her in a deep freeze until the ground thaws.
Patty opened the unopened envelope and started crying. It was a plastic placard that read "PRINCESS" and had her paw prints in it. No, I guess I didn't spend $300 on a dead cat, I spent it on my daughter. "Put this with Calie under the tree," she instructed. "When you move, take it and Calie's grave marker with you."
Colby had planned on making Reuben sandwiches for lunch but the corned beef was still frozen. "Let's go to Chick Filet," he said. "OK," I replied,"but then Patty needs a phone." Her iPhone had been broken for months, its screen cracked. And she'd liked my phone and especially liked my low phone bill.
We had chicken sandwiches and went to Best Buy. The price of the phone was half what I'd paid for mine. She was trying to decide between it and a more expensive one with a front facing camera but decided she liked the idea of it being waterproof and resistant to shock.
"Lets buy a TV while we're here" she said to Colby. After they talked for a while she said "well, I'm buying a TV. I have the money." They have an old twenty two inch tube TV that doesn't work and a little nineteen inch widescreen.
But she didn't like the prices so we went to H.H. Gregg, whose prices were no better than Best Buy's. Best Buy's crack Geek Squad couldn't activate Patty's new phone so we took it home and did it ourselves.
I'd bought Gravity, which had come from Amazon amazingly the day before it was supposedly released for sale. It was a "combo pack" with a DVD, Blu-Ray and download. I'd brought the Blu-Ray for Patty, and we watched it using her Playstation and little TV set.
None of us had seen the previous night's Cosmos so she fired up Hulu plus on the Playstation. After watching it and an episode of Doctor Who I decided that I wanted Hulu Plus.
The next morning she gave me a big bowl of corned beef, cabbage, carrots, and potatoes, and two T shirts. One was almost a joke; a St. Patrick's Day Reds shirt. The other was hawking some video game, a nerdy shirt I'll wear proudly.
She wanted to see how badly Google would have set me astray so I gave her my phone. She was amazed. "They got it perfect, that's how I told you to go." I loaded up the car, we said our goodbyes and I set off on the long journey home.
The trip home was as unpleasant as the trip there had been pleasant. First, I missed my turn to get on I-74. Five miles later I got on I-75, saw I was headed to Dayton and took the next exit. I stopped at a gas station, got gas, and consulted the map.
It would be nice of these things came with manuals. I think it ironic that everything used to have a detailed manual when technology was primitive enough you didn't need one, and now that interfaces have only icons and no way to discern WTF they mean, they don't. Let's see, looks like I go that way...
The radio was playing commercials so I switched it to the phone to listen to KSHE. The disk jockey started giving directions! "Go west on" whatever street the gas station was on "point seven miles and turn right." It wasn't KSHE, it was Google Maps. It easily got me back on I-74 north and it wouldn't shut up so I switched back to the radio.
Traffic was horrible; a semi that read "TARGET" zoomed past me doing at least twenty miles above the speed limit and almost made me miss my exit. Looks like it isn't just their IT that could use more training.
A little green sign with white lettering said "Welcome to Indiana". It started snowing. Twenty miles later visibility was poor, and twenty minutes after that the pavement was covered.
It was a miserable trip. The snow stopped around Indianapolis and the traffic was almost as bad as Cincinnati. Halfway to Illinois the wind started blowing. A couple of semis almost got blown off the highway.
Gas in Bloomington was $3.49.
When I got home there was a box on my doorstep; The Paxil Diaries had arrived. I'd screwed it up terribly. So you still can't have a copy yet...