How Not to Get There

I took a fairly long drive west yesterday, to go to a barbeque hosted by Bitch Ph.D. and attended by some other bloggy folks in the area. I’m always a little nervous about this meeting-online-people-offline business, and so I over-calculated a little bit. Things were starting up at 4, and I didn’t want to be too early, and then there’s traffic between here and there, and… well, you just never really know how it’s going to go. So I rolled out of here at a time that I estimated should land me there in the 4.15 to 4.30 vicinity, and figured that if traffic held me up a bit, well, I’ll be a bit more fashionable.

Well. There were a couple of things that I failed to take into account in my calculations:

1. Rain.

2. Me being an idiot.

There’s nothing much to be done about the rain, of course. It slows things down a bit, but mostly it makes them more hair-raising, as the general SoCal thought pattern about driving in the rain seems to go something like this: “Oh, no! It’s raining! I don’t know how to drive in the rain! It’s scary! I’d better get off the freeway quickly! I’m going to go as fast as I possibly can!”

Me being an idiot, though, one would think I’d have compensated for by now. I printed up a lovely set of directions for how to get to Dr. & Mr. B.’s, so there wouldn’t be any problems. And at a key moment yesterday, I found the directions on my desk, and said “oh ho! Don’t leave without this! That would be bad!” So I put them and the bottle of wine I was bringing together on the kitchen counter where I couldn’t possibly miss them.

The good news is that they were still safely there when I got home last night.

There was this moment, though, as I was rolling into Burbank, about a third of the way into the trip, when I thought… now what did I do with that sheet? And immediately knew that I’d left it at home.

It’s hard to calculate options at 80 miles an hour. So I pulled off the freeway at Forest Lawn, found a spot on the side of the road, and tried to think. (Clearly, however, that was not going so well for me thus far.) What do I remember of the directions? Well, I remember the city I’m driving to, and the freeways that will take me there. And I remember the street that Dr. B’s house is on. But I don’t remember the house number, and I don’t remember the path from the freeway to the house. And I don’t remember her phone number. So I’ve got to come up with the invitation information again.

I regularly synchronize my iPod with my iCal, I thought, and the directions were in my iCal, so they should be on my iPod! Except that I just got a new iPod, and when I set it up, I apparently failed to turn on iCal syncing.

Okay, no matter, I thought. My cell phone is web-enabled, so I should be able to get online and get the info I need, somehow. Except that none of the sites that I might be able to obtain the information through are themselves mobile-web enabled.

Okay, I thought; I need to check my email. At that moment, my cell phone rang — R. calling to see how the drive was going. I blurted out the stupid predicament I’d landed myself in, and he said he could get home and to his computer in five minutes, and that he’d try to help me from there. By this point, I was beginning to have the first thoughts of giving up and going home, but he insisted that I give him a chance to help straighten it out. So I waited.

He called me back from home, and I guided him through logging into my email account (incidentally, it’s nice to have somebody you trust enough to let them do that) and told him where the message should be. But it wasn’t there. We tried several other things, and still couldn’t come up with the information. So we’re back to me needing to check my email myself. And it occurred to me: the Apple Store! And I’m in Burbank! And there’s one in Glendale! So R. googled directions from where I was to the Glendale Apple Store, and guided me there.

Except. The Glendale Apple Store? Is in the Glendale Galleria. Which is a mall.

And it’s two weeks before Christmas.

Still, I’d made it that far, so I fought the traffic trying to park, and I circled until I found a spot, and fought the crowds through the mall, and found the Apple Store, and planted myself in front of the first available machine, and logged in to my email. And hunted and hunted until I found the message I needed. And wrote the address and phone number down, and googled the directions, and wrote them down, too. And fought the crowds headed back out of the mall, and searched for my car, which I almost remembered where I’d left it, and fought the traffic getting back out of the mall, and found my way back to the freeway.

And I was back on track! Except that it was already almost 5.30, and I still had at least an hour of driving ahead of me.

Dr. B. was extremely sympathetic on the phone, way more than my stupidity deserved, and told me to come on ahead anyhow. They were just finishing dinner when I arrived, and she made me a plate and poured me a glass of an excellent pink fizzy wine, and I set about trying to catch up on who was who. And everyone was just great.

The most depressing part of the entire adventure, though, was realizing, as I was fighting my way into the Glendale Galleria, that if, instead of pulling over at Forest Lawn, I’d simply turned around and headed back home, picked up what I’d forgotten, and headed back out again, it would have been faster.

And I wouldn’t have shown up empty-handed.

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