Tick Tick Tick

Why do things like this only ever happen when you’re late?

I was on my way to the office today, running late after having dragged my heels all morning. I’m not sure quite what was wrong, but I really didn’t want to get dressed and leave the house. By the time I got myself pulled together and ready to go, it was late enough that I had to drive, rather than making my usual walk. So I hopped in the car and headed out of my complex.

Things you need to know:

1. There is one way out of the complex proper.

2. At the exit to the complex proper, you can either immediately turn left, or go straight for one block and then turn left. Those are your only options.

3. The complex is completely surrounded by construction, and where there isn’t construction, there is a working frozen-food processing warehouse.

So: I drove the block to the exit to the complex, and prepared to turn left. I usually take the first left rather than the second, because I figure that way fewer things can go wrong: one block fewer jammed with construction machinery, and the like. And it was a good thing I intended to turn, because right ahead of me, in the center of the street, was an enormous tractor-trailer, taking up both traffic lanes.

Unfortunately, to the left, there was another big truck, a flatbed, parked next to the frozen-food place. The truck was loaded with huge stacks of pallets, and a guy with a forklift was unloading the pallets and moving them into the warehouse. I got halfway into the turn when I realized that the combination of the truck, the forklift, and the construction machinery on the other side of the street made it impossible for me to get by, so I stopped and waited for the forklift guy to get the load he was just picking up off the truck and around it into the warehouse.

Further unfortunately, I think my presence created some kind of performance anxiety in the forklift guy, because he did something to the controls that caused the forklift to jerk, just a bit, which in turn caused the big stack of pallets he was carrying to teeter and then fall.

Entirely blocking the road.

And remember, the only other way out is filled with an eighteen-wheeler, who is looking to turn right (a.k.a. my left).

I looked up at the truck driver with what must have been raw panic–I teach in fifteen minutes, and I’m trapped. The truck driver, to his credit, was not laughing so hard that he didn’t have the presence of mind, after I backed up, to pull forward so that I could squeeze around him.

I made it to class with minutes to spare, so disaster was averted. But the clearest part of all this for me was the lightning-fast flash of trying to think through how I was going to explain to our departmental administrator that I couldn’t get to class on time because I was hemmed in by a truck and a pile of pallets.

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