Wednesday, August 25, 2004

Hot chocolate

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Some years ago, when my wife was eight months pregnant, I was working as an import manager for a cargo airline at Miami International.

It was Christmas Eve and we were keeping our offices open until noon.

I left our apartment around 7 Am. There wasn't a soul out there. I was driving an old beat up BMW 325, that didn't have a whole lot going for it, other than the fact that it ran. The A/C came and went and the radio had a short. Still, it was fully automated, including controls for the side rearview mirrors on the doors, and for the windows behind the shifter, in between the seats. The only thing it was really missing was a cup holder.

I got off the expressway halfway to the airport to get gas and some hot chocolate. I don't usually stop but it was a beautiful day, so I figured what the hell. Why rush to the office? I bought myself an extra large cup. I also picked up a danish and a paper while I was at it.

I got back in my car, tossed the stuff on the passenger seat and held the cup in my right hand. I got back on the road and as I approached the on-ramp, noticed I'd forgotten to buckle my seat belt. Well, usually that wouldn't have been a big deal, but I'd recently been fined for driving without one. So in a moment of complete insanity, as I'm making the turn onto the ramp, I slowed the car down, placed the extra large styrofoam cup of burning hot chocolate on the dashboard while I secured myself to the car.

I know what you're thinking: "What an idiot!" , "What a moron!!" , "What a dumbass!!!" and you're right. But the truth is that I'd placed beverages on there before, albeit for infinitesimal amounts of time, and it had worked. The dashboard could be used as a temporary table in case of emergency.

The moment I placed the cup there and went for the seatbelt, a car appeared behind me and tailgated me up the ramp. In an instant of panic, and to get this guy off my ass, I hit the gas ever so slightly. That, coupled with the incline of the ramp, made the cup of chocolate slide off the dash and bounce off the shifter. Through some crazy reflex, I managed to catch the cup on its way up. But a hole had formed below it, where it hit. It was pouring out like a busted water main, flowing like an oil strike.

With the windows closed and the controls at my right, tossing it out the window was out of the question. Here I am, left hand on the wheel, a busted cup of burning fluid in my right hand, and a car trying to screw me from behind. I pulled into the emergency striped area to the left, the one that divides the road and the on-ramp before they merge together.

The scalding hot chocolate kept pouring out like there was no end in sight. My pants were soaked, my legs were burnt, my right hand was FRIED!, the case of CD's that I had on the passenger floorboard was wasted, and once I stopped, the window controls were stuck in place. Hot chocolate was flying everywhere!

Finally, the cup was empty. Just as I managed to open the door so I could toss it out. I sat there and surveyed the damage. I had to laugh. There was nothing that could be done now.

I was going to have to drive back home and change, but I had to get some of the stuff cleaned off before I went anywhere. I pulled out the keys and went to the trunk to pull out the roll of paper towels I kept there. Right after I closed it, I realized what I had done. The keys were in the trunk. Of course. How else could it have gone?

I got back in the car and started to wipe everything off anyway. Thirty seconds later the car alarm automatically went off. I closed the door and eventually it shut off. But the windows were closed and I was suffocating, so I had to open the door again, and then...WHHAAAAAA, WHHAAAAAA, WHHAAAAAA...

I called my wife from my cell phone and asked her to bring me the spare keys. She wasn't happy about this. No matter what kind of a mess I was in, she was going to be bothered by this. Apart from the fact that she's not much of a morning person, she was also very pregnant and had been waiting on tables until 1:00 Am that night. "I know...I'm sorry...don't know what else to do..." and so on and so forth.

She showed up a half hour later (a ten minute drive!) and brought the keys with her. Her mood improved considerably once she saw me. In fact she couldn't stop laughing. She said I looked a lot like when I worked in the oilfields, covered in oil and mud. That helped to lighten up my mood as well. Certainly this wasn't even half as bad as things were back then.

We went home. I showered, got dressed, kissed my wife and her belly good-bye, and was off to work again. It was still a beautiful day!


Anonymous said...

I think you should have bought a lottery ticket that day, 'cause, dude, you were due for some better luck.

I can't get over that you locked the keys in the trunk to top it all off.


Sarah McBroden said...

Shakes my head. Men shouldn't try to multi-task! I can just imagine your wife and her belly giggling at you on the side of the road.

I always think it is wonderful how something like a cup of hot chocolate can turn into a memory you and your wife will laugh about together for a long time to come.

SN said...

well told my friend....
and quite a story

Amber said...

Spilled hot chocolate is quite possibly the hottest thing on the planet, IMO. Why is that? It's hotter than hot coffee, hotter than hot soup, it's DAMN hot!

Takes the skin of you hot. Sorry, Mick. Yeesh.

The_Darkener said...

Hot chocolate spilling over everything in the experience, and a very amusing (thought possibly not at the time!) one. I have to say I love the way you sum it up here:

"Here I am, left hand on the wheel, a busted cup of burning fluid in my right hand, and a car trying to screw me from behind."

That made me laugh so hard... ;)