Coming down the escalator to the terminal’s ground floor I could see the rain falling hard against the massive windows that made up the wall on the east side of the building. Outside, standing curbside waiting for the shuttle bus that would take me to the rental car facility; I came into personal contact with the cold, wet and very windy night. It was not cold enough to turn the rain into snow, but it was cold enough that it did not matter. After a long day of waiting, hurrying, dragging bags, stuffing overhead bins, and eating pretzels, I was tired and not looking forward to the 45 minute drive to my hotel. Still, real food and a warm bed was sufficient motivation to keep me moving.
I was moderately wet by the time I found myself in the driver’s seat of a foreign made “full sized” car. If this was a full sized car, I could not imagine how small a compact could be. Once I had located the lights switch, wipers, programed the GPS system, and adjusted the mirrors I was ready to go. I was driving in one of those states in the east where they did not know what a Bots Dot, or a reflector on the road was, or even reflective paint. On the pot hole filled road leading to the highway, I was having too much trouble distinguishing my lane from the one to my right or left; fortunately it was late and not too many cars were on the road. My lack of clarity was beginning to unnerve me, not to mention twice the harsh voice on the GPS box had informed me that it was recalculating my route because I had missed a turn.
Once on the highway, I was certain the road would be more visible and my driving easier. I could not have been more wrong. The water spray coming from the big trucks, combined with the increased rain to create a watery fog that the windshield wipers only momentarily cleared the view. There were three lanes on each side of the highway, and if there were white lines painted between them I couldn’t see them. I could see the edge of the road, so I positioned my rental car on the farthest right lane trying to keep to the left of the edge. Cars were passing by me like I was a student driver. Up ahead was a bridge spanning a river, and I either had to move to the left or hit the side of the bridge. That’s when I knew how far to the right I had been driving. A honking driver let me know that my lane change was ill timed. The windshield wipers were not keeping time to anything, unlike what the song indicated. I was pitched forward in my seat with both hands trying to squeeze the life out of the steering wheel. I strained my eyes to see more detail, to provide more clarity on this simple task of driving from the airport to a hotel.
The lady at the guard shack back at the rental car place had told me to exit on Jefferson to get to my chosen hotel. I could see the exit for Jefferson approaching but the lady in my GPS box stayed quiet. Did I program the address correctly, or was there a better way to get to my final destination? I make big decisions routinely in my job, yet I was struggling whether to follow the advice of a machine or person. Procrastination made my decision for me; the exit sign for Jefferson Avenue passed quickly on my right, so I impatiently waited for instructions. I had only driven 18 mores or so, but it felt more like 100 miles. My neck and back ached from the self-imposed stress of trying too hard. My eyes were actually watering from strain. Finally she broke her silence to tell me my exit was one mile down the road. Not a simple instruction, like “Take exit 12 to the right.” No, she said, “take exit 112C to the right followed by an immediate slight left.” The rain was so hard and my night vision admittedly so poor that trying to distinguish exit 112 A, or B from C was looking to be nearly impossible. I started to slow down from 50 mph that was already drawing harsh looks (I couldn’t see the stares, but I could feel them), to 40 mph while still on the highway approaching the group of exits, so I would have the best chance to find 112C. I looked but didn’t see it, because half of the lights over the exit signs were out. Arrows were pointing in three slightly different directions, but the letters telling me which was the right exit were dimmed, or out. The lady was telling me; actually I think she was screaming in a demeaning tone to, “Exit to the right followed by an immediate slight left.” So I chose the third lane, assuming it was “C” and exited the highway.
“Recalculating. Make a legal U turn as soon as possible.” She was smug in her directions. I found a place and flipped a U. Ten frustrating minutes later I was parked at the hotel.
No one was hurt or injured on my drive; the only casualties were my back, neck and pride. Still, it could have been very bad; I could have caused an accident. I think God was talking to me, letting me know that my pride was unimportant, and that listening to reality and doing the right thing was important. It doesn’t matter what subject God is talking to us about; drinking, smoking, work ethics, the effects of age, He will give us many warning to change what He knows is a habitual bad choice by us. One day though, the warnings will end, and the consequences will begin.
Two days later, while I was still in that eastern town, there was a collision involving 40 cars on that bridge, with three fatalities.
Accident or Consequence?