Life’s been giving me a hard time for a while now, but this morning while on the way to an important appointment, life crossed my path and dropped a truckload of lemons right on my head.
Hang on to that thought while I digress before I regress.
When I tell someone I’d be available in a particular place at a specific time, I try my best to keep my word. And this appointment was far bigger than meeting a friend for coffee to discuss the latest fashion fallout. This was an examination, and one that required my entire concentration and my sound sense of time.
I left early. Three hours should be more than enough time to travel 45 km (28 miles). Why, I thought, I might even reach early. That’s always better than rushing in through the doors just as they’re closing. (Although what a dramatic entry that would make.) And so with my perfect plan laid out, I booked a cab and we started the ride.
The first phase was smooth — 45 minutes of near-vacant streets, with mild congestion that cleared up even before I knew it. I kept looking at the time, and was happy to see we were well within our goal. But as we transitioned into the second phase things became a little more crowded. The sun had risen to all its glory and people had begun to drag their feet from their homes and onto their motorcycles and cars. Rush hour or work hour—however you name it, everyone was on the street.
Our vehicle stopped moving right behind a long line of other vehicles. Although Google Maps assured us, “Despite usual traffic you’re still on the fastest route…” somehow, it felt like we were far from it. Of course, the ever-reliable voice of Google Maps was saying the same thing to the driver honking behind us, and to the many others all around us. Two hours later, we were still, still on the fastest route, except now it was “Despite heavier than usual traffic.”
It would’ve turned any rider’s head. And would’ve depressed any driver. Incredible though it seems, neither happened. My Uber driver maintained his composure, and because he didn’t start honking or teetering in his seat irritated, I hung in there as well. While my mind whirled, conceiving the worst case scenarios and wild cover up stories to explain my delay, the congestion on the road had no congestive effect whatsoever on my heart’s pumping. All seemed fine.
Phase three: Panic attack. When the traffic started moving again after what seemed like hours, but what had been only an hour, our mechanic guide opened her throat again. This time, she wasn’t event attempting to assure. She declared that I was going to be late. And she didn’t seem as upset or as concerned as an assistant should. I checked the time, and then my schedule. I had an hour’s grace period to show up before they’d declared me a no-show. I looked at the back of my driver’s head with an urge to urge him, but what would I say, and—even if I did—what could he do? I ate an apple, instead, to calm my nerves.
Phase four brought along a miracle. Just as the clouds cleared way for the sun, the roads cleared up for us. We didn’t pause to think or drop our jaws in wonder. My driver stamped on the accelerator and we shot forward. The cool voice of the guide came again, with good news at last: I would reach just on time.
When my driver pulled up at my destination, it was one minute past my reporting time. I had made it.
Inside, lemonade awaited me.