Thursday, August 27, 2015
Cheese and Crackers
I’m in the mood for a nice, cleansing whine. What goes good with whine? Cheese, of course. I never seem to run out of things that cheese me off. As long as the rest of the world exists, I’ll always have a blog.
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I’m sure you’ve heard a version of this one: “When I was your age, we had to walk five miles to school. Barefoot. In the snow. And it was uphill both ways.” I can’t speak for the five miles or the barefoot part, but I can vouch for the rest.
It’s not school, though. It’s the library. I still can’t quite afford home Internet, so I get my connections at the library. Fortunately for me, the library is right up the street, less than a quarter mile away. I can see it from my yard. I could see it from the house if the bathroom window faced that way.
I could walk straight across the field and be there in five minutes except for one little obstruction: the 20-foot-wide stretch of water known as Cocalico Creek.
Y’see, I live in a river valley. Cocalico Creek runs through the entire western end of Ephrata, and the land runs downhill accordingly. It’s nearly impossible to get out of town without going up a steep hill. The Cocalico Creek flows precisely down the middle between the mobile home park and the library, which sits on top of a hill. In order to get there, I walk downhill, cross the bridge, then climb up the steep drive to the library at the top. I’m overweight and out of shape and toting a twenty-pound laptop. I haven’t had a heart attack yet, but it’s only a matter of time.
But wait, I hear you say. Wouldn’t it be all downhill going home? Nope, just halfway. Once I cross the bridge over the creek, the land begins its gradual upward slope again. So I do indeed have to walk uphill both ways. Though not always in the snow, because if it’s bad the library closes and all the ups and downs become moot.
I could walk the other road to the library, but that’s Route 272, the old highway. That one’s level. It’s also traffic-heavy, with no sidewalk and not much of a shoulder. And I’d still have to climb the hill to reach the library. I’d rather trudge up the other road than take my chances with drivers re-enacting the Indy 500.
As for school, I went to grade school at the Jersey shore. We had to swim five miles. Against the tide. Both ways.
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Being lazy as well as out of shape, and unwilling to lug the laptop to the summit of Everest, I usually just take the car. This comes with its own set of problems. When I’m in a parking lot, I try to find a pull-through, so I can see oncoming cars when I go to leave. My car’s been hit twice, both times in a parking lot by cars directly behind me backing out at the same time I was. One of those accidents happened at the library. You’ll forgive me for being paranoid.
The library doesn’t have any pull-through parking, but it does have a single line of spaces near the door. I always hope for one of these, not because they’re closer, but because there won’t be any cars parked behind me. When I back out I only have to worry about incoming traffic, and they’re usually nice enough to stop.
Here’s the part that cheeses me: motoring up the road to that long, steep drive, only to see another car turn in from the other direction. Watching that car trundle up the hill and knowing if there’s only one open spot in my chosen parking lane, he’s going to get it, and there’s not a damn thing I can do about it.
If I drive up and all the spots are taken, that’s life. I just drive to the other side of the lot and hope the person parked directly behind me doesn’t decide to leave at the exact same moment I do. But seeing another car pull in just as I’m approaching the drive, knowing I’ve missed a prime parking space literally by seconds, that’s a hefty shot of Gorgonzola.
I try not to let it bug me. I should think instead about finding a job so I can get WiFi at home. Then none of this will be a problem any more.
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Home WiFi … easier said than bought. I took the car in for inspection last week and it just barely squeezed by. The Jetta will be celebrating its twentieth birthday next year. It’s only got 153,000 miles on it—I didn’t drive this one across the country like I did the last one—but the bottom’s rusting out. Fortunately it’s mostly cosmetic, except for the wheel rod that’s rusting through and the better-than-average possibility I’ll end up with a hole in the floor. Even with that I can probably get another year of driving out of it. Hey, if no floor was good enough for Fred Flintstone, it’s good enough for me.
Only now I’ll have to start saving my pennies, because at some point before this time next year I’ll have to plunk ‘em down for a car that’s not rusted. There goes the WiFi fund. I might be able to stretch the car’s life if I suck it up and walk up that goddamn hill to the library. It would even do my body some good. If I have a heart attack, I won’t need a car because I won’t be driving. Always try to find the silver lining.