Saturday, August 22, 2009

You scream, I scream, we all scream!

Yesterday was a slightly frustrating day. I was woken up bright and early by huge lightning flashes outside and pouring down rain. Since I was up, I had every intention of getting to school early and finishing up my work for the week and just breezing through the day into the glorious weekend. The universe had different plans for me.

First off, when it rains in Dallas, there might as well be a foot of ice and snow on the ground because there are traffic jams and five car pileups on every major roadway in the metroplex. I've been here for three years and still haven't figured out why people can't drive in the rain. It baffles the mind.

So I leave the house about 30 minutes earlier than normal and wind through the streets in my neighborhood and onto the road that leads to the highway to find that cars are backed up for about a mile just waiting to get onto the interstate. When cars are backed up this far, it takes about 30 minutes just to travel the one mile to the highway. And I was not about to sacrifice my unusually early wake time just to sit in traffic in the rain. So I promptly crossed the street and took the shortcut, just off the main road, that put me on the on-ramp in about three minutes flat. After I got on the highway, I looked at the long line of cars lined up on the overpass just sitting there waiting in my rear view mirror. The thought occurred to me, "Why did NONE of those people use the short cut by the Harbor?"

The Harbor is a huge and very cool shopping complex located on the lake where I live. It is the first thing you see when you cross the huge bridge that runs across the lake into town. It's one of the things Rockwall is known for. So obviously, the location of my shortcut was not some obscure out of the way backroad twisting through neighborhoods or something. It's a fairly major thoroughfare that leads straight to the highway. And this morning, NO ONE was using it. Everyone was just following the person in front of them, sitting there frustrated and late for work, falling in line with the status quo. I couldn't figure it out. I bet most of the people in that mile long line waiting to get on the highway have lived in Rockwall far longer than I have and surely would know the roadways better. Yet there they were. All still just sitting there seething with anger and frustration at the traffic in their hybrids and SUV's.

My husband uses this phrase sometimes when we're watching the nightly news, "It's the dumbing down of America." And I thought to myself as I looked at the traffic, "THIS is the dumbing down of America." People just following the person in front of them. This is why fear and paranoia are so rampant in our country. People are just screaming what the person next to them is screaming and not thinking through the issues. This is why people are not just passively accepting that major corporations and insurance companies are being allowed to deny insurance for (and essentially killing) MILLIONS of people who need healthcare the most, they're actually SCREAMING and FIGHTING for it. Just yell what the person next to you is yelling. Just get in line and sit in traffic for a mile. There must not be another way out, because this is the way we've always done it, and this is what everybody else is doing.

So these were my thoughts as I drove the 20 minutes to school. After I arrived, I went inside to the copy center to pick up my fabulous posters that I had spent hours designing and about $50 printing and shipping to my house. They were being laminated in the copy center. When I walked into the room, the lady who runs the place immediately yells across the room, "Mrs. Cochran, did you come in here last night and try to laminate your own posters? Because you broke the laminator and both of your posters are ruined!"

"WHOA. Hold on a sec. I was not up here last night, and besides that I would never DREAM of touching any of the equipment in here. And you're telling me my posters are gone? Those things cost me fifty bucks!"

So this was the start to my day. I was screaming bad words in my head by this point. Without much fanfare I headed out to my portable and just concentrated on putting the finishing touches the room for Monday. The rest of the day went okay but left me feeling very tired and frustrated with life in general.

But then the Cowboys won their first game in the new stadium. And that made things just a little bit better. And now I'm sitting in a quiet house on a Saturday morning thinking up ice breakers to use to introduce the kids to each other next week. Here's hoping the new posters come in soon and there's no rain next week...