Wednesday, December 29, 2010

The Commute

I have an idea for a spin off movie from The Hangover. Actually, it’s based on my experience this past Monday. It would be appropriately called, The Commute.

Zach Galifianakis plays the man who gave me a push and later randomly meets me at a night club in the new movie, The Commute, based on a true story.  I would imagine (at least in my mind) Tom Cruise or James Franco playing the role of myself.
I left a snowy and icy Munster at 4:30 pm on Monday afternoon; giving me plenty of time to get back to Borken in time for basketball practice at 8 pm. As I got into my car, I could see traffic gridlocked as far as I could see. However, waiting until later would only mean more rush hour traffic, so I got into the car and jumped into the gridlocked traffic.

Once stuck in traffic, the ice on the road was so bad that it took a few seconds to get going in the “stop and go” traffic. At one point, I couldn’t gain any traction for a full minute and the guy who was driving behind me had to get out and give me a push. I wanted to pull over right then and there, but had no option to do that at the moment. I pressed on through the city center, skating from one street light to the next. In addition to the accidents on the road, only a handful of cars could get their cars going fast enough to make it through the intersection each light. It was a disaster.

Finally, the roads cleared a little bit by the time I made it to the Autobahn. I made it at a break neck pace of 60 km/hour (36 miles per hour) for a while down the Autobahn (so much for no speed limit) until the fog rolled in. And it rolled in quickly and was really thick. A couple miles later, and I can’t see a thing. Not only was I dealing with snow and ice on the roads, I was now contending with dense fog. I wondered if God was going to bring locusts next. The fog brought me out of the “Just really concentrate, go very slow and you’ll be ok” mode into the “Am I going to die?” mode. I reviewed our family’s life insurance policy in my head. That was my queue to get off of the Autobahn.

So, here is the new rule of life:

1. If you are doing something that makes you think about your life insurance policy, you should immediately stop!

I crawled off the Autobahn at the next possible exit. At the end of the exit, I could barely read the sign which was covered in snow telling me where the nearest towns were. I could see a couple of towns that were 8 & 10 km’s away to the right and there was a covered up name that was 1 km to the left. It was a no brainer: take a left to the no-named village 1 km away.

After driving 1 km that felt like 20 km’s I pulled into a parking lot of a small shopping center and stopped the car. I was safe, but now what? Where was I? What was I going to do?

I walked around the small city to figure out where I was. I saw that I was in a small town called Appel- something. There were a couple of restaurants, a brothel, a hotel, and a gas station from what I could see.

I found the town’s only pay phone near the center of town. I put in 50 cents and hoped for the best. I got a hold of Dana on the phone. I had 1 minute and 5 seconds to talk. Dana was met by a frantic voice saying, “It’s me. I am stuck somewhere near the Autobahn. I don’t know where I am, or what I am going to do tonight. All I know is that I am not driving any more. Please call Borgi” (my basketball coach.) She could tell I was really stressed, so she gave her best advice, “You will figure something out, I am sure. Good luck.” I was back on my own.

I went to Hotel Bonaparte to see what the room rates were, but nobody was there. The brothel’s neon signs clearly indicated it was open for business, and I contemplated for a moment if I could get a room for the night without committing to a ‘Thai massage.’ This was probably not a good idea. Now what?

It was only 6:30pm, so I had time to make it back to Munster, where at least there would be more options to stay. How would I get there? I asked a pedestrian if there was a train station in town and was told that there was one 15 minutes by foot down the road. I decided to make the long walk down the dark road to the train station.

This would be a good time to mention that it was 16 degrees (-8 degrees Celsius) and feeling in my legs were starting to go numb. I felt like Aubrey on Christmas Vacation when the family was out getting a Griswold Family Christmas tree.

15 minutes later, I found the train station. The only reason I found it was because I ran into the train tracks. The station was on the other side of the road, and because of the dense fog, I couldn’t see the train station.

Not surprisingly, the next train to Munster was delayed by 10 minutes when I arrived at the platform (Uncovered, by the way, from the cold weather). The delay grew to 20 minutes; then 30 minutes. As I waited on the platform, my legs started to lose even more feeling. I had to use the restroom, I think. How could I really know?

The train finally arrived before I involuntarily wet myself and it was a short ride back to Munster. Feeling came back to my feet and legs and I was on my way back to the office around 7:30pm. I called Dana from my office and explained, more calmly, the situation. I booked a cheap hotel in Munster to stay the night.

That’s pretty much where the story ends. The movie, called The Commute, could potentially add a crazier night in Munster to make it more interesting. I, on the other hand, ate a nice dinner and spent the night (18 month old child free) in Munster before working at the University the next day.  Nobody (at least they didn't tell me to my face) noticed that I was wearing the exact same outfit two days in a row. 

Later that day, I took the train back to Appelhulsen in the afternoon to retrieve the car (thank goodness it was still there and not towed away) and continued my journey back to Borken, 24 hours after leaving initially.

The Netto in Appelhulsen, where I left the van for the night.

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