Note: This story actually took place several weeks ago. I wrote it down in my notebook, but I didn’t get around to documenting it until now.
Errand day had arrived. No, not the enjoyable type of errand day; the dreaded kind that requires a little grocery shopping.
The day was complicated by the absence of a critical component of comfort in my mode of transportation: air-conditioning.
In the summer, cars without air-conditioning create petulant people who would bring Oscar the Grouch to tears.
I was no exception. But at least I tried to keep smiling, hoping it would make me feel better. It didn’t.
In hindsight: Isn’t it God’s providence that the air-conditioning went out a couple of weeks before this heat wave, and we were able to fix it? But hindsight is just that, and I relished being discontent in the moment.
I noticed something while in this uncomfortable predicament—something other than the need to wear extra antiperspirant. It is apparent who doesn’t have air-conditioning when it starts to rain. These are the poor souls with their windows down, adding wet rain to their bodies and clothes that have already become heavy with sweat.
What choice does one have in this situation? Either, you suffocate for the sake of keeping your car’s insides dry, or you sacrifice your car’s well-being for your life.
Each time that I approached an intersection, I prepared myself for a few lingering moments of torment.
With no airflow, the air was cruel and unyielding. The sweat on my skin flowed like tacky glue, adhering to any surface it touched. Even though my car has fabric seats, my legs still stuck like gooey chocolate cake to plastic wrap. Just like those bits of frosting and cake that come off when you peel back the plastic wrap, each time I moved the seat stole fragments of my skin.
At every stop, my nostrils were overrun with the scent of sweat and rain. Plus the dank aroma that southern Maryland seems to perpetually emit. I could almost taste saltiness in the air.
The sound of rainfall usually brings me to a state of calm and contentment, no matter what’s happening around me. The steady drops of rain on the top of the car were the only thing keeping me somewhat sane. But on this day, even the pleasant dripping of rain wasn’t enough to keep the pessimistic side of me under control.
At an always unpleasant intersection, I realized that my patience would be tried to its breaking point. As the rain began what seemed like an assault on the unwitting humans, the light remained red and obstinate for minutes. I could feel the joy draining from me, and I deflated deeper into my seat.
Out of the corner of my eye, I noticed movement in the truck, two cars ahead of me and one lane over. I stirred from my pity party stupor and watched.
My eyes widened, as a woman in a red t-shirt with the sleeves cut off, leaned out of her open window with an object in her hand.
Her ponytail was barely holding her undulating hair back, and she had a feral and untamed look in her eyes, as she glanced back and forth. (I imagine that I possessed a similar look in my eyes, simply from the inhumane torture of being without air-conditioning.)
I squinted, trying to make out what she held in her hand. Her arm began moving in an up and down motion across the outside of the windshield, above the steering wheel.
The moment of recognition came. Clenched in her fist was a spatula.
My amusement was so complete that my lips mouthed the words, “you’ve got to be kidding me.” I snorted, trying to contain my laughter. Oh, the eccentricities of Southern Maryland, I thought.
My enjoyment of this scene was momentarily interrupted by concern for the safety of others, but soon overtaken again by amusement.
She finished flailing her arm around, and I was close enough to see that it had done nothing to improve her view. Despite that, she was apparently feeling successful. She raised the spatula like a triumphant warrior, before throwing it in the car, dipping back into her seat and placing her hands at ten and two.
Driving home, I couldn’t help but be content. All I could say in response to my grumbling, amidst stifled chuckling was, “at least you don’t have a spatula windshield wiper.”