Following H as he drives is an experience I could do without. It is a bad nightmare! What was I thinking when in December I agreed to follow him to Tallahassee to attend the FSU Tri-State Honor Band Conference? He had band students in the school van with him and I was in my car. Although apprehensive about having to follow him in a city I knew nothing about, I was thinking – This will be great. I can catch up on some phone calls and listen to whatever I want on the radio – and it was for a while.
Leaving before six am put the first kink in the plan. Who could I call at this hour that would be willing to have a catch-up chat? No one I could think of. Being so close to Christmas, any station I could pick up clearly on the radio was ‘All Christmas Til Christmas’. That’s ok. I enjoyed Christmas music and maybe it would put me in the mood to do some of that shopping I had been putting off.
The first leg of the trip went smoothly because I knew where I was and we were traveling on the interstate. We made our first stop to eat some breakfast at McDonald’s. There is just so much I can eat at McDonald’s and for some reason band kids always want to stop there. It’s like their favorite place in the world to eat! Uggh.
After a breakfast of orange juice and a hash brown because that is all that looked interesting, we loaded the kids back up. Thank heavens I had my stash of little cuties and a can of salted pecans in the front seat of my car.
Now this is where the trip gets a little tricky venturing into unknown territory. “Do not drive off and leave me. Don’t whiz through yellow lights or zip across crowded intersections expecting me to be able to keep up with you. And turn your phone up so you can hear it ring. I may have to call you if I get lost.” These were my last words to H as he climbed into the van. I always have this fear of getting lost in a strange city when I have to follow him and this is why.
“Just stay behind me,” he said authoritatively as he shut the door.
I waited for him to back out intending to be right on his tail. And I waited and waited and waited some more. I could see him talking and turning back to look at the kids and waving his hands as though he was directing music. What is he doing now and why haven’t we pulled out yet?
Finally, and I kid you not – after ten minutes of this hand waving and talking he backed out of the parking space. I had already eaten a little cutie and a handful of nuts and could have used a re-fill on my drink.
About that Christmas music. It does get old after awhile. ‘Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer’ was embedded in my mind. Instead of visions of sugarplums, I had visions of stampeding reindeer running through my head. (No pun intended!)
The traffic was increasing as we got closer to town and I knew to stay close. Tallahassee has a lot of one way streets and four-way stops. H would stop at one of these and then go and of course I couldn’t follow him. I had to wait my turn. After a few blocks of this I could feel that tension headache beginning. He stopped, he went, turned right, turned left, and zipped across traffic – as I had asked him not to – and lost me. Or did I lose him? My kids tell me I drive too slow – maybe so.
Wait – there he is pulled off the side of the road waiting on me. He’s pretty good about that. Only problem was I was three lanes over from him and had no idea how far to travel on this street. Slowing down to a crawl and hoping he saw me, traffic zoomed by. I spied him in the rearview mirror as he came up behind me and then passed, getting in the lead again.
This went on for far too long. Instead of being run over by reindeer I was being run over by traffic! Cars would weave in and out of traffic getting between us and I would have to exceed the speed limit to catch up again. If I get a ticket you are going to pay for it, Buster! I needed a sign in my window reading ‘I’m traveling with him’.
I lost him again as he accelerated through a yellow light. Does he not even realize I have to stop on red or be mowed over? And turn signals – does he know how to access them?
When we finally reached our destination I took a deep breath, checking to make sure I was still alive and in one piece, and casually mentioned he had left me stranded a few times.
His reply – “All you have to do is stay behind me.”
I didn’t even answer that. I was not going to go there!