Here’s Your Sign – Of What I’m Not Sure

My family and I escape the craziness of our lives each year by vacationing at Cherokee Lake. We have relatives who owns a cabin there and they graciously allow us to invade it. This year our trip coincided with a family reunion.

We had barely greeted everyone when I saw Duke sniff DJ’s ear. Duke is DJ’s service dog who alerts us to infections.  Since DJ thinks he’s in a contest to have the most ear infections on the planet, Duke gets a lot of practice honing his skill. He has never been wrong.  Therefore, the family reunion was over and the new mission was to find a pharmacy.

Steve has this freakish ability to find his way around any town. Very, few times has he ever been lost. Me on the other hand, I could get lost going to the post office.   But when Steve is wrong, he is REALLY wrong and he doesn’t take it well.  When he is physically lost he also loses his sense of humor. The kids and I are absolutely NOT funny.  (We dispute this. In fact, we think it’s one of our funniest moments.) And while we’re being un-funny we lose our free speech right. We’re not allowed to say things like: let’s ask directions, I’m a little  hungry, I need to pee or haven’t we seen that Taco Bell three times now?

Take all of that and throw in DJ being sick and we’ve got the makings for a whole lot of crazy. While we were searching for the pharmacy that Steve was absolutely convinced was near, I saw an elderly man shirtless and wearing sweat pants. It was 100 degrees and he was sitting on the curb at a very busy intersection. Steve was too busy ranting about the  poor signage in the entire state of Tennessee to see the man. But luckily, “Turn around I think that man needs help” is not one of the banned phrases in the lost mobile.

We reached the man I got out to assess the situation. He stumbled around and spoke incoherently about the past and present blending them together as if they coexisted. I determined he wasn’t drunk and either had a heat related emergency or on going medical condition. Either way, he was unable to tell us where he lived so we couldn’t just leave him on the street.

When I told Steve to call 911 he looked at me blankly for a moment then said; “Well, I’d love to but I have no freakin’ idea where we are.” I suggested maybe 911 could help him find himself.  Nope. I still wasn’t funny. He curtly informed his phone had crashed so his only recourse was to look around for identifiable markers that a 911 operator might recognize.

Because the man can’t get out of bed each morning without a four page plan of how he will carry it out, he requested a moment to gather his thoughts. Really? You need a plan to dial 911? I hope I’m not depending on him if I ever get  run over by a bus or something. That’s what I was thinking. But we’ve been married long enough for me to know any remarks I had would just slow the process down.

When he felt reasonably sure he could guide emergency crews to our location he made the call. But for all of his preparing it turns out he still wasn’t prepared.  After relaying the circumstances, the 911 operator said; “Whose side are you on?” Confused, he asked her to repeat the question.   He paused as his brain searched for what information this woman was trying to get out of him. She prompted him again. “Whose side are you on?” In a halting questionable way he said,   “The….victim’s?”  She laughed because she didn’t know the “no one is funny when Steve is lost rule”.  “Whose side of the state line are you on?”

After emergency crews arrive I hop back in the car to find my husband turning this way and that, craning his neck looking around and muttering to himself. Heavy with righteous indignation he concludes; “There’s no state line sign. What state is she talking about?”  Boy, he really was lost. Unlike the boys I was smart enough to keep my comments to myself. They, however, did a whole comedy routine on the 911 incident declaring Steve would wind up on one of those “World’s Dumbest” programs.

Colton really should have thought it through.  After making all those jokes that did not amuse Steve, he recklessly asked to stop for a drink. When Steve denied the request Colton huffs up and says; “Dad. I’m a kid with aspergers in need of a drink.” From that moment on every time we passed a store Colton would press his face against the window, clawing at it like he was trying to escape and dramatically moan “water.” Did take much of that to make me need a drink.

Still searching for the elusive pharmacy when an explosion of stink fills the air. For reasons I’m still unclear of the dog pooped in the car. He’d never done it before or since but he certainly created pandemonium erupted. Colton was laughing, Dalton was bemoaning the smell, DJ was clapping (I don’t know why) and Steve was shouting. Steve whips the car into a church parking lot. When I looked up the sign in front of me read: “This is a sign from God”. Even Steve had to laugh.

Several hours later we made it back to the cabin after what should have only been a 45 minute trip.  Colton rolled out of the car still in an uproar, swearing he was dehydrated and planning to sue for child abuse. In the middle of Colton’s tirade Steve noticed a small cooler Colton had been using as a head rest. It was filled with water bottles.  Colton looked at me and said, “Well, now we know what the crap sign is about. Dad is gonna beat it out of me.”

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