There is a local highway construction zone where a stretch of cement barriers provides the charming experience of driving with about six inches of clearance on either side of your car. It reminds me of the ventilation shaft Luke Skywalker flew through to blow up the Death Star, only it’s twisty, not straight.
There are all kinds of signs warning “Caution!” “Reduced Speed Ahead” and “Speed Limit 35.” They’re the kind of signs that make construction-weary drivers say, “Here, hold my beer,” because it looks like you could fly through it at 55, until you realize you can’t unless you want to give your local body shop some business.
If you’re asking someone to hold your beer while you’re driving, you’re probably going to give your local body shop some business anyway. I'm talking about the funeral home.
So there I am, driving through it last week, thinking about bulls-eying womp rats in my T-16 (okay, seriously, I’m done with the Star Wars references) when something crawls across the lens of my sunglasses. I take them off while commencing through the ventilation shaft and discover . . . a TICK!
I generally don’t get excited about bugs unless they’re spiders in places they shouldn’t be (anywhere within a five mile radius of my person) but we’ve been so programmed to worry about Lyme and other tick-borne diseases, just seeing one launches an automatic GETITTHEHELLOFFMENOW reaction.
Without thinking, my left hand reflexively slammed down the driver’s side window button since my brain’s immediate solution was to chuck the sunglasses out of the car. This would have handily resolved the problem but since they are Ray Ban frames with prescription lenses, that seemed a little hasty.
My second reaction was to slam on the brakes and leap out of the car to dispose of the interloper. Since I was in a line of traffic, this was not a wise choice, either. Besides, those lanes are so narrow I'm not sure I could have even gotten the door open, and at my age, crawling out of the window Dukes of Hazard style is out of the question unless the vehicle is actively on fire. (Okay, NOW I’m done with 1970s movie and TV references. Promise.)
So I continued flying through the cement maze, trying not to go faster than the car ahead of me, which would have created a whole new set of problems. I had one hand on the wheel, one hand holding my glasses, one eye on the road and one eye on Mr. Tick, who was crawling merrily along as I plotted his demise.
No! Wait! Damn it! He'd disappeared. Where the hell did he go? Auuuuugh! Now he was on my hand! Those little suckers are like puppies and toddlers - they can move at the speed of light when they're going somewhere they shouldn’t. And they know you want to kill them so they’re not going to sit still and wait for it to happen.
I grabbed the offending arachnid (yep, arachnid‚—spider family, eight legs, count em, and I've mentioned how I feel about spiders) between thumb and forefinger, gritted my teeth and tried not to let the heebie-jeebies get the better of me. The only thing worse than a spider is a blood-sucking spider.
Now I’m driving with a potentially disease-carrying vampire bug clenched in my right hand. I’m sure that sentence alone would absolve me of any responsibility in case of a wreck but I’m not sure my insurance guy has forgiven me for the “A raccoon fell out of the rafters and knocked the outside mirror off my van” phone call from a few years back.
What happened next involved complicated hand-waving as if invoking an ancient spell, combined with prayer and some very bad language. I’m not a fan of multi-tasking but when push comes to tick, I have skills I wasn’t aware of.
I got the window down, kept the car cruising through the ventilation shaft without ricocheting off anything and forcibly ejected Mr. Tick out the window without sending my sunglasses with him. My biggest fear was the wind would blow him right back in, only this time he'd land in my hair.
I can only imagine what the construction workers thought when they saw a woman flinging her hand out the window while yelling, "Aaaaiiiieeeeee, be gone!"
Next week: back to our regularly scheduled puppy updates. Also known as the Red Demon Chronicles.