Tuesday, January 03, 2006


At Bradley we are fortunate to have off the week between Christmas and New Year's. Trudging back into the building yesterday morning, I was greeted by several people who wished me a happy new year - and some who quickly added that they would have enjoyed another week off.

Well, I am hoping for a good new year, but this one didn't get off to a great start. I would also enjoy another week off, but I also feel a little safer here in my cubicle! I didn't explain all this to the well-wishers, so I will do that here.

First, I think we are much more vulnerable than we usually let ourselves believe.

New Year's Day. I am driving down Interstate 55 for a family gathering. At my nephew's request, I bring along my dog Lucy.

I hear a bang from underneath the hood and see white smoke out the back. I pull off the road. A patrolman will pass by soon.

I call my sister. She can get here in about an hour.

I call the motor club. They can't locate any help. I have in my purse the number for a Peoria towing service. They will come, but I have to pay in cash. I look in my wallet. OK, I say hesitantly. I'll worry about that once he gets here.

No one else to call now.

A brown ribboned cornfield to my right. An old farmhouse in the far distance. Lucy watches the traffic rip past us. She is trembling. The trucks shake the car as they pass.

I am alone. No one seems to see me.

The patrolmen are sleeping in after New Year's Eve.

I sit for an hour. No one sees me.

My sister calls my phone. "I see you, I see you!" She goes to the next exit and turns around so she is heading my direction. We unload everything of value from the car and then help Lucy into the van.

I feel like laughing and crying. She has some cash.

Before heading home, we find a Starbucks. Ice water for Lucy and huge lattes for us. We sit in the van for a while and savor the calming hot liquid. We aren't anxious to get back on the highway.

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