Saturday, February 14, 2009

Things we take for Granted

Last Thursday, I was on my way to work, when I noticed traffic building up considerably on Curry Ford a half mile from the Greenway, Route 417. 417 is a beltway around Orlando on the east coming down from Sanford and ending at the Disney theme parks. It is also my way to work. I have it timed to 23 minutes from start to finish leaving my house in Waterford and trekking south on 417 to Landstar and finally work. There was a meeting I needed to get to at 8:30, so I left the house early at eight o'clock. It was 8:10 and first seconds, then minutes started quickly draining through my hands. After some went by, I realized that the meeting was out of the question. Out the window went my grandiose idea about a Word Mural with encouraging Valentine messages from colleagues to each other for our "B" House Friday Valentine event. I fumbled through my purse and couldn't find my phone. No problem. I still had plenty of time to get to work. I heard on the radio there had been a terrible accident on the Greenway, and someone had lost their life in a gruesome turn of events. I wished the radio station I was listening to would have said something or even a short prayer for the families of those involved. This was a major accident really. I changed the channel and found local news.

One of the consequences was that 417 was shut down on all lanes going south from Curry Ford to the 528. What astonished me was that I did not see any police directing traffic either on Curry Ford or Econolockhatchee Trail, with the overspill. At 8:30, having only advanced one mile, I turned on Econolockhatchee thinking this will take me to Lee Vista and then to Narcoosee straight down to 417, but the two lane road was backed up for miles, so I turned around and managed to get on Curry Ford again heading East, by then it was 8:43. I was starting to get a bit anxious. In two minutes I would be late to work.

By then I was sure I had left my phone at home, and frantically looked around for a pay phone. There was one on the right corner at the CVS Pharmacy, but I was on the left turning lane to get on Chickasaw. I thought I will scan the strip mall ahead and see if they have a phone. Nope no phone. I turned. As I passed Liberty Middle School, I thought maybe I could drop in there and use their phone but kept going instead. Then I noticed some early morning walkers turning around and staring blankly as if asking why are so many cars careening down our normally quiet road? As if they owned it. Brushing that off, I continued down the road noticing large amounts of students milling around bus stops, where normally there would be none. Buses were late. Student were busy making phone calls. Traffic slowed as we neared Lee Vista. Again I made another bad choice and turned on a dead end street. Turning around, I got on Chickasaw again. Wasted another 5 minutes.

I knew then I had to stop now a make a call. There ahead on the left was a side entrance to a strip mall which had a Publix. Two other people ahead of me were also asking for help. The manager obliged. One person was given directions, another a lotto ticket, and I was able to make my calls. Our substitute coordinator informed me at least five other teachers were also in my same predicament and he had no way to help. It was now 9:20. Within minutes I had arranged for other teachers to take my students that would be arriving to class in the next ten minutes. Relief.

When I got in the car, I found my phone. It had been there all along, tucked behind some cards out of view. I still had to make it to work, but I had bought some time. After driving for two hours, I finally made it to work. I was somewhat frazzled. My students wanted the details of my odyssey. I had had a frazzled morning, one person had lost their life.

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