Ah, holiday travel!
During Easter weekend, it seemed I heard a lot about things like hope and glory, the renewal of life and the triumph of good over evil.
Or something like that. Mostly what I got out of it was a mild euphoria associated with carbon monoxide poisoning from sitting in standstill traffic for several hours on the interstate. I can now do a variation on the old Henny Youngman joke: I once spent a decade in Fayetteville one afternoon.
It’s not just the holidays, either, at least when it comes to traveling I-95. It seems like every time I get on I-95 north, I somehow am forced to re-live a past life, one in which I am a Chinook Salmon trying with intense, single-minded determination to flop my way up the Columbia River with some vague notion that wonderful things are just beyond the next set of rapids. And like the salmon, I can’t remember why I am doing this, only that when it’s over, I will probably die, and by that time, death won’t be such a bad thing, if for no other reason than I’ll certainly be too worn out from the trip to think about anything like spawning.
Throw in an emergency stop -- and by emergency I mean you have weighed absolutely all options, up to and including ritual suicide -- at that holiest of holy Touron Traps, South of the Border, and you have just completed the descent into the hell that is holiday traffic.
The lessons to take away from this story, of course, are one, fish aren’t brain food -- they’re obviously pretty danged stupid and, two, I must have really ticked off the Almighty to not only have to live that fish’s life over and over again, but remember it with such clarity and insight.
If I ever figure out what exactly I did to get on her bad side, I sure won’t do it again, that’s for sure.
The main thing that struck me, as we sat stalled in the middle of this noxious, 400-mile-long, multi-lane parking lot the feds call an interstate highway one day and watching it with a decidedly un-Christian gloating the net, was that all of the traffic seemed to be in the northbound lane only. In fact, by the time I got back home I was wondering if by some Easter miracle the population of the Southeast Coast, from Wilmington to Miami, had suddenly shrunk by 97 percent because the Good Lord in all his infinite wisdom had made a special appearance for Easter for the sole purpose of convincing every Yankee on earth that, no, really, the promised land is actually just north of Trenton, New Jersey.
Hey, one can dream, right?
With all the hordes hitting the highways, I also had to wonder: Is the recession finally over? Or was it just an elaborate, nationwide hoax?
It seems to me if 200 bazillion people can afford gas prices that are at approximately the same level as, say, the price of an ounce or two of pure platinum, then we must not be doing that badly. On the other hand, after spending most of my entire paycheck on two tanks of gas, I had to finish that poor sucker off by buying and ingesting enough beer to make me forget about the un-anaesthetized fiscal colonoscopy I had just endured at the gas pumps. My remaining estate, all two $2.78 of it, will probably go to a personal effort to jump-start the fast food industry, thereby ensuring that I can start drawing my Social Security benefits by my 87th birthday, which by the way is the same day I plan to start smoking again.
I suppose that’s one way of stimulating the economy.
I wonder if Donald Trump needs a running mate.
(Jim Tatum is from Camden and a staff writer with Summerville Communications.)