Holiday confusion… and cheer!

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West Virginia postcardI’m completely convinced that the West Virginia Turnpike has, at some point in time, secretly become the West Virginia Speedway for Idiots. I think the special members of the club have “West Virginia Speedway for Idiots in the Hammer Lane” t-shirts they display proudly at their “Let’s Piss Everyone Off” meetings they hold at a steady 55 miles per hour in the left-hand lanes at all hours of the day and night.

I don’t think the problem is with people from West Virginia specifically — it seems like every state has a club full of members who insist upon doodling along in the fast lane, checking their Facebook status and Twittering about their new jock strap. Because that’s important. These are the only people on the planet who can make George Parker flip out.

I write all the time about how even-tempered George is, and if you read anything I write you have to know the man is extremely patient. He’s almost calm to a fault — he’s one of those people you actually want to see scream and yell once in a while. I’ve never quite figured out if he’s so calm because he doesn’t see any reason to put that much energy into something that isn’t productive, or if he’s afraid if he ever does let loose, he’ll strangle someone. That little bit of mystery has remained for 20 years, and I have a gut feeling I don’t really want to know the real reason. There is a such thing as knowing too much.

Anyway, the slow-lefters really got on his nerves this trip – he actually yelled. The combination of holiday traffic, slow lefters, and the fact we got news two hours from our destination that the launch had been canceled made the trip a little hairy. Since he had already driven six hours and the hotel room was nonrefundable, we pressed on to Wallops. And while I think it might be considered redundant to call someone an “assfart,” I think it did George some good to scream at the left-hand Lucies, because he went right back to being good ol’ George after a few choice expletives.

We ended up having a really great trip. We met a guy at the NASA Visitors Center who took a ton of time with us and helped George get a great photo spread about the flight installation, so make sure to catch it when it runs. We also got invited back, and that usually doesn’t happen for me, so it was an all-around great experience.

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We got a late start home — it was dark before we made the turnpike back through. George was in much better spirits. He’s always happier when we’re headed toward home. We got to the Chelyan toll booth and he said, “Watch this.”

Those two words, spoken from anyone else’s lips, generally pique my alarm center, but when George says it, I watch.

“I want to pay for the car behind me, too, please.”

The toll lady gave him change and we pulled away and watched in the rear view as the confused guy behind us tried in vain to hand her money.

“That was cool.”

“Meh. It’s two bucks. It might make someone’s day, that’s pretty cheap. Or, they’ll think we’re stalkers and get off on the next exit. Who knows? Merry Christmas to the universe, it’s the intention that counts.”

There’s a lesson somewhere in that little scenario, I can’t quite figure it out just yet, but Merry Christmas to the universe sounds good to me.