Wednesday, May 14, 2003

to distraction

Busy, busy, busy. I’ve been spending the better part of the last two weeks in preparation for a huge motorcycle race this weekend. This is the racetrack’s most attended event of the year, and my running has turned to scrambling in these past few days as all the last-minute details are moved into place. Or pounded into place with the heel of my shoe. I do love t-shirts, and they have provided me no end of variety and comfort in their service as the bulk of my wardrobe for twenty-nine years, but if I see one more I’m gonna start tearing out fistfuls of my hair.

This morning I traveled the fifteen minutes to the Regions Bank in neighboring Oakwood, Georgia, for the purpose of converting a five thousand-dollar check into a plenitude of cash. Two thousand in ones, twelve hundred fives, and so on, all smaller denominations to be split as bank between the several remote store locations we set up at various strategic points around the track. Meanwhile, in a seemingly unrelated floorboard, a slick, smelly, oily something has been leaking from the hidden depths of the steering column in my car for many months, the source of or correction for which the most knowledgeable mechanics have been as yet unable to determine. The optimist in me says it’s cable lubricant; the paranoiac says it’s power steering fluid. Whatever it is, it’s ruined three pairs of pants and thereby inspired me to wear ratty towels draped over my shins whenever I drive. Several times I have walked halfway through a parking lot before noticing these cotton shinguards are still clinging to my feet, and now I try to be more careful about remembering to remove them when I stop, just as I was careful to do upon arrival at the aforementioned Regions branch today.

The bank wasn’t crowded, but it took a little while for the teller to gather the piles of notes I was requesting. I stood to the side while several other customers were processed, drumming my hands on the counter, waiting for his order to come from the vault. They gave me a big bag made of heavy cloth in which to carry the cash, like Scrooge MacDuck without the spats, and I felt more than a little conspicuous walking back out to the car. I began digging in my pocket for the keys, picturing a fast, clean getaway. But I couldn’t find the keys.

I was still walking, about to put the bag down and search with both hands, when I saw them, swaying slightly from side to side where they hung in the ignition. And while the optimist in me believes no one would want the several quarters, old blue yo-yo, Muddy Waters cassette, and Pez dispenser capped with a pointy-eared Yoda bust to be gained by violating the drippy interior of my chariot, the pessimist in me always locks the door. So I’m standing in the middle of a parking lot with a bag full of small unmarked bills, and I have locked my keys inside the car.

As luck would have it, the stoner in me left the hatchback open.

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