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I decide to reward myself with a #2 combo. It would be an easy order. My food should come out quickly, allowing me to get on the road faster. The cashier welcomes me at the first window, takes my payment, and invites me to pull a few yards farther to the next window. At this second window, I am again greeted, handed a beverage, and asked to pull up a few more yards. “Just behind that red van” the worker says. I do as I was asked, and wait. And wait. And wait. I take a sip of my drink. It is sweetened tea and I gag; I had ordered unsweetened. I put the drink I hadn’t ordered down. I continue waiting. Cars from behind are getting their meals before me, pulling out of sight. And I wait. Thirty minutes pass by when a worker finally taps on my drivers’ side window and hands me my bag: a sandwich that is slightly burnt and hash browns. A half hour behind schedule, sure, but what’s a half hour in the grand scheme of things? I make my way down the road.
Fifty-five miles later, I am glad to reach my third journey marker (number three out of twelve). It soon is slipping by. I quickly come up on a large semi. No matter, I know the route well: the hill we will reach in a matter of seconds will make him easily passable.
We reached a woman clad in a neon jumpsuit. I’m merely feet behind the truck, preparing to pass, when I notice her. She makes no motions at the truck but begins doing jumping jacks on the side of the road to slow me to a halt. I look at her questioningly. Is this real? Is she really a flagger with no flag? Must she really do jumping jacks every time she wants to stop a moving vehicle? And where are the road construction signs? The road construction workers? The road construction trucks? Aside from lacking these fairly major indicators and from the flagger lacking a fairly major utility for a flagger, she does seem to be legitimate. She literally is dressed head to toe in the brightest yellow known to man and she does have a hard hat. I stop looking at her, trying to figure out if I could be in the midst of a zany experiment which is striving to see if ordinary drivers like me will really stop if the only cue to is a bit of bright yellow. Her stares have made me uncomfortable: ever since I stopped she has intently been looking at me (a factor that adds to my wonder at this being an experiment or not). Cars begin to line up behind me. Not many, maybe three or four. I look back up after minutes of purposely looking down at my lap. She hasn’t moved a muscle. She’s still staring. And the minutes are still passing. Finally, she makes her way to my car.
No. Not to my car. Passed my car. She goes to the car behind me. They chat for a minute and the driver then pulls passed me and carries on with their trip. My eyebrows jerk in close out of pure perplexity. I stare intently at my rearview mirror, watching as the woman looks up at my car for a moment and then continues on to the next car in line. Each time she talks to the driver for a minute and then they pass me by. Each time she looks to my car. Finally, when I am the last car left, she makes her way to me. Dazed, confused, befuddled, I roll down my window, thankful for the pepper spray near my right hand. She makes it to my car. “I didn’t know if you were working on your checkbook. You can go. There’s road construction, so be aware of that.”
“O – Okay …” I manage to reply. I put my car in drive. I press on the accelerator. She stares at my car until I make it passed the hill. I look forward to being home.