Friday, December 11, 2009

A busy evening in the Curmudgeon home

Long Suffering Spouse's principal thought it might be nice to have this year's school Open House before Christmas instead of after. For one thing, there would be no need to agonize over a theme for the school decorations, right?

Thus it was decided that the Open House would be Thursday, December 10, from 7:00 to 9:00pm. The sub-zero wind chills were an extra added bonus for the occasion -- and powerful incentive for me to get home before my wife had to leave to go back to school. The walk from the train can be pleasant in nice weather -- it more resembles a doomed expedition in search of the North Pole in weather like this. I am unashamed to beg a ride.

Long Suffering Spouse planned to come home after school and before the Open House to get dinner ready. She knew she'd have to leave at some point to pick me up and also to pick up Youngest Son. As I mentioned just yesterday, I'd been driving him to school because of the ice and snow.

Middle Son announced at some point that he and a friend had scheduled an early evening appointment to view an apartment in the People's Republic of Oak Park but even this did not unduly complicate matters. We have two cars; he could take one.

But then came the crushing complication: Oldest Son advised that he'd also scheduled his first Pre-Cana conference at our parish church for Thursday night. Someone would have to pick him and his fiance up from the train and take them over to the church -- and drive them back to Lincoln Park afterward. (Oldest Son has no car. I had to drive him and his fiance back to Lincoln Park after Thanksgiving dinner, too. At 1:00am. I was thrilled.)

But Oldest Son's appointment would not necessarily create too great a problem. All that had to happen was that I get home before Oldest Son and his fiance. And since their appointment at the church was at 7:30 and my wife had to be at school at 7:00 anyway, I did not see any particular difficulty.

So it came to pass that, yesterday, after a hard morning of blogging, I settled down to actual work. I was unusually productive, churning out letters and -- of vital import to my future happiness -- bills. By 5:30 or so, though still productive, I knew I must pull up stakes and head home.

And I did.

But I was too late.

Oldest Son and his fiance decided to come straight from work without pausing for dinner at any of the numerous establishments provided in Chicago's Loop or adjoining environs for just such a purpose. Thus, as I was riding home on the train, minding my own business, my phone beeped. Youngest Son texted me: "Mom says where the hell are you?" (The kids seem to take unnatural glee when either of us resort to, shall we say, informal language in their presence.)

I texted back: "On the train. Approaching Montrose." Actually when I started, we'd just pulled out of Addison... but I can only push the buttons so fast. Irving Park came and went whilst I was composing this little response.

I was on the point of pushing "Send" when the phone rang. Now Youngest Son was calling. "Where are you?" he demanded. "I was trying to tell you but you called before I could send the text," I said, and then I told him we were approaching Montrose.

(Why do the kids think texting is so much more efficient? I could say where I was in a second or so, but it had taken a couple of minutes at least to tap out that same message.)

Youngest Son told me that Oldest Son and his fiance had already called for a ride. "I can't be more than a train or two behind them," I said, as the train in fact pulled into Montrose.

An acrid stench of burning rubber filled the car as soon as the doors opened. I claim no special expertise in light rail maintenance, but I believe the brakes lock up on the railcars from time to time and smolder. I had to get off one el car recently because the smoke had got thicker every time the doors opened to the point where it was plainly visible, even to me.

It wasn't that bad last night, not at Montrose. It was thicker at Jefferson Park, but a CTA employee got on my car there with some tools. The motorman announced we'd be standing for awhile. I watched the nice CTA lady try and figure out how to put out the fire.

I composed an update for Youngest Son. "The train is on fire but the lady is working to put it out. We are at Jefferson Park." That I was able to compose and send such a lengthy text will give you some sense of the length of time we were standing.

Apparently the nice CTA lady's efforts were not entirely successful. After climbing back up off the track, the lady radioed forward to the operator that she'd have to ride to O'Hare to finish the work. She sat down and the train resumed its homeward course.

"Do you want Mom to come get you at Jefferson Park?" texted Youngest Son.

"No," I texted back immediately. I followed up with a message that we were rolling again.

I finally got to my stop -- and Long Suffering Spouse and Oldest Son and his fiance were all waiting for me. And not very patiently either. Youngest Son was not among them; they'd heard nothing about the train being on fire -- and they were somewhat skeptical.

And then there was the lane closure on Harlem Avenue that snarled traffic in the area... by the time we got home from Wendy's (where Oldest Son and his fiance had decided to get their dinner) it was nearly 7:00. Thus everyone got to eat dinner but Long Suffering Spouse.

I was in the doghouse for sure.

I'm in the office now.

But I'm still in the doghouse.


Jean-Luc Picard said...

Just another day in Curmugeon land!

Empress Bee (of the high sea) said...

i HATE it when that happens!

smils, bee

Shelby said...

oh well. keep your chin up. :)

Lawfrog said...

Oh man, that is terirble. You're already having a crazy night of going here and there and everywhere, then the train catches on fire? That sounds like a horrible sitcom. :)