Me and Mr. Nobody

Log a few miles on any rainy highway, and you’re sure to buzz past some pathetic soul, pottering along at a dangerously-pokey pace. The hazard lights may be flashing. No doubt the driver is hunched over, face grimly set, fingers clamped around the steering wheel with fearful determination.

And as you’ve breezed by, shedding road spray, perhaps you’ve wondered:

Who are these idiots? Why are they so slow? And why don’t they stay off the damn roads?

Well, I am one of those idiots.

I didn’t plan to be an idiot. It just happened.

Mom hired a private duty nurse to stay with Brynn in the hospital last night, ensuring me seven hours of sleep in my own bed. Never mind the 126-mile round trip. It was worth it.

I had just left the hospital, and was still in the heart of the city, when — Zzzzip! — my windshield wiper commit suicide, flinging itself into the next lane.

The driver’s side wiper, that is.

It flew from the car so quickly, it reminded of a grasshopper springing through summer grass.

Only my wiper didn’t choose a pastoral setting. It abandoned ship in a bad part of town. The lock-your-door, don’t-stop-at-red-lights sort of place.

I considered the magnitude of my loss — even thought about retrieving it — but forged on.

“You have to go somewhere,” Martin said when I called. “It’s already after 9 and you’re heading back there tomorrow at 6 am?” The next wave of biblical rain was on its way.

Halfway home, I stumbled into a Walmart, bought wipers, and threw them into the car. (Installing the wiper on site? Out of the question. I can fix horses and dogs. And occasionally kids. But I don’t do cars.)

Instead I joined the idiot drivers’ club, plodding along in the right lane, hunched over the wheel, measuring the distance between my tires and the lane markers. Once the rain began, it was impossible to see straight ahead. So I leaned as far as I could into the passenger seat. As if I was sharing a long, drawn out secret with Mr. Nobody.

On the final miles of my journey, I discovered that I didn’t need to see. I know that back road so well, I could drive it blind, gazing through tendriled streaks of rain and darkness. The drunken telephone poles, tipped toward the road, served as my guide.

Early this morning Martin installed the new wiper and I set out again, but soon discovered that the real problem rests with the wiper mechanism. The new wiper seized up amidst the monsoon.

Fortunately, I wasn’t alone. I had Mr. Nobody riding shotgun.

And we had a nice, long chat.