My drive home today was mildly bizarre, and not for the usual reasons. There is plenty of weird to be had along the NJ Turnpike, just yours for the observing--not the least of which is the old Hydro-Pruf building seen in the opening credits of The Sopranos, which in all its derelict glory now spells out "Hydro-P-U." Am I the only person who finds that incredibly and ironically--albeit sophomorically--snork-inducing for a designated Superfund cleanup site in Newark that lies less than a half-mile from the Passaic River?
Today's weirdness happened much closer to home. I was already deeply annoyed on leaving Jerky City, not so much because I was upset that I couldn't go bowling with my summer students (an activity for which I nevertheless got paid, mind you) as because of the reason. Which was that my teaching assistant flaked out for the third time in as many hours and, in the course of the 10 minutes it took to fill out his time sheet, apparently forgot that I was following him to Hudson Lanes in Bayonne. And left. Without me. While my ass was parked on a bench in front of the building waiting for him. After about 20 minutes I tried to track him down, but the office was closed and shuttered. I stomped the three blocks down Van Reypen towards the parking lot, cussing all the while in every form of slang I know, where I discovered that his car was, indeed, no longer in the lot. I'd been dissed by a little Dominican dude who's so fresh out of college his loans haven't even come due yet. Fucking swell.
I also hadn't slept particularly well (whole other story), plus my satchel was bulging with reading placement tests I would have to spend the whole weekend grading (see "little Dominican dude", above, for why I had to grade all 58 of them), my windshield was starred from random debris flying up during the commute in, and I was having a bad hair day. Actually, it's kind of been a bad hair summer, but that's also another whole other story. So anyway, I was pretty cranky for most of the drive home, despite spending much of it finally catching up with an old friend with whom I'd been playing phone tag.
When I got off the freeway, I found myself behind a Buick of uncertain model, one of those newer models that are all interchangeable, with the ubiquitous looped-ribbon support magnet. This one was pink, for breast cancer, though the car was driven by a middle-aged man. Either his convertible was in the shop and he was reduced to driving the wife-mobile, he was a statistical anomaly (since men of course also have breasts, and can thus get breast cancer) or he had pretty stodgy taste in vehicles and really, really loved his wife. Hopefully this wasn't some sort of somber, mobile memorial to her, since when I pulled up alongside at the next light I noticed three identical magnets slapped willy-nilly on the doors and quarter-panels.
He was ahead of me at the next light, and that's when I noticed the pink bumper sticker. Sadly, the cell-phone picture didn't come out, but the bumper sticker said simply, "cancer sucks." Which only another survivor can truly appreciate as hysterically funny. I was so busy trying to capture this moment of gallows humour glory while laughing so hard I was almost crying, that I nearly swerved into the flatbed tractor trailer in the right-hand lane. Which would have been a really, really bad thing. Because on closer inspection (much closer than I would have liked, in fact, for two very different reasons) this tractor trailer--whose bed was stacked with rows and rows of strange, slatted boxes contained in a swath of fine netting--seems to have been carrying bees.
Not beer, not beets, not beef. Bees. Honeybees, I'm sure, but after my immediate response, which was to start itching frantically in some sort of sympathetic psychic allergic reaction to my mother, sister, ex-boyfriend, and mother-in-law, my mind moved onto the more--pardon the pun--pedestrian question. Why?
Not why honeybees; that much was obvious. Honeybees make honey. Any moron who loves peanut butter sandwiches and herb tea can tell you that much. In fact, I'm one such moron myself. No, my question is, why trucks? It's true that the only other method of bee shipment I've ever heard mentioned was by mail order--and can you imagine that? Getting a mail order box of bees? You open your mailbox innocently one day and there's this small, angry, buzzing package inside?--but this method of transport seems to me particularly silly. I mean, don't they have wings? Why do they have to take trucks to get where they're going? Can't they just fly there?
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