This time the juju object was very clear – it was this ugly beast (and don’t you dare say “but the truck it’s leaning on looks just fine…”):
That, dear friends, is our U-Haul truck that we drove from Arizona to Chicago – and the juju object is that horrible auto transport trailer attached to the back of it.
Husband is terrified of my driving. I don’t think it’s warranted, but every time I drive over a curb when he’s in the car I have to concede he kind of has a point. He was okay letting me drive the truck – he made me the night driver! – but he kept cringing and gasping and offering helpful pointers and advice and by the time we pulled into Chicago I swore that if I could just navigate the damn truck to our hotel destination without crashing then I would get Shut The Hell Up About My Driving (STHUAMD) rights for the rest of my life.
That oath was my downfall.
I swore that oath in my own head just as we were turning from the 55 onto the 94, which during nighttime rush hour was nothing less than an overwhelmingly congested evil many-laned Cerberus nightmarish unholy beast of a feat to attempt in a U-Haul the size of Texas. I had to get over two lanes in about a block and NO ONE was letting me in because Chicago drivers are all (excuse my language) total assholes.
But out of nowhere, some angel decided to pause and let me in. He waved, I waved, and I started to merge.
And then the bad juju exploded.
See, when that gentleman got to telling us the story later, he explained that he had thought our auto transport trailer with our car on it was just another sneaky Chicago driver trying to get in behind our U-Haul. So what does my angel do? He jumps forward to try and cut off the other car. The other car which is attached to my truck.
All I know is I’m going along just fine and then all of a sudden that car is way too close and then there’s a screech and a thunk as the trailer and his bumper collide.
Simple as that, in a span of seconds, away flew all my STHUAMD rights. Evaporated. Forever. And I still had to figure out a way to get back across three lanes just to get off the damn freeway and exchange information.
So after a lot of merging and getting shunted to other freeways and off ramps and neighborhood driving trying to find a spot big enough to pull over our four-axle cruise liner, we finally managed to stop and get things squared away (with a sprinkle of good juju, because his bumper was scraped up a little but our trailer was fine and we had damage coverage anyway even though we never buy damage coverage or insurance or warranties for anything in our blessed lives). And then there we were, stranded in the dark in a strange city in a strange neighborhood about which we knew absolutely nothing.
We didn’t know what the hell to do. We just turned right and right and right (and maybe right and right again, for all I remember) – and then the juju rollercoaster hit a new high. Within a single nerve-wracking minute, there loomed a sign – for the 94 heading north! Seriously, if you’d seen all the damn turns I had to make to get off that damn freeway, you’d be way more impressed. Imagine we were in Wonderland or the Labyrinth or something. It was like that.
Anyway, a few miles later we came to our exit… and the juju coaster plummeted again when we failed to locate our hotel. I had thought the directions I had memorized would be easy (ha!) and instead we circled forever through a maze of one-lane tiny neighborhood roads searching fruitlessly for the damn place. We eventually pulled over and the husband excavated his iTouch only to relearn that its battery was dead, and then booted up the laptop but found only poorly-named secured wireless networks in that isolationist little yuppie backwater neighborhood in which we found ourselves.
So I called my sister to beg for internet help – and gave her the wrong hotel name because they all sound the same to me and I was being an idiot. And still she managed to interpret my idiocy and sent some good juju our way in the form of accurate directions to our hotel, which was apparently only two short blocks away.
As we pulled into the hotel parking lot all full of jubilant relief at the realization that our horrible post-car-accident trauma was finally over, we caught sight of a Chipotle across the street. Dinner secured! The good juju meter was off the charts by now.
So we checked in and got back in the truck to re-park around the back of the hotel, got out all our belongings including our stuffed animals and overnight bags and musical instruments and potted plants (so that they all wouldn’t freeze in the car), and got to the door – and the juju flat-lined again when the husband started searching for our room keys.
For ten minutes we sat there rooting through all our stuff out in the cold trying to find those keys which we’d just been given mere moments before. Nothing. Finally some lovely ladies showed up and let us into the building, but that still couldn’t get us into our room which stood so agonizingly nearby around the corner behind the first door on the right.
Husband finally gave up and bade me wait with the stuff while he went off to get a new room key from the front desk. He was gone awhile, and I got bored and wandered over to the door to our room…
…And found it ajar.
I was already unpacked and watching TV by the time he showed up again.