Do you remember these jokes? When God passed out…noses, I thought He said “roses”, and I asked for a big one. When He passed out heads, I thought He said “beds”, and I asked for a big soft one.  And with legs, I thought He said, “kegs”, and I asked for two fat ones.

Last Friday, I went to catch the evening AMTRAK to Chicago. I jockeyed with a man for parking.  With three books and a journal packed, the 4 ½ hour trip would be both relaxing and productive. Another bonus: time to review my speech for my morning presentation in Gurnee, IL. I couldn’t wait to embark. Suitcase? Sandwich? Purse? Check, check and check! After a few strides with my roller bag, I stopped in my tracks. It was too quiet. Not one person was standing in line. Odd. Maybe they were waiting inside the depot. Maybe the evening train lacked popularity. HARK! I hear a distant whistle;  it’s probably just running late. Except what zoomed by was a freight train rolling south.
It was 5:32 – plenty of time for a 6:00 p.m. departure. Still, the silence was odd. I checked my ticket, which I’d had, for a month.  I ride the train a lot and know the schedule, but- and this is a BIG but -it read, “Departure- 5:30”.  Maybe that was the time to line up, like airport pre-boarding.  I re-read the ticket. Adrenaline coursed through me. It all crystallized in my mind: solitude is great on a beach, but not at a depot. There it was, in all its humbling glory. Departure – 5:30. I’D MISSED IT! Noooooooooo! Yessssssssss! After kicking myself for five seconds, I threw suitcase and purse in the car and fell back on my one and only option: “Okay Big Girl, you’re driving to Chicago!” You can imagine the pure joy as I calculated the mileage and time ahead of me. ETA: 11:30 p.m.

When I hit the interstate, I considered calling Jeff.  Not yet. I’d been a bozo; no reminders needed. Still, he needed to know. Three hours later, I got coffee, gas, bubble gum, and the gumption to call Jeff. For the next 150 miles, he thoughtfully checked in with me, suggesting a stop for the night. His solution for many ills is: “Getcha a good night’s rest and finish the drive in the morning!” He was correct, of course, but I was so focused and fired up with coffee and sugar (Bubble Yum), I wanted to reach my destination and wake up in Gurnee. For a few miles, I turned the radio off and pondered the complete change in plans. Finally, Jeff signed off and went to bed. “Text me when you get there.” Destination Gurnee reached at 11:20p.m.

For a few miles, I turned the radio off to have a quiet driving portion. Several thoughts came to mind: 1. I’m not proud of the fact I missed the train. 2. However, I am proud of my reaction, which I now call the “Five second rule.” Same as for dropped food, but it’s for anger. Five is all you get. Then pick yourself up and move on from it. Whatever IT is. Thanks, Bill Clinton. 3. Everyone should drive solo for six hours sometime: time to think and sing. 4. Always call someone when your plans change. 5. Denial is the devil (Probably just running late. Yeah, right.) 6. Bubble Yum rocks! 7. Always review your ticket BEFORE departure.

It is said that professional speakers, “TEACH WHAT WE NEED” in ourselves. This episode was no exception. Accept what befalls you, admit your faults, adapt and grow. And of course, stop on the way home to purchase a new pair of shoes -or two- because (1) you’re on your own schedule and (2) you can.

And as always, laugh at your own expense, as in the train joke: “When God passed out brains; I thought he said trains, and said, “I’ll take the next one!” Except, there wasn’t one. bw