Monday, April 09, 2007

Because you asked. . .

I've had a couple of requests to share the story of my seven hour trip back home last week. I knew when I said not to ask that someone would. (COUGH! Alpha DogMa, atypical, Meredith) So now, how to relate the tale without a) alienating my husband (It wasn't his fault); and b) putting you all to sleep--this is a long story. To set the mood, watch this clip:

Imagine if you will, a woman. Mary-LUE, your average Everywoman. There is nothing to suggest she is anything other than your ordinary suburban, SAHM, grad school-wannabe. But that's all about to change. Returning from a trip to visit with a friend, she's about to take a wrong turn...

...into the Conniption Zone. (Cue music.)

It's Tuesday afternoon. The sky is clear and blue. Mary-LUE travels down the highway. After receiving a phone call from her husband, she agrees to stop in Bakersfield to pick up guitar parts he is hoping to win within the hour in an Ebay auction. It will only take her an hour or so and it will save a few dollars on shipping costs (plus, he'll get the parts sooner). She runs a few errands while she waits for the auction to close and then settles in at Barnes and Noble to await Guitar Guy.

As she waits, she takes advantage of the wireless connection to get her blog fix. Time passes and although she is within the expected time she knew the errand would run, she begins to realize that this delay will put her into the LA area during the evening rush hour. During a phone call with her husband she mentions this concern. He generously offers to make sure all the arrangements for the evening are handled: babysitter, dinner, etc. He suggests that if the traffic gets bad she can pull over and have a leisurely dinner and wait out traffic.

There is only one problem. She is not a leisurely traveler. Mary-LUE, once on the road, likes to get where she is going with as few stops as possible. Her mood begins to sour. She doesn't see the warning signs that the Conniption Zone is near. Guitar Guy shows up and the Fender guitar neck and body are promptly delivered. Mary-LUE hops into the car and calls her husband to announce she is on her way.


Beep! Beep!

Her cell phone begins to signal that the battery is low. She can't find the phone charger and she still has a two and a half to four hour drive depending on traffic. She relays this information to her husband. He recommends that she save battery power by turning the phone off. She can just turn it on to check messages, but she doesn't like the idea of being on the road for that long without her phone available. Besides, she knows how to conserve a phone battery. She doesn't need him to tell her.

The conniption has begun.

Mary-LUE gets back on the highway, looking in all the same places, over and over again for her phone charger--while barreling down the highway at 70 miles per hour. It's always in the driver side map pocket. Not there. She sweeps under the driver seat, the sides of the arm rest between the front seats. Not there. A driver passing by her on the road might have noticed a woman talking to herself, hitting her palm on the steering wheel looking otherwise agitated on the road. Such a driver would have been wise to steer clear of Mary-LUE. She was definitely driving under the influence of a temper tantrum.

The miles pass and Mary-LUE's bile recedes from her throat. She approaches Magic Mountain. Feeling a need to answer Mother Nature's call, she pulls off the highway and notices a Starbucks AND a Verizon Wireless store. This trip is turning around. . . or so she thinks. At Starbucks, she turns on her phone to check messages. Her husband has texted her:

No see yr plugger here. map pocket by left leg is my only idea.

(Frequent visitors to the Conniption Zone will know that there is very little in the way of useful things that can be said by the spouse of someone trapped in the CZ.) Mary-LUE's thoughts at reading this message runs along the lines of "Does he really think I haven't already looked there 20 times!!!!!"

The very helpful Dude Verizon helps Mary-LUE find the right car charger and she's back on her journey. At least if she was going to be stuck in traffic, she would have phone access the whole way. (Are you as hopeful as she is about this?) Within minutes of being on the road, it becomes clear the car charger is not working. When she can get it to connect at all, it gives her an "Unauthorized" message.


Mary-LUE's head starts to pound. She seriously considers whether or not she might have a stroke from the frustration. She takes deep breaths, trying, mentally, to cut her losses. The thirty dollars she just spent on the car charger is almost as much as the shipping charges would have been on the guitar parts. Those blank-i-ty-blank guitar parts that her blank-i-ty blank, darling husband of 19 years just haaaaaaad to have.

This interior monologue continues until. . . she hits traffic. Granted, it isn't the worst traffic she has ever encountered. It probably doesn't delay her trip by more than 45 minutes. The major delay was already experienced in Bakersfield. But Mary-LUE is deep into the Conniption Zone.


As she approaches her So-So Cal hometown, she decides to stop at the local Verizon Wireless store to return the car charger. She turns on the phone to check for messages:

we b at Kfc 5pm if u can/want

"NO!" Mary-LUE does not "can/want b at Kfc 5pm." (It is already 5:30 p.m.) Mary-LUE is going to return the charger now or it won't get done at all and the thirty dollars will be completely wasted. The only problem is, she bought the charger at a Verizon AUTHORIZED dealer, not a Verizon store. The Verizon store cannot exchange the car charger.

GGGGGGGRRRRRRRRRRRRR!!!!!! (This is the modern day equivalent of shaking your fists at the gods.)

Her head is really hurting now. She wouldn't be surprised if her eyes started twitching or something. She drives the last mile or two home. Number One son is the only one home. He meets her at the door with news of his day. She listens to his story and then heads straight to the phone. She calls the Verizon AUTHORIZED dealer and explains the situation.

"Are you going to be coming back this way anytime soon, ma'am?"

"NO I AM NOT GOING TO BE COMING BACK THAT WAY ANYTIME SOON. May I please speak with the manager."

Sadly, the manager is unable to suggest anything useful.

"If I mail a copy of the receipt, along with the car charger, would you credit my account?"

Yes, he assures here that won't be a problem, just make sure you include the original packing. That won't be a problem. Mary-LUE has the packaging. Or at least she thinks she does.

(In the meantime, her husband and daughter return home. Her husband, unaware of his wife's presence in the Conniption Zone asks her how she is doing. A flurry of words are spoken, some of which include Not, Good, Two, Hours, Wasted, Thirty, Dollars, Shipping, Costs, Time, Back, Not, Worth, It.)

Mary-LUE starts to put together the receipt, car charger and. . . packaging? Where's the packaging?

She looks high.
She looks low.
She looks in the car.
She looks under the car.
She looks in the trash.
She dumps out her purse.

Her husband, in his most conciliatory manner, has been helping her. He has to stop, though, in the search for The Plastic Clamshell Car Charger Holder because he has to leave for worship rehearsal. He starts to ask if she wants him to pick up a mocha for her on the way home. She interrupts him, through gritted teeth and tears, to make it clear that in her state there














It is better just to leave--so he does.

Mary-LUE rounds out the evening by calling the second Verizon store to see if the packaging was left there. The call does not bear fruit and there is no more to be done. Her spouse comes home and she is civil but distant. If she talks to him, she'll want to rant and rave at him. She knows there is no point in ranting and raving. He didn't really do anything that came close to meriting the strength of her response. But she was in the Conniption Zone, the place where no prisoners are taken and a sideways glance is cause for war. So, Mary-LUE did the only thing she could. She stopped resisting the CZ. She went to bed and slept, knowing that the CZ rarely maintains its hold on you through the night.

So fellow travelers, learn from Mary-LUE's story and pay heed to the tell-tale signs that the Conniption Zone is near.

Roll Credits

Afterword: I'm not sure why I was so susceptible to my fit of temper. Lack of quality CPAP time (my sleep apnea treatment), not being a great traveler, having to drive so long by myself, being a big baby. Maybe it was all of the above. All I know is it weren't purty. Sleeping with Bread will be baked fresh tomorrow.


atypical said...

Ummm, yeah, I was sort of...ah...well....overtaken! hijacked! abducted! by the good ole CZ just recently (on Easter morning nonetheless).

Well, at least it makes for good story telling.


P.S. You mean you didn't find the original charger while looking for the packaging? That SO would have happened to me.

Mary-LUE said...

Oh yeah. I forgot about that. I did find the original charger. It was way, way, way down on the floor between the armrest and the passenger side of the car. What was it doing there?

Mel said...

I'm not laughing.
I'm not.

NOT laughing.

*covering mouth*

Hubby is a very smart man. LOL

Shoot. I laughed......

Aliki2006 said...

Oh, I have logged frequent traveller miles going to and from the CZ...

Not to worry...and you know, it's funny how trips to the CZ are so often sparked off by simple things.

meredith said...

I am LAUGHING, but with you as a fellow frequent conniption zone flyer!!!

daisies said...

oh hon, i feel your pain ~ i too have been in the conniption zone on more than one occasion


i giggled and laughed through this amazing piece of writing ... i'm sorry, does that make me a bad person?


Mary-LUE said...

Daisies, Laughing does NOT make you a bad person. I had to try to make it funny because otherwise it would truly have been too horrifying a story to tell about myself!

We headed up to Vegas today and I managed the trip without revisiting the Conniption Zone. Of course, there was one incident of Justifiable Irritation, but I'll give him a suspended sentence. ;)

Anonymous said...

I fully expected Rod Serling to be a Verizon employee.

Alpha DogMa said...

The Omega Man still speaks of the time he sent me to the MOTHER OF ALL Conniption Zones, after this exchange:

Me: Have you seen {{some random but really important camping equipment}}?
OM: No.
Me: Oh.
OM: Have you tried looking for it?
Me: {{unable to speak as my anger has liquified my brain and it is presently oozing out my ears}}

EnnuiHerself said...

I laughed so hard at this post!!

Too much travel can send me into a royal temper tantrum/CZ. There's nothing that can be done and it's best if bystanders just look out.

In my experience, a journey to CZ can only be short circuited by a nap or comfort food.