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.
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:
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.
AAAAAAARRRRRRRRRRRGGGGGGGGGGHHHHHHHHH! (Foiled again!)
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.
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.
Mary-LUE starts to put together the receipt, car charger and. . . packaging? Where's the packaging?
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.
So fellow travelers, learn from Mary-LUE's story and pay heed to the tell-tale signs that the Conniption Zone is near.
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.