Friday, Apr. 16, 2004 | 8:55 p.m.



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Still More Coolness

No Good Deed Goes Unpunished

Today we went to Chicago to drop off some goods to someone who lost everything in an apartment fire. The trip was nightmarish.

We got out of here late -- our fault. We thought we were done enough last night with our gathering and that we could get out of here by nine-ish. We weren't counting on Nina to keep us up all night, sleeping only in forty minute stretches that were puncuated with periods of annoyingly cheerful wakefulness. By this morning, all three of us were exhausted and cranky. Nina's sleep duration followed the same pattern all day, which just added to the general joy of our experience.

We knew we were in trouble when we were still a good thirty miles out from Chicago and traffic was thick. I could see it was congested on the other side too, but hoped it would be better by the time we returned.

We had made plans to meet with a friend of mine up there for lunch after we dropped off our donation. By the time we got through traffic to the apartment, it was totally out of the question. We would already be late getting home to Gab and all we could hope to do was lessen the time she would have to spend alone. So I called my friend and cancelled and we headed back home.

I used to think the worst drivers in the world resided in St. Louis. I stand corrected. They live in Chicago. Rude, dangerous and just plain stupid. Sorry, any Chicagolanders reading this... if today was an indicator of area drivers, you get the prize for the worst I've experienced in the US.

If we weren't being cut-off, we were being tailgated. If we weren't being tail-gated, we were trying, unsuccessfully, to maintain a safe distance between our truck and the vehicle in front of us. Apparently in Chicago, that is an open invitation to fit as many cars in that "safe" distance as is physically possible, and at the highest rate of speed. As Jeff is fond of saying... "You shouldn't have body roll when you change lanes."

Oh, it was awful and it literally took us two hours to get forty miles out of Chicago. Poor Gab -- she held up well and we chatted on the cell phone a lot. Then Nina -- because she hadn't endeared herself enough to us by depriving us of sleep -- decided to try out for the local tornado siren most of the way home. No amount of silliness, soothing or pleading helped. She just wanted to scream.

Yes, Jeff and I spent a good six hours in hell today.

The only redeeming part of the whole experience was the gratitude of the people who were kind enough to take our stuff. Really, they were doing us a favor by giving us a place to park it. Jeff and I both told them that we have been very fortunate in experiencing the kindness of community and that we were glad to be able to dole it out instead of receiving.

But that trip to do the deed... ugh!!

No good deed goes unpunished. I used to hate that saying. Now I understand. Really.

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