The Road Not Taken

Posted on November 22, 2014 under Storytelling with no comments yet


“Every day is a winding road” ( Cheryl Crow )



Will ye no’ come back again? 

Bonnie Charlie, traditional Scottish song by Carolina Oliphant (Lady Nairne)


It has happened to all of us.  We’re travelling in unfamiliar territory on a trip when we take a wrong turn and become hopelessly lost.  There was a time not that long ago that getting oneself out of a jam required a good nose for direction and an old fashioned map.  And even though most of us have technology in the palm of our hands, or own a car that has a built in GPS, there are still occasions when we take the road “less traveled” by mistake.  It can be frustrating and amusing, all at the same time.

Earlier this year, I flew to Florida with my son to watch a golf tournament in Orlando.  One of the rounds was cut short by severe weather in the area.  We went back to our hotel.  We had a rental car with no GPS.  I needed something at a store and, since I was the only one insured to drive, I struck out to find this business.  I had done a quick “MapQuest” check and discovered that my destination was a mere 8 minutes away, requiring only one exit to navigate.  Sounded pretty simple to me.

As I pulled out of the hotel parking lot, I was greeted by thunder, lightning and some of the hardest rain that I have seen in a long time.  My eyesight isn’t what it used to be and, without a co-pilot, I missed the one crucial turn and found myself out on the Interstate.  I won’t bore you with the details, including short-changing an unmanned toll station.  I even made it to the front gates of Disney.  Good thing Mickey wasn’t running the ticket booth or he might have gotten strangled.  Two hours later, empty handed and enormously frustrated, I returned to the hotel.

Neil, a friend of mine from Scotland, and two of his buddies (also Scots,) had decided to take a little road trip while in Kissimmee, just outside of Orlando.  Their spouses were off on a shopping trip and they thought that tracking down a “pint” would be more sporting than finding a 50% off sale.  Neil had rented a Lincoln Town Car several days earlier.  Off they went to the quaint town of Celebration, where they settled in to quaff some ale while watching a game of football from Scotland.  Doesn’t get much better than this.

They all agreed that one more bar stop was in order so they headed off to International Drive, a well-known street that they had frequently travelled together.  They took the wrong exit and after a half an hour, Billy declared that they were lost.  Another series of turns took them by a fire hall. “We passed that stationhouse 20 minutes ago”, chimed in Johnny.  “No, Johnny.  They all look the same around here”, was Neil’s retort.

Another half hour passed and they drove by a fire station again.  They were by this time in total agreement that this was the same building that they had seen twice before.

And before you knew it, they were approaching the ticket gate to Disney’s Epcot Centre.  They looked for a place to make a U-turn but there was nothing in sight.  Neil got out of the car to explain their predicament to the gate attendant.  He was stopped short when he heard the words, “Get back in that car.”  A few tense moments ensued, but finally they were allowed to pass through the main gates to find the exit out of Disney.

And then the fuel gauge light came on.

The trio pulled into the nearest gas station.  Billy went inside to prepay for the fuel.  Neil fiddled around and couldn’t locate the mechanism that opens the portal to the gas cap.  After looking in all the usual places and running out of patience, he turned the task over to Johnny, with similar results.  They exited the car to examine the hatch to the gas cap.  “We need a screwdriver” announced Johnny.   Neil recoiled in horror at the thought of going at a brand new Lincoln with a blunt instrument.  Billy returned from paying for the gas and the three brave lads attempted to release the gas cap using the car keys.

Just then, another vehicle pulled up.  The frustrated Scottish contingent pleaded for assistance or divine intervention.  They admitted their collective stupidity to the new arrival who, in one quick motion, opened the car door, hit a button which  was totally camouflaged and ”presto”, the mechanism opened up, exposing the gas cap.

Neil grabbed the nozzle from the pump and inserted it in the hole.  Nothing.  Zilch.  Nada.

“Feigh!” crossed all of their lips.  Neil stormed into the station to have a few words with the attendant. “We gave you $40. And there’s no petrol.”  “That was a quarter hour ago,” was the tart reply from the worker on duty.  “You only have a few minutes to start pumping, from the time you pay.”  Fearing the emergence of bagpipes from the trunk, the attendant quickly did a reset and finally the fuel tank was full.

Before leaving, Billy went back into the station, somewhat sheepishly.  “Can ye point me in the direction of Kissimmee?”

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