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ARE YOU THERE GOD? IT’S ME, GOOGLE MAPS.

So I’m not a big believer in fate and I definitely don’t buy the whole everything-happens-for-a-reason thing. But, a recent experience has me wondering. Let me share it with you. My BFF, Sasha, needed a ride somewhere. (Wait a minute—wasn’t she the inspiration for my last blog too?) Knowing I would be waiting for her while she was busy, I put my computer and Chapstick (two things I never leave home without) in my backpack and headed to the garage. Passing the pantry, I spied a Diet Polar soda (I know, I know) and grabbed one. I gently added that to my bag and off I went.

Like everyone else in the world, I have Google Maps. I often use the app even when I know where I’m going because I like to play a little game with myself. I look at the ETA and then see how far off my actual time is. (Google Maps is a smart lady- she always gets it right). So I plugged in our destination, picked up Sasha and off we went.

When we got to the center of Chester, I continued to follow directions (something I bet my mom wishes I would have done when I was little) instead of going the way we normally would. Google Maps has never failed me before or taken me on a longer route, but this time it did. Like way out of the way. I would have turned around, but I saw that even with the strange detour we were still going to be one minute early. And any time I get to chill with Sash is a good time. So we meandered along.

I know what you’re thinking. Get to the point. Okay, I will. So instead of coming through Deep River and picking up 153 in Centerbrook, the map app took us all the way to Route 9 and spit us out on exit 3 near the Sunoco Station. (Apparently I’m not getting to the point.) We got to the end of the exit ramp and we were again wondering why the silly map took us miles out of the way. But as we were at the stop sign waiting to cross Main Street, a car was coming from our left with his right blinker on. He got to where we were and was waving us to go. I didn’t because I was so confused. He waved. I stared. He waved some more. I stared some more. His expression went from pleasant to aggravated to surprised. And that’s when he turned off his blinker, waved like mad (smiling again) and continued on straight.

Have you figured it out yet? He was trying to turn right onto the exit ramp. Let me repeat. THE EXIT RAMP. If we hadn’t been there at that exact moment, he would have gone up the exit ramp and gotten on Route 9 south GOING THE WRONG WAY. It took me a few minutes to process what had happened. As Owen Meany would say, it gave me the shivers.

But wait—there’s more. This second part is far less dramatic and not life-changing at all. But it was another weird oddity. After we got to our destination (still with a  minute to spare), I dropped Sash off and went to park. I reached in the backseat, grabbed my backpack and put it on my lap. Immediately I was soaking wet. This bummed me out for several reasons. My computer was in there and I had a mini freak out that whatever had spilled killed it. It didn’t, thank goodness. But, I was wet and when I moved my bag, I noticed whatever had spilled was the color of rust. Which brings me to my next point. I work from home. It’s Covid. I don’t go anywhere. I’m missing the gene that makes me care what other people think. I live my life in yoga pants and fuzzies. Brushing my hair is optional. Makeup is unheard of. But, since I was leaving the house, I took a shower, dried (and yes brushed) my hair, put on jeans (one step up from yoga pants) and a favorite, but seldom worn sweater. I looked pretty cute. And then I had icky rust juice liquid mystery slop all over my pants and sweater.

After making sure my computer was still alive, I reached in my bag to figure out had what spilled. It was the soda. But the weird thing was the way that the can split. It looked like someone had taken a knife to it. There’s nothing sharp in my bag. The soda was not frozen. It was a conundrum. I dried myself off with a towel (there are advantages to have teenagers who never, ever take anything out of the car that they put in it), didn’t think anything of it and went about my merry way writing book five.

Fast forward to tonight when I told Kurtie the story complete with the detail about the rust slop and showed him the can. He’s the smartest person I know and explained what had happened. The soda had gone bad. There must have been bacteria in the can and when I tossed my backpack in the back seat, it landed just right and the can exploded. Kind of like when you see old meat at the grocery store (or in my case in the back of the fridge) and the plastic wrap gets super big and puffy. Same theory. The stranger part is that I bought the soda in the last month and it was the last of twelve cans. All the others were fine. Kurtie said that one can must have just been bad.

Being saved from drinking ick soda has nothing on preventing a wrong-way driver, but it was odd that those two events happened within minutes of each other.

Now to get to my real point. We’re all in a hurry. We all like the things that we like. Normally I would have been annoyed that my flipping GPS took me miles out of the way. And those sodas are my guilty pleasure. The silver lining of both those things happening was immediate and very apparent. But maybe there are all kinds of unseen and unknown things that we are saved from or we save others from when silly annoyances like the two I just wrote about happen. We just never know about them because their consequences aren’t as obvious.

Am I looking on the bright side or is there a greater force out there?

{ 4 comments… add one }
  • Pat February 11, 2021, 10:05 pm

    I loved this. Thank you. I’ve missed your voice!

  • Barbara Wilcox February 15, 2021, 10:48 am

    Oh Susan Strecker how I have missed you! No one can say it like you.

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