SWMBO's Bad Day

In the summer of 1990 we spent our summer vacation at a lodge in Cashiers, North Carolina. It was a delightful few days and we had some fabulous family times, including a horseback ride in the mountains, some canoeing and sailing, and a couple of rounds on the most beautiful golf course I had ever seen. When we left we decided to make a slight detour through Hayesville to look at the property we had at the time and spent a night at a favorite local lodge in the area. Having seen a billboard somewhere along the way for an outlet mall in Dalton, Georgia, I decided to take the family there, since at least half the members would enjoy such a visit.

We arrived in Dalton in reasonable time, and everyone did their tour and collected their treasures. I even bought a leather fanny pack that proved useful for carrying camera stuff. In any event, we finished our visit, ate lunch and got on I-75 at about 1 P.M. I did some calculations and determined that with some steady driving and good weather we could arrive home at about 1 A.M. I announced that to the family and the news was received with mixed enthusiasm, the kids excited at the prospect of getting home to resume their lives with their friends, and SWMBO expressing reservations about the accuracy of the estimated ETA, my fatigue, the price of gold, and other loosely related factors.

SWMBO had suffered from some vision deficiencies for some time, and a family joke was that she couldn't drive in any combination of dark, rain, or two lane roads (see family story #3). However, since this was our daughter's first year of driving, I wasn't concerned about relief or fatigue, and besides, I'm a night person to begin with. As the day progressed, the weather was nice, the traffic was inconsequential, and we made good time. Our daughter took a turn at the wheel and even made the drive through Louisville during rush hour without incident (it was Saturday, but good practice, nevertheless).

As the hours wore on, the subject of supper arose. Another of the family jokes is that I dislike stopping somewhere to eat. I prefer to pick up fast food and keep on trucking, frequently expressing the sentiment that, “we're burning daylight.” However, SWMBO, still concerned about driving for 12 or 13 hours, insisted that we must stop somewhere. There was considerable discussion, but the consensus seemed to be Pizza Hut. Well, a 75% consensus; SWMBO hates Pizza Hut. So we pulled into Columbus, Indiana, found a Pizza Hut, ate dinner, and got back on the road about 9 P.M.

At this point SWMBO suggested that we get a motel room and spend the night. I responded that I didn't believe in spending money on a motel room when we're only four hours from home. There was a fair amount of give and take over the next half hour, and for my part I failed to gauge the increased irritation and frustration in SWMBO's voice. In fact, the discussion got downright vitriolic. She said she wasn't able to help with the driving because of her poor night vision, that she couldn't help our daughter drive, that she didn't want us to die in a fiery wreck due to my fatigue.

I pointed out that I was fine, that this was comfortably within my driving capacity, that our time and money was better spent getting home than for a brief overnight only four hours from home, and that it was unreasonable for her to decree that I couldn't drive at night because she couldn't see. Still failing to recognize SWMBO's concerns and declining to consider intemediate stops, I reiterated that it only made sense to continue on home as planned. At that point, spent from the debate, she intoned that when we got to Aurora, we, “might as well just drop me off at Mercyville” (the local psychiatric hospital).

Subsequently, she fell asleep for an hour or so, and upon waking was much the better for it. The remaining couple of hours was uneventful, and we arrived about 2 A.M. as calculated (with adjustments for the Pizza Hut stop), had a good night's sleep, and spent the rest of the day unwinding and reflecting on the good time we all had at the resort. All too soon we were back into our daily routines.

To this day, if you ask any family member what the most famous family quote is, they will respond, in unison, “you might as well just drop me off at Mercyville.”

Last updated: 27 January 2009

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