Apparently, a great deal is revealed about a person by the way he or she handles the upset of losing luggage at the airport. Luckily, I have not experienced that particular misfortune and therefore have, in that setting, kept my true self under wraps.
There is, however, a situation that I feel has far more potential to expose the irritable ogre within: packing the car and getting out of the driveway for a family trip.
Although all members of our family share a common goal, each has his or her own ineffective way of achieving it, with none resulting in a smooth and timely departure.
The process begins like everything else begins, progresses and ends; with our 12 and nine-year-old kids arguing. The first disagreement (of the trip, not the day) is about the seat each will take in the van. Neither wants the responsibility of providing regular updates about the condition of the dog, who suffers terribly from motion sickness. As the children argue, our beloved puppy, lightly sedated by anti-nausea medication, whines pathetically in her crate, perhaps also recalling the last family excursion during which she was not sedated heavily enough.
I feel the need to re-emphasize that, at this point, the dog is already in her crate, which according to my rigid-for-good-reason plan, should not happen until we are ready to depart.
My tunnel vision narrows as I recognize the need to pick up the pace.
My husband is the only member of our four-person, one-canine family who doesn’t have a problem languishing in the car for unbearably… long…periods…of…time. This, I believe is the reason for his nonchalance when informing me that we needed to make three (yes, three) stops before leaving town.
My eyes bug out as any hope of arriving at our destination in four hours melts away like the snow on our lawn in the intermittent December rain. I can’t change a thing for this trip, but surely any “advice” I offer him will serve us well for next time, so I remind him about the importance of pre-planning, and how the extended drive is sure to affect the kids, the dog…and the ogre within.
He and I pass each other moving the remainder of stuff from the house to the van and he quietly and slowly, for maximum impact, mutters in his best mock-jovial tone, “Ho, Ho, Ho!”
Meanwhile, our son Nick temporarily abandoned arguing with his sister in favour of heckling his dad and I who, in his 12-year-old opinion, were taking far too long packing the car. He sat buckled in and ready to go, and dramatically chortled a sigh of relief as we finally turned out of the driveway and onto the street.
But this family trip began as many do; after mere seconds on the road, the brakes are applied and the van reverses and slowly backs back into the driveway. It seems as if the sound of the engine and the fastening of the last seat belt shifts our memories into high gear. Nick sheepishly informed us that he forgot his coat.
After the false start, we joined what seemed like every other area resident on the road, and agonizingly inched our way to our three pre-destinations. It was uncanny how, at each stop, dad would get out of the car, and the rain would intensify…and the kids would briefly unify in hysterical laughter at his misfortune.
Given this somewhat comical situation, I did what I could to behave appropriately…. Apparently, you can tell a lot about a person by the way she reacts to a loved one’s bad luck.