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Summertime Blues
by John Pederson
Issue 7
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Luck is not something this Yank has had too much of lately. I’ve spent the month since graduation plastering my walls with rejection letters; my girlfriend of four years and I recently split up, and—to top it off—my car was towed last week—to the tune of $100. But I’m not writing to rant about my streak of bad luck.

I’ve realized that bad luck can actually be good for something: stories. Who really wants to hear about someone else’s big break? Remember, miserly loves company, so for this issue I thought I’d pull a recent journal excerpt from a, slightly worse than normal day, in the recent life of Johnny P.

August 8, 2005: Summertime Blues

I spent the weekend in Chicago visiting Abby [my ex-girlfriend]. It was the first time I’ve heard her refer to me as her “ex” boyfriend…I wonder why we fight so much when we’re not even dating…still in love, or realizing the opposite? Got lost on the way out of Chicago and found—what has to be—the street with the highest density of stop lights on this side of the Atlantic.

An hour later I found my way to the Interstate back to Mad-town. No traffic lights on the toll way, but rush hour traffic keeps this at a standstill. To pass the time I decided to call my blog. That’s right, my blog! I’m only slightly embarrassed to admit that I recently entered the blogosphere. It never seemed appealing to me until I discovered that you can actually call your blog and leave a message as an audio file.

While I was driving, I left a few messages for myself until I finally lost interest and became much more focused on the mounting pressure in my bladder. But, as I pulled into the last toll booth en route to Madison, I thought it might be fun to record my interaction with the toll worker. It turned out to be quite a chat.

He told me that he, along with 50 fellow employees, are going to be laid off at the end of the month. As the cars honked and folks hollered behind us, I realized I was capturing a rare interaction: a real conversation and connection at an interstate toll booth. I was so excited by this nerdy catch that I managed to erase the entry instead of posting it.

Infuriated and convinced that it was my duty to share the plight of the Illinois toll works with the world, I decided to ignore my urinary urges and turn around for a second take. This time around was no good, the guy had little patience for a nerd trying to record a conversation with a cell phone.

After a third time through, and $3 later, I finally got a decent take for the thousands of folks who read my blog daily—hey the theme this week is ‘luck’, not ‘honesty’. Suddenly the urge to find a rest room was gone. I kept it in for too long, a very dangerous and unnerving condition to which any long-distance driver can relate.

I didn’t think about it again until I pulled over for gas. As soon as I started pumping, feeling the vile liquid squeeze through the hose, I knew I had better find a restroom and quick. But in my haste to do so I pulled the gas pump out while it was still in full pump. The nozzle flailed in the air like an out of control watering hose, drenching me in gasoline!

I spent the next two hours inhaling the gaseous fumes radiating from my body. I wondered if God was trying to tell me something along the lines of self-immolation, but I decided not to think about it and stop for a cheese burger instead. I’m just lucky I used up my money at the toll and didn’t have enough money for a pack of smokes.

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