I wake earlier than I want to, and dawdle through showering and morning email checks and getting dressed. I don’t want to go out in the world today, I’m very comfortable curled up in the house with my person, safe from all the things.
But work beckons.
I pause outside the door to browse for mulberries. If I didn’t have to work I could harvest more of them; so many are on the ground now it makes me sad. The tree is heavy with morning dew and red and black berries, and I could spend an hour picking them if there was time.
I pull out into traffic behind a rusty black lifted Dodge Ram 4×4 with a full-size American flag flying from the bed on a six-foot 2×2. A big sticker on the back window says “IT’S TIME TO NUTT UP (sic) OR SHUT UP” and, on closer inspection, half of the tailgate is taken up by an actual poem. I don’t bother to remember the actual words but it’s a middle-schoolish paean about what REAL MEN do and don’t do, and ends with the assertion that REAL MEN punch homosexuals in the face.
And this is why I didn’t want to go out in the world. “Real men,” indeed. I try to see the driver, but he’s directly ahead of me so all I can see in his sideview mirror is a meaty, clean-shaven white face and aviator sunglasses.
Ironically, Pandora chooses this time to play “Hate This” by Grendel.
The ‘phobe turns before we reach the freeway and I try to forget about him. A brace of 2017 Ford Super Duty pickups in testing is a pleasing distraction. So is noticing how green my drive to work is, in spite of being in full suburbs. Michigan is very green, even when it’s not.
There is an unusually large percentage of Lincoln MKZs on the road this morning.
Pandora gives me “Let’s Go Dark” by God Module. The volume is turned up. There’s a beat-up truck hauling a tall seven-axle tanker trailer, and I make a brief circle around it, imagining myself dodging the defending Warboys. I’d need backup.
God Module is followed by “Gunman” by Funker Vogt. The volume goes up to window-shaking levels.
There’s a wrecked C5 Corvette on a flatbed. There are two pretty customized Peterbilts. Traffic is moving well, but then it always does up until about US-12. The sun is shining brightly and the air is pleasantly cool. There’s a Kia Sorento covered in breast cancer awareness stickers with a personalized plate that says “UNBRKN.” There’s a rusty teal extended-cab Chevy S-10 with three guys crammed inside.
Pandora sticks with songs I know really well, and gives me “Phoenix” by Decoded Feedback. Random mix seems to be working within a theme.
There are hate-free Ram pickups, just going to work, and then the freeway packs up around US-12, as it usually does. I’m not in the mood to sit in traffic, so I bail off, looping around the cloverleaf (there is still an unpleasant chuck-chuck-chuck coming from the right rear when I make long sweeping turns) onto US-12.
There’s a black Honda S2000. Don’t see a lot of those. There’s a biker on a fancy Harley wearing Detroit Highwaymen leathers. There’s the apartment complex I used to know people who lived in, and where I also delivered pizzas to. I think that’s where the fattest bulldog I ever saw lived. It looked like a coffee table.
US-12 will pack up too, but I never take it that far; I dive down the slight right onto Morgan Road without touching the brakes, bouncing across washboard gravel. Morgan is a green tunnel of over-arching trees before it opens up into light industrial, then meets up with Carpenter. It’s a not-so-secret shortcut, avoiding an intersection that backs up due to its proximity to the freeway. It also makes me wish I had more dirt roads to drive on.
There’s a rusty metallic blue fifth-generation Honda Accord that reminds me of the car my ex-wife’s parents gave to her. This one could actually be the Orbiter, but that Accord coughed up its transmission about two years after we got it and is probably no more.
I roll those early-oughts memories around in my head for a while.
Pandora plays “Pride,” by :SiTD:. I drive through an avalanche of mass retail: Meijer, Red Robin, Home Depot, Goodwill, TJ Maxx, McDonald’s, Kroger, O’Reilly’s, CVS, Speedway.
Rumination is broken by a Chevy Cruze that makes a left turn from the right lane on Carpenter. I notice that the optional wheels on the new Ford Escape look really good. There’s a school bus, but it’s an IC. I didn’t like them back when they were AmTran either; I prefer Thomas Builts. There’s an orange Element, going the other way.
Pandora plays “Shelter” by Icon of Coil, which seems to close the loop and I’m almost to work. I’m stuck on Packard, but that’s normal. There’s one of those dogs that’s mottled gray like they didn’t finish painting it, and it’s frisky, bouncing on its leash.
The New Grace Apostolic Church is having a murder mystery dinner soon. The pavement goes to shit down by Stone School Road for some reason, it’s cragged and bouncy in both lanes. There’s a clean garbage truck followed by a city bus. There’s an Ice Blue MINI Cooper Clubman with black trim that I’ve seen before.
Commute ends quietly.
Work day officially begins.