stopped in the road

Traffic crawled down the icy side street. It was a narrow curvy road. Houses marched down one side and business down the other. All Jane could see in either direction was a sold line of cars.

Jane wasn't in the flow of traffic though. Her bald tires and old car had betrayed her so Jane found herself utterly stuck in a car that was no longer drive-able. If she was a betting woman, Jane would have bet her life savings that something was wrong with the suspension. She'd maneuvered the old clunker into a business driveway the best she could but the car still stuck into the road.

Since she no longer had to worry about running out of gas, Jane turned the radio back on. So far the station had yet to repeat a song more than once or twice, which was impressive given that she'd been listening for close to four hours.

A car full of men crept up next to her. When traffic inevitably stopped, their car was even with hers. Jane ignored them, as she'd ignored the countless cars that had stopped where their car was stopped. She hadn't ignored the cop that had sat there but he'd resolutely ignored her, intently staring at his cell phone while she waved and shouted out her window at him. No matter; she had a ride coming and the radio had said the cops weren't helping unless someone was injured.  So Jane sang along with the new Cage the Elephant song and waited for her ride.

Out of the corner of her eye, Jane saw movement. When she turned to look she saw that the men in the car were trying to get her attention. She rolled down her window.

"Hey, what's wrong?" The man on the passenger side of the car furrowed his brow as he inspected the car and Jane.

"Oh I'm pretty sure it's the suspension. The car isn't driveable so I'm kind of stuck." Jane shrugged.

"That sucks."

And with that, the car full of men drove away. Jane shook her head. She was past being upset about this sort of thing. Instead, she found their response, and lack of concern, amusing.

Time crept onward, as did the line of cars. Both moved exceptionally slowly. Eventually a half hour passed without a sign of her ride. Jane grew hungry so she rummaged around the lunchbox from work, hoping for something to eat. The trend of the evening continued: the lunchbox was empty, save a spoon, an apple slicer, and an ice pack. Jane had eaten her apple earlier in the drive. The core was still in her trash and for a minute Jane was tempted to pull it out and see if there was anything edible left on it. Thankfully the moment passed quickly and the apple remained firmly inside the trash bag.

Jane sighed and took a mental inventory of the contents of the car. She was beginning to wonder if her ride would ever arrive. Jane was a planner by nature so she began to work out a contingency plan. If she had to, she could sleep in the car. There was a beach blanket in the trunk that she could wrap herself in. If that didn't work, there was a Mormon church a mile down the road. Hopefully someone would be there. If there was someone there, Jane was confident they would let her sleep in the church somewhere even though she wasn't a member of the Mormon church. On a night like tonight, Jane couldn't imagine any church turning away stranded travelers.

With a contingency plan in place, Jane began to relax a little bit. She laughed at herself. How had she gotten stuck in this situation? Jane always had a contingency plan. She located both of the nearest exits on an airplane before they pushed back from the gate every single time she flew. When she'd applied to veterinary school, she'd also applied to the Peace Corps, just in case she didn't get in to vet school. She always had a plan.

But for whatever reason, on today of all days, Jane didn't have a contingency plan. Yes there had been reports of snow. Yes the weathermen said it would be a lot snow.

Yet Jane had gotten up, gotten dressed, and taken the same lunch to work she always did. She hadn't brought extra food or even a change of clothes. No contact solution, no medicine. Nothing. She hadn't even brought her gym bag or a pair of gloves. To make matters worse, she'd left her scarf at work earlier in the day and had only worn a lighter jacket. Jane hadn't made a plan and now she was stuck on the side of a dark icy road with nothing to eat, clothes that weren't warm enough for any serious walking, and a very full bladder. No, this was not one of Jane's finer moments.

But despite her lack of a contingency plan, Jane thought that somehow she might just be able to get through this. She had a plan in place now. Actually, she had three of them: her ride could reach her, she could sleep in the car, or she could walk to the church. Jane snuggled down into her jacket, content.

Ten minutes later, headlights appeared behind her. These headlights weren't in the stream of traffic though. They had pulled over too.

Jane grinned from ear to ear.

Her ride was here.

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