This is not a suggestion. It is bordering on a direct order.
I’ve always known this, actually, but yesterday, as I drove back from New Hampshire, I did not take my own advice. As I trundled along I90 towards the border, I played that little game with myself: should I hit that last rest stop? Nah. I’ll be fine. I knew it was about half an hour to the border. If I could find it, that is. I had no GPS, no map, and I’d accidentally wrapped my apple core in the page from my directions that I needed.
I print out Google maps to where I need to go, then I just do it all backwards to get home. I replace Ns with Ss and Ws with Es and the other way around. It usually works. But I got thrown off yesterday because there was a flashing sign that said this:
Wait times at border crossings: Peace Bridge 60 minutes
Rainbow Bridge 0-30 minutes
Queenston-Lewiston Bridge 60-90 minutes
I’d come across at Queenston-Lewiston, and that was the way I’d aimed to go back. But I’d just gone past the last gas/pee place, and all I could picture was 60-90 minutes. I decided the Rainbow Bridge was the better bet, even though I had no idea where it was. I decided I’d just nudge against the border until some spot on it opened up. Do you know how many bridges there are? There are lots. So I got lost. It was about 5:30 on a Sunday, so traffic was heavy. I was driving that yellow Mustang which I looooooooove, but I didn’t have my bluetooth hooked up because the engine is so lovely and loud, and I was shifting gears every ten seconds, and at the same time rummaging around in the little brown bag that held the most excellent Gala apples that I’d bought at a farmer’s market in New Hampshire, and cursing myself for crumpling up the core in the page I needed. I usually toss apple cores out the window, but I worried that the U.S. might see that as littering, and I didn’t feel like getting pulled over in a press car.
Then I contemplated pulling over just this side of the border to pee, but I worried that maybe they had police that looked for people who did that and burst into the little cubicles to see what they were hiding to smuggle over the border. I was taking my apples over in a bag, not any place else, but I didn’t want to risk it. Sometimes I worry too much.
Anyway, at a toll booth (one of about a bazillion toll booths I went through) I asked the guy if the Rainbow Bridge was up there. He couldn’t hear me over the Mustang, I could tell, but he nodded yes. I think they probably do this for sport. I decided I would just carry on north, and eventually figure it out. I munched on another apple and tried not to think about peeing.
After a few minutes, I got nervous that I’d missed something. Then I noticed the car ahead of me, a black Elantra. It had Ontario plates and a little kid in the backseat. I just started following them, reasoning they were going home, and the kid probably had to pee. This turned out to be a good bet and I only got nervous again when the highway started winding its way through a residential area. I hate this about Buffalo: you are merrily highwaying away, and all of a sudden you’re on people’s front steps. Their zoning laws are nuts, something I learned as a kid when Roz and I would go down there and find fancy restaurants next to factories, and something for sale call beef on wek. I do not know what that is, nor do I want to.
At the border, everything ground to a halt. I nervously wondered why I was being denied my 0-30 minutes as cops flew by me. Some fender bender. Now I really couldn’t get out of line to pee, because I reasoned nobody would let me back in. As I sat there, I watched all kinds of cars wheel around and leave, and I knew in my heart every one of them had to pee.
I finally got to the border guy, and was momentarily surprised by a young man who looked like a J Crew model. I looked like someone who had driven for 8 hours eating apples and needing to pee. As I sat there wondering if I knew any girls in their 20s who would like to meet a nice looking boy who had a job as a border guard, he asked me where I’d been and I told him a pumpkin festival in New Hampshire. My guess is you can’t make that up. He asked if I had anything to declare. I said one ugly leather jacket (bought on a dare, cheap) and a bottle of gin and (I looked in the bag) 4 apples.
I made it home.