Wednesday, October 05, 2005

O Brother, Where Art I?

As I went down in the river to pray
Studying about that good old way
And who shall wear the robe and crown
Good Lord, show me the way ...
(Alison Kraus)

God, I hate field work!

Today found your intrepid social worker unfettered from his desk and set free to spread good tidings and serve legal papers to a mildly developmental disabled women this morning. Yes, it’s true, sometimes we have to pretend we are paralegals and explain to people (who usually don’t comprehend what we are saying) that a family member wants to become their legal guardian (“you don’t have any problem with that, do you sugar? Of course not”).

No matter what I thought of this whole procedure, I was destined to perform and I did as I was told and everything went just fine…

…until I got lost on the way back to the office.

You see, the place I had to go to this morning is Way Over There, really far from where my office is situated in Office-Land so I drove there from home. Now, I have taken this trip before, and pretty much thought I knew my way back from Way Over There to Office Land.

Boy was I wrong.

Back in the car, the soundtrack to the film “
Oh Brother Where Art Thou” blasting from the in-dash system, I put the pedal to the metal and went into mental cruise control; singing along and taking in the scenery and sipping on a Starbucks iced coffee and … oh dear, it seems that I was on the wrong road.

Let me explain:

In South Jersey there are these two roads. One is called Red Horse Road and the other is called Blue Horse Road. To get back to Office Land, I needed to be on Blue Horse Road … well, it turned out that I was riding a horse of the wrong color. But it was cool, I figured, all roads lead to Rome…sort of.

About a half an hour later, I realized that I was traveling in the wrong direction and going opposite of Office Land! Frustrated, I counted on my trusty sense of direction and slipped down Less Traveled Road which ultimately led to the Boulevard of Broken Dreams just on the outskirts of Don’t Be Caught There After Dark Town.

Understanding that I had now traveled some fifteen miles in the wrong direction I do what I normally do when I am frustrated, I started cursing up a blue streak.

That did not help at all.

Finally, I did something that every red blooded American man hates to do. I stopped at a gas station and asked for directions.

Excuse me”, I asked of the man in the turban at the pumps, “Which way to Blue Horse Road?”

Straight down here and make the first right”, he said pointing to the street.

I jumped back into my car as The Soggy Bottom Boys sang, Man of Constant Sorrow and headed out, down the street to the first right, made the right, and found myself back on Red Horse Road.

Fuck”, I exclaimed loud enough for anyone within ten feet of my car to hear. I continued down the wrong road, but this time, in the right direction, driving through all the little decaying townships along the way; actually it was kind of depressing. Most of these town’s heydays have long since passed, and the main streets are now filled with empty store fronts or tattoo parlors, dollar stores and adult book shops.

Eventually, I stopped again, sucked it up and asked for directions to Blue Horse Road. This time, a kindly old guy pointed at a side street and said, “About a half mile that-a-way and you’ll hit it.”

Finally, I caught a break, an hour and half after leaving my appointment in Way Over There, I was on the right road.

Feeling better, but still aggravated, I once again noted all of the suburban decay around me. As I drove passed ugly apartment buildings and abandoned strip malls, my soundtrack became You are my Sunshine by Norman Blake. What could I do but grin at the ludicrous nature of it all (by this time, the disc was on it’s second go around, I’d been traveling that long).

Before too long, the lay of the land became more familiar and finally, a little over two hours after I’d left my appointment I saw a road sign that said, Welcome To Office Land!

When I got into the parking lot, I leapt from car, fell to my knees and kissed the asphalt. After I spit out the broken glass and nails, I took a deep breath and smiled, happy to be back where I belong.

God, I hate field work!

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