Not the Love Bus

It has been a long time since I graced these virtual pages with an eloquent tale of romance and victory. You will continue to wait. This is a story I though I had already told. It is a story that has left an indelible mark upon Mike, and now so it shall mark you.

Let’s hasten back to our freshman year at UB. I had completed my first semester, and has spent my break back in New Mexico with my family. Boy, what a mistake. Spending four weeks with them conquered me of ever needing to spend more than a few consecutive days with them. My month-long semester break was over. I had used the time to reflect. I had discovered I had some annoying behaviors that I decided to stop, and I had decided I wanted to move out of mechanical engineering and into computer science. Unfortunately I was too scared to switch majors after only one semester so I stuck with engineering for the rest of the year, and it became crystal clear I was correct as I spent less and less time on my engineering studies. Be I am jumping ahead. The long and short of it was it was time to head back to Buffalo, and I was going to travel by bus.

Why on earth volunteer to take the bus across the country? Well, it was not exactly voluntary. My parents were still my primary source of income, and my father felt that taking the bus was a good experience. Just like how on family vacations he felt it was best to start the day by 7AM and was angry I was wasting the opportunity by sleeping in the car instead of staring out the window as we rolled back endless amber waves of grain and cows across the mid-lands.

Knowing this would suck going into it, but ecstatic to get away form my family again, I was willing to take the blow and hightail it out of Dodge, Dodge actually being almost eight hours further east than Albuquerque would have been a blessing. So I purchased my bus ticket, and two days later my father dropped me off at the Albuquerque bus station and I sprinted inside to board my Greyhound. I was to be a 38 hour trip, with 2 stops to transfer buses. Not so bad since they drive through the night, and I figured I could sleep away much of that time. By the end it took 50+ hours. Keep in mind this was the pre-iPod days.

The first leg was the longest. It was a 12 hour drive to a bus transfer. It was early evening when I left Albuquerque, incidentally we took a left turn out of town. I boarded what was the most jam-packed vehicle of any kind I have ever seen before or since. Even though I always board vehicles early so I have a solid choice of seats, I got one of the last few seats. There were several old people and families with many small children who also boarded early. Luckily the last seat was with the only other lone traveler, a 20-something black man who clearly did not subscribe to single-serving friends (a la Fight Club) as I did not. We sat next to each other for 12+ hours in silence. Each of us listening to our walkman and sleeping. Our only communication was the occasional nod or eye roll at the family who took the several rows behind us. This family consisted of a dad who did nothing, a frantic mom, and 3-6 screaming children. I saw 3-6 because they moved in a chaotic cloud of constant motion that made it nye impossible to count them. Kicking seats, running up and down the isle, screaming, poking, etc. My seat-mate and I kept them at bay with an aura of hatred with apathy and disgust. Honestly I did 90% of the work here, providing him a shield, as I had the isle seat. Maybe this is where my desire to procreate dissolved.

When we finally arrived, they took out a giant Spam key and unfurled us like oily sardines, and after that trip we were all oily. Not having a window seat, and avoiding all eye contact I had not surveyed the landscape until I was peeled out the bus. As I made a slow 360 to force blood to once again pump through my extremities, I saw we were literally nowhere. In every direction I was nothing but sand. There was only the bus station. A lone sign of civilization. I wondered if I had slept through the Apocalypse.

The station was one giant room, with a counter, and a lot of seats. They did have the seat TVs, but I had spent my change on the vending machines, and the mutt behind the counter had never heard of quarters.

To enhance our experience they gave us two choices. The transfer bus was overbooked, picking up several lost souls at this station – and I think they were literal wraiths, so we could cram onto the bus that was leaving in 10 minutes, or wait FOUR FUCKING HOURS for another bus. Myself, and two others, including my former seat-mate elected to wait four hours once we learned the later bus would be virtually empty. I had suffered through 12+ hours of excruciating hell already, what was a few more? At least it would be quiet without those damn kids.

I can’t recall how I spent those four hours. Due to the boredom and heat I entered a zombie-like state, and not the fast-moving zombies that are popular today. I was ecstatic, sweaty and exhausted when the bus finally arrived. The wait was well worth it. My row-mate and I joined only three others on the newer bus that had cushy seats and working AC. Did I forget to mention this first bus had half-ass AC and seats one level above the shit bench seats you get on a yellow school bus. I boarded and we sped off above a relative heaven of transportation. A business-class womb with wheels.

I was so enthralled by the new bus that I have no idea what happened until I pulled into the next bus station for my final transfer. According to my original itinerary I should have been setting foot in Buffalo, but due to my self-induced delay I had to wait several hours for another bus. This bus at least knew what the concept of change was, and had some surrounding structures and populace.

I wasted most of the time here studying the Amish family who was also waiting. I was fascinated that the Amish were taking a bus. I was also certain an explosion of famed Amish anger would take place at any moment. The family consisted of a father, mother, and two boys (about 10 and 12); all very Amish looking. What keyed me into the potential entertainment, was not just their handling of their misplacement in modern society (albeit this cruddy bus station was hardly the height of modern society), but that both boys had two black eyes. Was this the result of an improper churning of butter, or a disastrous raising of a barn? I have no experience with the Amish, other than buying a delicious pie on the side of the road once, so I make no commentary on them as a whole. No smiting of furious anger took place. They boarded their bus without incident, but the purpose was served; I had passed the time.

My final bus ride proceeded without incident. I arrived at the downtown Buffalo bus station. Finally, home again! Damn. My trip was not yet over. I had to get my ass back to the Amherst Campus. I struggled my bulky luggage the several blocks from the bus station to the train and managed to board. I spent an uncomfortable ride back to Main Street Campus. All the while I was made more uncomfortable because I had not purchased a ticket, relying on my pitiful looking state as payment enough for any ushers.

I was able to get a ride from Louis back to the Ellicott Complex. That was no joy.

I finally made it home. I derided the bus as the worst form of transportation ever. I vowed to never ride a bus again when traveling greater distances than across the city. I have made many vows in my life, but none was more serious. This is also the only one I have ever kept. The bus sucks.


Tops Never Stops

Before we discovered the gloriousness that is Wegmans we frequented Tops. It has been well noted already that during the Princeton Era Mike and I made at least a daily trek to Tops since it was so close. Another beacon to the hospital white walls of Tops was Matt’s long-time employ at Tops on Delaware.

Matt was one of the first employees to this branch of the Tops franchise. He had an interview in the trailer on the lot while the building was still being constructed. Some relative of Matt was involved so it was an easy position to acquire, not that cart-boy is an excessively hard job to get. Matt started work in Spring. His plan was to work until the first day of snow, and then quit. “Matt doesn’t work in the snow” was his mantra.

Months later the Matt was pushing carts when he was called into the office. The Tops lords had vision enough to see that Matt was more than a cart-boy. He was immediately reassigned to an inside position in the Butcher’s Block. At the close of his shift that day Matt stepped outside and gazed up into the sky. The first snowflakes of the season gently fell upon his brow. The gods had smiled upon our hero. He was not longer a cart boy. But you must pay the gods a price; Matt was still employed at Tops, or in an indirect way Ahol (the parent, and appropriately named, company of Tops).

Speaking of Ahol, the scuttlebutt is that the local mafia allowed Ahol to purchase Tops as long as they maintained control of the Tops Union. This is all hearsay, so if I wake up with the horse head in my dead tomorrow you will know the arm of the Buffalo mafia extends to the West Coast.

On our way to Comstock to waste time, we took great joy in visiting Matt during his work hours. This was particularly true when he was a lowly cart boy. On one of the rare occasions we had Sean with us we made such a trip for supplies. Sean was known for his fearless driving and his habit of stopping at Noco to “fill er up” with whatever change he had in his pocket. I was once a first-hand witness to his purchase of 32 cents worth of fuel. Today that is not enough for them to let you lift the nozzle.

We spoke to Matt on the way into Tops. He had just spent a considerable amount of time in the classic “stack a fuck-load of carts together from all across the parking lot” so he could push them all back at once. His cart-stack lot was near the Tops entrance, and when we returned from purchase of our supplies (Mountain Dew, pretzels, frozen burritos, etc.) we found Matt no where to be found. As we left Sean took the opportunity to drive his car into the cart-stack Matt had painstakingly constructed. He pushed the cart-stack to the far corner of the parking lot. At first he drove at a slow pack, until we saw Matt running at us, at which time Sean sped up. The exceedingly heavy cart-stack was left in the farthest corner. We sped of laughing. At least we gave Matt something to do for the last hour of his shift.

Once inside, Matt quickly rose to the rank of 95% Butcher. What is 95% Butcher? After a year of working primarily in the Butcher’s Block Matt observed that the only difference between an official Butcher and an experienced meat man, like himself, was knowing how to properly cut 5 specific meats. As there 5 meats are expensive, they did not let anyone slice them, nor were they purchased frequently enough for Matt to get enough practice. We all spurred him on to complete his training and have a viable skill. Eventually Matt was able to get in enough practice in two of these elusive meats, so he settled at 97% Butcher. As I conclude this section it strikes me that this post will burn a few of Matt’s bridges.

Matt was a valuable Tops associate for nearly seven years. He quit before hitting the seven year point because that would be when a part-time associate would be granted a 401k. While the rest of us saw this as an obvious fruit to grab, Matt saw this as a sign he had been defeated by the preverbal Man.

Continuing this HR showcase of Tops benefits we come to the period when Tops began selling Tops branded apparel. Tops management required employees to wear this apparel initially, no doubt to spur on the awaiting masses who couldn’t possibly hold back from spending thousands on Tops sweatshirts. The slap in the face was that associates were required to pay for these required textiles. What a joke.

Tops exposed us to several characters, and once again showcased the intelligence of the average person. The most memorable example of this was when Matt related some story of some random activity of our crew. “What does phallic mean?” interjected one of typical Tops zombies. Matt was befuddled that he did not know what phallic was? He now had is shift project. He left the blob with no better knowledge and spent the rest of him shift polling all his co-workers as the meaning of phallic. To his astonishment one one other employee knew the word. During his polling he even received commentary that phallic was not a common word many people would know. Matt left his shift to relate this happenstance to the rest of us. Until this incident we did not know it was possible to NOT know what phallic meant.

Matt mined a number of girlfriends out of seven year stint. I recall one who became a vegetarian because she was fat. Success! She lost weight. Unfortunately she was still not satisfied, so she pushed the envelope even more, and became vegan. This relationship did not last long.

Matt also met the same girl that absconded with Matt and James in the infamous “I’ll never set foot in a gay bar” story that was the first post on this blog.

An experienced Matt sat in the Tops atrium enjoying his mandatory earned break. A frantic woman ran up, “There is a used condom over there!” “Really? Where?” The woman took Matt half-way across the parking lot to what was absolutely confirmed as a under condom, still filled with a “rush of excess fluids.”

Matt concluded his inspection and headed back, but to the dismay of the woman, he did not return with any cleaning equipment. Matt, instead, plopped himself back on the atrium bench. “Aren’t you going to clean that us?” she explained. “Lady, I’m on my break.”

The bulk of Matt’s time at Tops had him stationed in the Butcher’s Block, or as we more affectionately referred to it – the Meat department. Matt divulged two secrets of the Meat department. One; they kept a small Igloo cooler ready to go at someone, ironically usually one of the professional butchers, cut off a finger and was rushed to the hospital, finger piece encased in the Igloo cooler, to have it sewn back on. The success rate was quite high. Two; the Meat department kept an open bowl into which they threw any scraps, be they on the floor or wherever, into this bowl. When the bowl was full, then they ground up the scraps and sold it under the label of “meat”. Funnily enough, years before, during the Goodyear era, I had spied one of these and bought it for the label humor.

Matt enjoyed a time where he was double employed. His second job, the more prestigious one, was the all powerful Mighty Taco on Sheridan and NFB. Mighty Taco gives you a week to study the menu before taking a test. You have to know all menu items, and their component’s with amounts from memory. Matt passed and became a Mighty Taco employee. We gave him a goal of finding out what the beef was, as he felt Mighty Taco was superior to Taco Bell in every aspect, except the beef. Since this was sacrilege we was to solve the mystery now that he had access.

Matt soon grew to dislike the manager. She ruled with an iron fist, holding weekly meetings that Matt was 2 minutes late for once. She fired him for this. Matt suspects that he was really fired because he was telling the other employees how the manager had terrible skills, and was a bitch to boot. He did not notice until too late that she was in the building, and overheard, walking in on his conversation just at the end of Matt’s tirade. He never solved the “Riddle of Beef.”

Like the recent rash of professional athletes that pretend to retire, Matt too had an encore tour at Tops. I made a visit to him once during this tour. He was working the night shift stocking the frozen foods isles. Like the athlete that plays one more season when he should have walked away, it was sad to see Matt, the once lord of part-time associates, reduced to a zero visibility position.

Another of our crowd spent some time employed at Tops, Chester. He gleefully gave us reports as to his rapid rise to the “Express Lane”, giving us tips as to how he became one of these best of the best. He switched sides from making bewildered fun of the Tops cashiers who wore rubber thimbles to wearing one himself.

Having been a Tops associate for such a long time, Matt was well versed with the employee handbook. There was a statute of limitations on anything you did of five years. The exact day the limit was us, he spilled the beans of what he had done to his co-worked in the back of the store, as he was leaving for his shift. It took Matt 2 minutes to walk our the front of the store, and by then the news had traveled faster than his ironically unmeaty legs could carry him. An example of just how efficient the Tops grapevine is.

What was Matt’s hidden crime? Back when he was still a cart-boy he abandoned his post, walked across the street, and saw a movie at the old Super Saver Cinema. When the movie was over he walked back across the street and took his break.

Saving You More?

Boogie Nights

Larry has hosted a few parties I have attended. The house is filled with people, lots of goons and eye candy from Baily’s, strange new beings,and the usual suspects.

At one such party the usual suspects existed on the front lawn. At some point Larry took his 21 year old girlfriend, Larry was far her senior, to the nearby Tops to procure another keg. An hour and a half passed before they returned. To regurgitate the story, Larry was being helped by the Tops manager in acquiring the keg. Larry decided to roll the keg down the isle, breaking the tap, which was attached for some reason. Larry exercised his fast-talk abilities to entice the manager to give him another tap.

On Larry’s return from Top, he emphatically states to his barely legal, but hardly ethical woman, “I am an excellent driver.” then drives directly into a ditch.

Another party that had only myself and one other usual suspect in attendance. The rest of the house was filled with the aforementioned goons and eye-candy form Baily’s. The party was surprisingly uneventful for almost it’s extent. A dumb goon and smart goon got into a serious pushing match. These two, alone with the five other men in the house (excluding myself, Larry, and the remaining non-Baily’s goon) entered the small, dirt first floor bathroom. The three of us looked at each other, looked at the eye-candy (themselves looking at the CLOSED bathroom door), and finally laid rest our eyes upon the bathroom door. There were no screams from the bathroom. Nary a sound escaped the flimsy, dirty portal. An extended ten minutes later the goon squad existed the bathroom, all in good spirits. They all rebuffed any attempts to discover the bathroom proceedings. Larry did later throw them out when we discovered their earlier fisticuffs (that one is for you Wolf) had engraved an hefty scratch in his very expensive dining room chairs.

Many parties center around the keg, which is often the basement. Larry used this setup also, but he also placed his pool table in the basement. The usual suspects often congested around said table. An added bonus to easy access to refills and pool was the view of the people descending the stairs to refill their own cups (the standard red, plastic party cups). One night gave us witness to several people falling down the stairs, including a particular female repeatedly. Put a pin in this. Placed on the wall of the basement, adjacent to the dart board, was “The Artifact”. This was one of those giant, yarn circle things. When Larry previously owned a store on Elmwood the many transients for the half-way home on the corner (since demolished and replaced by a bakery and pottery store). They took more than they gave, bu occasionally they would offer to shovel his sidewalk (a mere two thrusts of the snow shovel and it was clear), or bring in some random item and attempt to sell it as some high-value treasure while wiping off the caked on mud. One of these transients once presented Larry with “The Artifact”. Now you can take the pin out. Picture a party in full swing; dart board and pool table in use. Here comes the previously mentioned female who manages to make it half way down the stairs (we have grown to identify her boots so we can pause to watch her tumble) before she slips, lands on her ass, slides down the staircase until she lands hard on the bare concrete floor, this triggers “The Artifact” to semi-spontaneously fall, roll down the wall, hit a chair like a ski ramp, and hit a guy in the arm just as he releases a dart, which goes off line and embeds in the dirty wall next to the ear of some fool. A side note to this party was it ended with about 40 people in the backyard scarfing down hot dogs.

These final party incidents center around women. Going back to Larry’s basement pool table at one such party; I am playing pool with someones girlfriend, who has no experience playing pool. Only due to my level of intoxication, and my familiarity with said friend and the girlfriend am I able to remark to her, upon noticing her high level of difficulty of deciding upon how to hold the cue, “Just hold it like a cock.” Problem solved.

The final incident starts out away from Larry’s party. I take my new girlfriend (of only a few weeks) to see a show recommended by Broome. We arrive and sit down to chat with Chris and Broome. Being a new female in my like, I have not yet divulged my proclivity for roleplaying. A short time into our conversation Chris says, “So Dan… combat?” Dan what not there, but Chris was failing miserably as he tried to subtly remark upon our current game of DnD. My date was perceptive enough to pick up on this. She turned sharply towards me and said, “What?” Chris and Broome immediately excused themselves. This story continues later as after the show we head over to Larry’s party. We head downstairs to find a circle of drunken fools I call friends. My lady soon asks them all questions about DnD. To my amazement no real damage was done until she asked if we dress up; to which Mike replied with, “Well of course there is always the crotchless Batman outfit.” As you can guess tremendous laughter erupted and my date bolted upstairs; as I headed after her to determine the level of her outrage, I head Dan remark, “Good luck with that one Aaron.” In closing, when I caught up to her she was not upset, but rather bent over laughing. A few weeks later we broke up; nothing to do with “combat”.

Driving Mr. Mooney

I have mentioned in previous posts and comments to this blog, that driving with Mooney is a hazard. Here I will recant the most memorable of such times, all when I was driving, and Mr. Mooney was present.

Incident One
My parents had moved to Albuquerque, NM. My Uncle lives in Rochester, NY. He had flown out to visit my parents and agreed to drive my father’s ’79 black Thunderbird back to Buffalo to give to me. My uncle called me a few hours before he arrived in Buffalo. As I was waiting for him to arrive Mooney called. Mooney jumped at the chance to go on the adventure with me. Since I was nervous about driving, in particular about navigating back from Rochester, for the first time, in the dark, I was happy to have Mooney along. We waited in the Burger King parking lot at the corner of Main and Bailey for my uncle to arrive. We got in and my uncle drove us to Rochester. Once in the car I had the notion to be nervous with Dan around, but perhaps sensing my nervousness, Mooney was on his best behavior. The ride was quiet and uneventful.

I thanked my uncle and we found our way back to the NYS Thruway. Once we had pulled out of the toll booth, Mooney presented a tape, and popped it in the tape deck. After a dramatic pause the theme song to “Batman” blasted out the speakers. I finally smiled and was put at ease. We were not pulled over, and in the end I was glad to have Mooney around to relieve the stress. Unfortunately this was the only time Mooney and I drove together without incident.

Incident One B
A quick side note on an incident with Chet in the car. The day after I had acquired the T-bird I was anxious to drive so Chet and I drove to Denny’s. On the way back I was pulled over going down NFB for driving too slow. The police asked me if I had anything to drink. “Only Mountain Dew.”

Incident Two
The second incident with Mooney was the night Matt, Wolf, Dan, and I drove up to Rumors in Canada. Matt’s girlfriend was up there dancing with her friend. I actually danced and we all had a good time, and drank plenty, except for me (not on purpose).

Dan sat at the bar upon arrival, and worked his way around the entire circular bar asking each and every woman, “What’s your sign?” No takers. Hard to imagine, but I am reminded of the words of Larry, “Dude, who cares about 50 no’s; all you need is 1 yes.” Mooney certainly has the power of no shame, and puts it to good use at times.

At the end of the night (Canada closed at 1AM in those days), Matt, Wolf, and Mooney were quite drunk. I drove Matt’s van. Dan was in the passenger seat, while Wolf and Matt passed out in the back of the “Unforgiven”.

I had never driven back from Canada myself, and I stayed on the highway, looking for signed back to the US. No one else was any help in their unconscious state. I was pretty sure I just missed my exit when Mooney stirred and I explained the situation. With utmost confidence (should have been my sign to ignore him) Mooney pointed out the correct exit.

As soon as we exited the highway I knew we were in the wrong neighborhood. I drove a few blocks and looked for a place to turn around. Mooney piped up and suggest I just turn around in the approaching intersection. Seemed like a good idea, and I did so. A cop appeared out of nowhere and pulled us over.

I told him I was driving my intoxicated friends back to the US and I had gotten lost. Mooney chose this opportune time to pass out again, or at least pretend to. The ever-friendly Canadians lead me back to the border. I managed to stir Matt and Wolf long enough to respond incoherently to customs, and they were non-the-wiser to the antics of the drive until I told them at a later time.

Incident Three
This is the most interesting episode driving with Mooney. We had just started a party at Comstock. Knaus came home and was in a a rare good mood. He immediately began drinking. Thirty minutes after Knaus got home Louis called. He was at Canisus, and needed a ride over to Comstock. After hanging up I approached Knaus about him driving me over there to find Louis. Knaus was already heavily buzzed, and tossed me his keys. Before he could change his mind I darted out the door, with Dan in tow, having invited himself along for the ride. As most of these ill-fated adventures with Mooney begin, “Why not? I could use the company and help navigating a school I had never been to.” Dan has a mystic ability to make you forget what has happened when he was around in the past.

I had not driven in well over a year, and the added pressure of being entrusted with Knaus’s car was nerve-racking. I stemmed my nerves by eating some Triscuits which I had next to me. Everything was going well, admittedly I was driving slow, but not too slow. Nevertheless sirens appeared behind us and we pulled over.

The cops pulled us over because I was driving with no headlights on. The cops also was agitated because he saw me making a repeated drinking motion from behind. I had finally convinced him it was only the Triscuits I kept munching. Luckily I had not had a drop to drink, yet.

Just as the cop was relaxed and was about to let us go I heard his partner, a female cop who was idly standing next to Mooney’s door, raised her voice. I only wish I could remember what Mooney said, but it was something she did not like. Eventually the police relaxed and let us go.

No sooner had the cops pulled away then did Mooney reach around to behind his seat and produce a can of beer! Thank god the police did not find it. At least it was not open. This turned into another of those points, like the Milkshake, that Mooney and I disagree to this day, that it was a poor idea.

There you have it, in summary, be wary when driving Mr. Mooney.

We All Have our Crosses to Bear

I can’t quite remember which year this occurred, but I am fairly certain it would have been 1993 or 1994. Matt was driving his father’s pickup truck and agreed to take a few of my family members up to the Brighton Field Days. Brighton Field Days was a local event in our neighborhood in which the volunteer fire company sold a lot of beer to drunks in a beer tent, for fundraising purposes. In any case, Matt was driving, I was in the middle of the seat, and my father was in the passenger seat (not exactly sober already). My sister and her friend were in the bed of the pickup truck.

It turns out that Matt was not very proficient at driving the truck, and made a lane switch to the right side without looking. Lower than the pickup truck, and cruising near the truck’s blind spot anyhow, was some kind of low-rider car. It had to slam on its brakes and go off the road, tires squealing and bumping as it jumped the curb in front of the Dairy Queen. Matt was planning to drop us off there anyhow, and I have no idea whether he pulled over because of the near catastrophe or just because he was in a fog (as usual), but we stopped and got out of the car. Naturally, the two guys in the car that we almost steamrolled got out too, and they were none too happy.

“HOW MANY FUCKING LANES DO YOU PEOPLE TAKE UP!?!?!” the guy shouted as he got out of the driver’s seat and moved forward. At this point, Matt cowered in the driver’s seat and my dad exited out of the right hand side. In his slow, semi-drunken way, my father responded:

“Apparently, a few more than you were willing to give.”

This was not the response that the hostile driver was expecting. He began to sputter as he blurted out:

“But you almost ran us off the god damn road!”

My dad shuffled forward a bit further and stated, nonchalantly: “We all have our crosses to bear, son.”

Now this guy, who had gotten out of the car full of anger and ready to kick Matt’s ass, was completely dumbfounded. I honestly think he had no clue what the hell to say to that. In any case, he was at the front of his car and his passenger was just giving us a completely blank look (in shock). The driver tried one more time, stuttering as he said:

“But.. but… I had to go up on the curb to get out of your way! You almost ran into my car!”

My dad responded by thrusting out his hand and grabbing the driver’s hand in a firm handshake. He loudly said, with no hesitation whatsoever:

“Great move! You just avoided an accident!”

With this congratulations, he literally put the guy back into his car by the shoulder (and, I should note, into the wrong side of the vehicle) – then walked away, as did the rest of us. Matt took off before anything else could occur and I looked back to see the driver shaking his head in disbelief as he returned to the driver’s side of the car. Since that day, I will always remember Matt’s obliviousness, which was only eclipsed by the driver’s blank look and inability to respond to my dad’s incongruous, almost shockingly calm, responses.