Al Batt: A lane was closed to ease the congestion out there 

Published 8:45 pm Tuesday, September 13, 2022

Tales from Exit 22 by Al Batt

A turtle passed me.

Al Batt

It was a bafflement. 

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I’d been humming the theme from “Jeopardy” as I paused on a busy highway.

The turtle gave me a keen grasp of my situation. I don’t know what kind of turtle it was because it zoomed by so quickly. It might have been a Mitsubishi, but I think that was what I was driving.

Upon further investigation, I discovered it was Labor Day and I was on I-70. I’d been working in Steamboat Springs and was on my way to the Denver International Airport. The traffic was heavy, it took me over 3 1/2 hours to travel 84 miles. Lord, have mercy on those who get what they deserve. I know many of you have had worse travel and I may have, too, but this one was a doozy. In general, I never, sometimes, always make good time. After humming the theme to “Jeopardy” for a couple of hours, I expanded my repertoire to include Roger Miller’s “King of the Road” and “On the Road Again” by Canned Heat.

There are side effects to being in a traffic jam in 99° weather — overheating cars, running out of gas and seeing vehicles painted ghastly colors.

I sat unmoving for a long time at the start of those 84 miles, making the same number of miles as that Peloton gathering dust in someone’s home. I like traffic lights, but only the green ones — I want to keep moving. There was a drastic reduction in the usual crackle of energy and exuberance inside my vehicle.

I have time to think while mired in a traffic jam. I wondered how many driver’s ed instructors there were on that highway. I hoped the next mile would be better than the last mile. I wanted to argue with the traffic, but I’m not the kind to do that.

I considered my predicament and found a sunny side. It’s amazing how tasty an ancient, stale cracker that had fallen between the seats can be. I wasn’t in this thing alone and there were no flies on me. It does a man good to have no flies on him. I’d enjoyed cranes, canapes and conversations with friends in Steamboat Springs. A meadowhawk landed on my hat. People tried to take a photo of the lovely critter, but it would have none of it. When a camera came near, the dragonfly went far. So, I’d had a fly on me — a red dragonfly called a meadowhawk — but it was a good thing. It was September. Septem means “seven” and it’s the ninth month of the year. That’s because the Last Bank of Two Bits gave their better customers a calendar each year and created July and August because the bank needed more holidays. I rib the Last Bank of Two Bits. September is the ninth month of the year in the Julian and Gregorian calendars, one of four months to have a length of 30 days, and one of five months to have fewer than 31 days. September is an odd month, just like the other 11. It covers a bit of two of our top four seasons. Sept. 22 is the first day of fall. September is a month-long goodbye to summer when leaf blowers that destroy the hearing of trees are made ready. It’s a reminder to floss the leaf rake regularly and we start mumbling nasty things about winter. It’s an important month, as without it, we’d go from August right into October.

I was on my way home. Another year of my wedded bliss had gone into the annals in September. How long would I think I’ve been married if I didn’t know the date of our wedding? Together is my favorite place to be. Home is no longer a place, it’s a person. I like who I am when I’m around my wife.

I made predictions while hoping my vehicle had a chance to gain another inch of the highway. My winter weather prediction is that it will be colder than the summer.

Albert Camus wrote, “Autumn is a second spring when every leaf is a flower.”

A leaf doesn’t fight the wind.

A driver of a rented Mitsubishi doesn’t fight the traffic.

Al Batt’s column appears in the Tribune every Wednesday.