Take a Right

Before we were married, before we lived together, Jeff and I attended a work Christmas party together.

He’d had a few drinks and was tuckered out from dancing, so I offered to drive his truck home. He gave me some initial directions and then sat back for the ride. When, I’d reached the end of the first leg, I asked for the next set of directions. I had to wake him up, but he answered quite coherently. I followed his advice until I sort of knew where I was. As we neared Roger’s Highway, I wanted to be sure I didn’t miss his mom’s house, so I asked for guidance, again.

He was momentarily confused when I woke him up for that. But, after assessing our surroundings, told me to turn left onto Roger’s. I already knew that. “How far I should go?” I asked. Jeff said he’d let me know.

When it seemed I’d be driving longer than I expected, I looked over to see that he was asleep, again. So, I nudged him awake, again.

“Oh,” he said. “Where are we?” I read him the street sign we were passing. “Ok,” he said. “Take the next right.” So, I did. Another minute went by and nothing looked familiar, so I asked. “Jeff, where do I go next.”

“Oh,” he said. “Take the next right.”  I drove along on a dark country road for another few minutes. When I came to a set of railroad tracks, I had a feeling something had gone wrong. I came to a stop, pulled on his sleeve, and said, “Jeff, I don’t think this is right…”

Suddenly, he sat up straighter in his seat, turned to me and in all seriousness asked, “Where are we?!”

“What do you mean ‘Where are we?! I’ve been following your directions!”

“Oh,” he said. “I was sleeping!” I was startled into silence, while Jeff craned his neck around to try and get his bearings.

“Well, I’m not sure…” he started. Interrupted by clanging bells, flashing lights and the lowering of the railroad gate, he seemed even more stunned. “You must have missed mom’s,” he mused. I reminded him I’d been following his directions. Jeff reminded me that he’d been asleep.

“Are you awake now?” I asked. “Yeah, I’m awake now,” he affirmed, gesturing grandly toward the train rumbling by us.

“That’s great,” I nodded. Shivering and lost, I told Jeff to get out of the truck and change seats with me. “But… we’re almost home!,” he countered. Halfway out of the driver’s door, I half-laughed and full-on snorted “uh, huh.… and you’re going to stay awake and get us there!”

Another time, on the way back from a casino run to Mt. Pleasant, late at night, almost early in the morning, I was once again the designated driver. This time Jeff hadn’t had anything to drink, but he was super sleepy. So, I took the reins and drove the three of us back to my apartment. With Jeff in the passenger seat and my out-of-town friend in the back seat, we’d been on the nearly empty highway for about 30 minutes. She and I were keeping each other awake and talking and laughing, when suddenly Jeff flung his arm across in front of me, pointed and screamed, “Deer!!!!”

I, immediately, (unfamiliar with recommended and unrecommended deer avoidance actions) slammed on the brakes. My friend found her front half and one wildly waving arm over the center console, accidentally jabbing Jeff as she tumbled. In full-on panic, Jeff grabbed for the dash board. His head shot toward me as he bellowed, “Huh? What? Whoa! WHAT ARE YOU DOING!?”

“What do you mean ‘What am I doing?’” I shouted back. “You said there was a deer!”

“I didn’t see any deer!” he yelled. “I WAS SLEEPING!”

“You pointed at it!” My friend and I almost simultaneously shouted back.

Jeff never truly believed that I had been following his direction to his mom’s house. I’m not sure he believed me about the deer, either. At least this time, I had a witness. A slightly bruised, but very gracious witness. She and I still laugh about that. 

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