By Dom Cioffi
Summer vacation is a gift to children, but as most parents realize, the logistics of finding a place for your child every day for three months can prove daunting.
No amount of planning or money can deter the occasional hiccup when no one is around to watch them and no place is available to send them.
This happened to me last week when every option I looked into failed, leaving me only two choices: take the day off or bring my son to work with me. I opted for the latter.
Initially I thought it would work out fine since I had a couple appointments away from the office that he could accompany me on. However, I made the fatal mistake of forgetting his iPad, which I had counted on to keep him entertained while I had my meetings.
I cursed once we got onto the road and he announced my miscue (I tried to blame him, but he reminded me that I took the device away from him the night prior).
So there we were, traveling down the road together in the early morning light – me with a coffee, my son with a hot chocolate.
And then it happened.
Our destination required us to hop on the Interstate and no sooner were we cascading down the on-ramp when the traffic came to a near screeching halt. I goose-necked around the corner of the truck in front of me to try to get view of the problem, but I could see nothing.
Five minutes… 10 minutes… 15 minutes passed.
While my son barely noticed the traffic situation, my irritation was growing exponentially. “C’mon!” I urged, pounding my open palm on the steering wheel repeatedly.
We weren’t at a total standstill, but I’m quite certain we never broke the 15 mph barrier either.
Finally, we crested a small incline in the road where I would get a chance to see for miles ahead. I prayed that the situation causing the back-up was just over the knoll and we would soon be past the blockage and back on schedule.
And sure enough, as soon as I could see over the cars in front of me, it became apparent that the traffic jam was lifting. A huge sense of anxiety released from my body as I realized that I would not be late for my appointment.
As we passed the cause of the back-up, I noticed two cars on the side of the road with a police cruiser behind them. The officer’s blue lights were still flashing, but no one appeared upset or concerned. In fact, I couldn’t see any visible damage to either vehicle.
That caused me to launch into a tirade about people being overly concerned about seeing someone one’s else’s bad fortune. My son looked confused so I explained that the entire traffic jam we just experienced was because everyone slowed down to see what had happened and if they had just minded their own business, everyone’s commute would have been a lot less tedious.
I could see his little head working through what I had said, but he obviously wasn’t grasping my entire point.
Later that day, after I had finished with my appointments, we jumped back onto the Interstate to head home and wouldn’t you know it, we ran right into another traffic jam. This time, however, the traffic moved even slower.
I immediately launched into another tirade about the causes of traffic jams. “Here we go again!” I bellowed. “Some guy probably hit a porcupine and now we’ve got to suffer through and extra hour in our commute!”
Five minutes… 10 minutes… 15 minutes passed.
My son could sense my irritation level growing. I was just about to unleash another verbal chastising of my fellow commuters when the sound of a siren came screaming up behind us. Soon we could see the flashing lights as an ambulance ripped past us on the shoulder.
“Maybe someone is hurt?” my son questioned.
Sure enough, as we approached the scene of the accident, we could see debris strewn across the highway, where two vehicles were completely destroyed. The rescue workers were lifting one of the victims into the ambulance while two others were being attended to in the grass.
I could sense the concern as my son looked out his window onto the scene as we drove slowly by. He was quiet for a moment and then quite pointedly stated, “Dad, I think it’s important to look at an accident. Because if no one bothered to look, then you’d never know if they needed help.”
And once again, I was intellectually upstaged by an 11-year-old.
Watching this week’s feature, “Amy,” was eerily close to watching those poor people suffering after that car accident.
Based on the short life and tragic demise of singer Amy Winehouse, “Amy” is comprised of two hours of actual footage of her life, exposing her epic rise to stardom and her painful battle with the fame and addictions that ultimately destroyed her.
Any music fan will find this documentary mesmerizing, not only for the genius that was inherent in Winehouse’s voice and music, but also for the price that fame can wreak on a fragile soul.
Check this one ASAP, but be prepared for a heartbreaking story.
A wrenching “A-” for “Amy.”
Got a question or comment for Dom? You can email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.