The Signs Are There

For Today’s Throwback Thursday and our last day of Pet Peeve Month, I’d like to share a story about my final pet peeve: misleading signs.  I can’t stand how many road signs are deceiving.  It reminds me of the song “Signs” by Tesla.  (Okay, it was originally by Five Man Electric Band, but I don’t know that version, or even that band for that matter, plus I think the remake sounds much better, so I’ll stick to the Tesla version, thank you.)

I know this TBT is long, but I think it’s funny enough that you won’t mind once you get to the end.)  One time my sister Michelle and I were torn between two concerts.  We had friends in both bands, and we wanted to see them both.  One show was in the afternoon on Jones Beach in Long Island, New York, and the other was late that night at Foxwoods Resort and Casino in Ledyard, Connecticut.  So we decided to do both.

We got to Jones Beach early, and the weather was perfect for an outdoor show.  We had a lot of fun, but the moment the show was over, we said some quick goodbyes and had to book it if we were going to make it to Foxwoods in time for our next event.  My sister drove my car, and I had the map to navigate.  Now, the driving time between these two locations is three to three and a half hours, depending on which route you take and if the weather is good, so our plan was doable.

However, as soon as we crossed over the L.I.E. (Long Island Expressway), the sky turned black and opened up.  Not only was the rain so bad, you could hardly see the front of your own car, but it was hailing as well.  The 5:00 PM sky was so dark, it might as well have been midnight.  Traffic came screeching to a halt or at least a snail’s pace, and there was no end in sight to the bad weather.  Of course, we panicked that we wouldn’t make the next show on time.  And it was at that exact moment that in the midst of all the mayhem, one of the windshield wipers flung off my car and onto the interstate somewhere!  So, as we crawled along, I climbed out my window and had to flip the empty wiper arm up so that it wouldn’t scrape up the window.  (Of course I got soaked.)

This was the in days before GPS, and cellphones still weren’t very popular yet, so there was no way for us to locate a store that might have replacement wipers other than getting off at each exit and exploring the area.  So, we made the executive decision to forge forward without the wiper.  It wasn’t as if we could see any better even when it was on, anyway.

Finally, somewhere between Stamford and Bridgeport, the rain let up to a light drizzle.  Even though it was dry in the car, we felt like drown rats by this time (especially me since I was soaking wet).  It was after 10:00 PM, and we still had more than an hour to go, and we missed the beginning of the show.  We decided to try to find a restroom and freshen up, then we figured we’d hook up with the band after the show and visit with them then, even if we missed seeing them play.  Plus, Michelle was tired of driving and wanted me to take over.

So, with our new plan in action, we felt a little better mentally, and we began looking for an exit.  Unfortunately, in a lot of the New England states, the towns roll up their carpets and go to bed at 10:00 PM (or earlier), so our choices were rather limited.  It seemed like an eternity, though I’m sure it wasn’t, when somewhere near New Haven , we saw a sign for a “24-Hour Dunkin’ Donuts – This Exit.”   So, of course we took “this exit” and followed the arrows that said “This Way to Dunkin’ Donuts.”  We ended up along one of those frontage roads — you know — the kind that’s a two-lane rural street that runs parallel to the interstate.

But there was no Dunkin’ Donuts in sight!  In fact, there were no signs of life anywhere along the dark road.  We could clearly see the interstate beside us , but there wasn’t even an entrance to get back to it.  During our search, the rain picked back up, and our speed slowed to about 20 MPH.  As Michelle attempted to see through the blackness of night, I watched the interstate and noticed that the next seven exits all had signs that said “24-Hour Dunkin’ Donuts – This Exit.”

We were flummoxed.  We didn’t understand how we could’ve possibly passed more than eight Dunkin’ Donuts on the desolate road.  Yet the signs on our road kept instructing us that we were indeed headed toward “This Way to Dunkin’ Donuts.”

Then like a beacon in the darkness, after more than forty-five minutes since we exited, we saw the neon orange and pink DD logo up ahead.  Of course we both had to pee like racehorses by then (I apologize for the TMI moment here, but I wanted you to get a good feel for what we were dealing with), and we couldn’t get there quickly enough.  However as we got to the “restaurant” (Okay, not technically a restaurant… “Shop” perhaps?), the rain was coming down quite hard, and we couldn’t see the entrance which was on the left side of the road.

A few seconds later, and we realized that we’d apparently passed the parking lot, and we looked for a way to turn around.  There were no crossroads in sight, and while our side of the road was nearly desolate, the oncoming line of traffic on the left side was bumper to bumper.

I have no idea why my sister did what she did next, but she turned into someone’s driveway on the right.  “What are you doing?” I asked her.

“I’m turning around,” she said.

“You can’t turn around here.  Look at that traffic.  We can’t back up into that,” I said.

She looked over her shoulder and realized I was right, so she faced forward, threw the car into drive, and sped forward!    I was mortified!

As you can imagine, the lights in the house went on as we drove down the long driveway and into the people’s back yard!  “What are you doing?” I screamed.  “You’re going to get us arrested!”

(As a side note, I’m cracking up laughing so hard even as I type this, that I keep having to take a break!)

She said, “I thought the driveway would have a turnaround at the end.”  (It did not.)

We had to do a three-point turn, which actually ended up being more like a seven point turn (so we wouldn’t run off into the grass and either tear up their yard or get stuck in the mud!), at the end of the driveway which ended at a carport well into the back yard of these people’s house.  The people ran outside with umbrellas and pajamas on and were screaming at us and flailing their arms.  We tried to haul butt out of there, but of course, when we got to the end of their driveway, we couldn’t turn left because there was still so much oncoming traffic.  So we had to turn right and travel a few more miles before we found a crossroad where we could turn around and go back.  We were laughing so hard by this point, that we definitely needed that restroom soon or our bladders would burst.

When we finally made it to the Dunkin’ Donuts, as we pulled into the parking lot, they turned off the light and put up a sign in the window that said they were out of donut flour and would reopen the next day.

Bwaaahaahaaa!  No, I’m totally kidding, that didn’t happen.  (But I bet that’s where you thought I was headed, right?)  When we finally made it there, we used the facilities, ordered some hot chocolate, and asked how it was that we exited where we did, yet we missed over eight more stores on the way.

The cashier told us, “You didn’t miss eight stores.  All those interstate exits lead here.”

I’m sure we looked as stupefied as we felt, but now do you see why I hate misleading signs?

So tell me, was this worth the long read?  Did I cover your pet peeve this month?  Would you like me to do another pet peeve month sometime before next year?  Do you have a tale of looking for a rest stop long after the city went to bed?  What’s the funniest traffic or driving malfunction you’ve ever been in?  (By the way, this was NOT the funniest thing that’s ever happened when my sister and I were on the road.)  What was your favorite pet peeve this month?