My Home Away From Home

Jackie Wells-Fauth

One of the most consistent parts of my working life is the fact that I have always had a fairly steady commute. I have always had to drive from one town to another to teach and that means a lot of time in the car. Or, as I call it, my home away from home.

My car is equipped with all of the necessities for a vehicle which is exposed to the vagaries of the South Dakota weather. It has windshield wipers, four-wheel drive, warning camera indicators. But those are the minor things. My car is also stocked with all of the things which ensure that I have a safe and comfortable drive.

Of course, food is critical. I always have candy bars and fruit snacks stashed somewhere at hand. I also bring along plenty of water and pop and then there are the fresh doughnuts and such that I add in on special occasions. I like chocolate and powered sugar ones the most, but I stopped getting those after Roy drove my car one day and got a butt full of doughnut residue. According to his “hysterical” account, he looked like a drug dealer who had soiled himself!

Of course, by the time I have added in the books I carry with me — you never know when you will get stopped by a train and need something to do — and my extra winter wraps — because I can never find my gloves when its time to go — and my lunchbox — obviously — I have a pretty full front seat.

Now, this is not counting the other items essential for a road trip. Of course I must have my purse which is so overstuffed that it looks like I’m carrying the living room sofa around, and it takes up a lot of space. It also has the regrettable tendency to tip over in the car, so in my yearly cleaning I find a lot of loose change, chap stick containers and random loose cough drops.

I never let Roy clean the car because then I would have to explain why I have a flyswatter located convenient to hand. He seems to think that trying to swat the annoying flies that always seem to get into the car, while I am driving down the road is a hazard. I have tried to explain that flies landing on my face, forcing me to swing at them with a soda bottle is also a hazard, but he won’t listen.

I would also have to explain why there are random vitamins or fiber capsules lying around on the floor. But he doesn’t understand that those buggers are really slippery and when I’m trying to take them on the drive to school in the morning, they frequently slip out of my hands and land on the floor. I can’t pick them up and take them then, can I? The floor is dirty because I never vacuum. If I never vacuum my house, I could hardly be expected to vacuum my home away from home, could I? He took a look at the capsules strewn throughout the car and said, “You’ll be arrested as soon as they see that and only after they test for Metamucil will they know you aren’t a drug dealer.”

Of course, with all the items I have in the car, I do need a nice little trash bin, but I keep forgetting to buy one. Therefore, there are candy wrappers, plastic drink bottles and doughnut napkins on the floor, in the compartment in the door, stuck between the seats and of course, in the glove box. On my annual cleaning day, I take out bags of garbage and I also retrieve quite a bit of change…usually enough to buy myself another candy bar!

Of course, no home away from home would be complete without a companion and I have one of those: it’s called the radio. It is from this chatty little friend that I learn all the latest gossip, sing along with for all the latest songs and keep ahead of the latest trends. For instance, I learned that if you smile really big even when you don’t feel it, it will improve your mood. It works while I’m still in my little home away from home with my food, coffee and purse, but the minute I step out and meet actual people, it’s a lot harder. My radio friend didn’t mention that.

Now I know there are inconveniences to my little home away from home. I would hate to have to spend the night in it and there isn’t a great deal of room for the television, but still, I find myself very comfortable on my commute back and forth to work. And as soon as I get one of those self-driving cars I’m going to bring along my microwave and oh, maybe even my needlework! Hope you all have a safe and happy commute to work this week and make sure to smile!

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