Wednesday, June 25, 2008

COLUMN: Turn Signal

What? You're kidding, right? Vacation's OVER?! I need to write a new column, you say? But... I'm playing Rock Band, can't this wait? No? Sheesh, okay, fine.

Well, I suppose the first thing I should touch on is Kanye West. The self-proclaimed "brightest star in the universe" brought his Glow In The Dark Tour to the iWireless Center last week, and sadly, our paper didn't get to cover it. Apparantly, priority had to be given to the entire state of Iowa being one Shamu away from our very own underwater adventure park. In addition, Kanye's star is apparantly SO bright that no members of the press were allowed in to capture his heavenly visage.

It's a shame, too, because it was one of the most elaborate productions to ever grace the iWireless stage, and definitely a show I won't be forgetting for some time. Too bad that the most memorable parts happened AFTER the show got out.

My friends and I knew things were getting interesting about halfway through the gig. Chris Brown had just jumped onstage with Rihanna (a total surprise and the highlight of the concert) when we first started to hear the rumblings of thunder from a distant outdoors. That's when the gossip mill opened for business.

Folks around me were getting text messages on their cell phones and whispers were flying throughout the venue, each one more dramatic and catastrophic than the last: Tornado sirens were going off. Funnel clouds had been seen in Moline. Tornados had been seen in Moline. Tornados were bearing down on the iWireless Center. Mothra was destroying the entire Quad Cities.

Eventually, we decided to check it out for ourselves and headed outside for a peep -- only to be turned away by an armada of iWireless staffers and police. Apparantly, some of the hype was real. Tornado sirens WERE going off. Funnel clouds HAD been spotted. Greeeeat.

No worries, right? The professionals had assessed the situation and determined that the safest course of action would be to return to our seats safely underneath a one-ton lighting truss. As I wondered what it would feel like to be konked on the head by a spotlight at gale force velocity, I reminded myself that we'd obviously be fine. We were, after all, in the presence of greatness. I'll guarantee you that at some point in his career, Kanye West has declared himself more powerful than Mother Nature. Surely his egotism would protect us all. And hey, worst case scenario, if we DID end up going to the pearly gates en masse, at least we'd have a groovy soundtrack for the ride.

At the end of the show, as Kanye was prattling on about being bigger than the Beatles and U2 combined, we made a break for the exit. Now thankfully un-blocked, we strolled out of the concert into full-on weatherpocalyse. Rain was pelting us sideways. Lightning ripped through the skies. Cows and small children flew through the air willy-nilly. Okay, maybe no cows, but it was nasty. By the time we made it to the car, I was sopping. Seriously, I've taken showers and gotten less wet.

Once inside my ATB (All-Terrain Beetle,) we were kindly directed by parking staff onto River Drive and a foot and a half of standing water. We made it about 100 yards before the finest in German engineering went "Achtung!" und das engine went kaput. After a refreshing nature hike (aka pushing the car 2 blocks to high ground,) it restarted -- kinda -- and I was able to chitty chitty bang bang it home while giving my friends mild cases of whiplash.

I was hoping all would be well the next day, and for the most part it was. The Quad Cities hadn't blown away, my apartment was still above water, and my car started up problem-free. Then I moved it and discovered right away that my turn signals and hazard lights were done for. It was Friday afternoon. I called every garage I could think of, but was given estimates from 3-10 days and excuses like, "We'd love to help, but we're a little underwater at the moment." Stupid flood.

So I had to make do all weekend without turn signals. I flashed back to angry ol' Mr. Bunch's Driver's Ed class. There were hand signals for these moments of crisis, right? Straight out for a left turn, up for a right turn. I could do this for a few days.

A couple problems, it turns out:

(1) Sticking your arm straight out into the path of oncoming traffic is kinda stupid on the narrow streets of Rock Island.

(2) Sticking your arm up to indicate that you're turning right looks a heck of a lot like you're waving to strangers, which is exactly what every passing car thought I was doing. My hand would be saying, "Hi, I'm turning right." Their hand would instinctively reply, "Why are you waving at me, freakshow? This is awkward but I guess I'd better wave back. Wave-ity wave wave!"

So, Quad Citizens, I apologize if you were one of the folks accosted by a weird dude in a Volkswagen challenging you to a waving match this weekend. I swear I was simply trying to turn into Taco Bell. Which brings me to my final important learned lesson: When one is trying to shift, wave, steer, and eat at the same time, one's Cheesy Double Beef Burrito WILL land on one's rather expensive silk shirt.

I'm sending the dry cleaning bill to Kanye.

No comments: