Sunday, May 29, 2011

The Road Trip, Part 7: Mysterious Ways

The two sides of my family couldn’t be more different. My mom was from the city and my dad is from the backwoods. My dad’s family is generally pretty reserved while my mom’s side is rather rowdy. They both have their share of dysfunction but my mom’s side, the Lewis’, can be just plain hood with theirs. The Lewis side of my personality was ready to come out when I learned that someone had stolen my grandfather’s suits.

My dad and his siblings shook their heads at the discovery while I fought the urge to put up wanted posters throughout the town. I laid on the couch and thought of exactly what I’d say. “Wanted: whoever stole my granddaddy’s suits. I’m looking for you.” If I didn’t think it would embarrass my family, I would have at least taken an ad out in the local paper.

Who in the world steals from an 88-year-old man? My cousin is known to associate and procreate with felons, so, maybe some of her friends needed court clothes. Also, my grandpa had a friend known for “boosting.” If you’d steal from JC Penny’s and sell the stolen goods, maybe you’d steal from an old man and sell his suits? I don’t know. The whole situation was beyond logic.

To add to the insanity of it all, my father went looking for a pair of silk pajamas he and my mother had given my grandfather as a gift. They were also gone.

We didn’t have time to go pistol whipping the citizens of Newport, AR looking for these pajamas, we had a wedding to get to. My dad and I climbed into his white Lincoln MKS and started along our way. When we reached West Memphis, we stopped for gas and I reminded him to call his friend, Mary, about my foot. Mary said her pedicurist wouldn’t be available for an hour but her podiatrist could see me right away. We opted to see the podiatrist and headed into the city to get some professional help for this pain in my toe.

I was concerned about seeing a doctor because I didn’t have insurance. What if it was something serious and I needed a procedure? How much would this cost? Once I checked in at the doctor’s office, I found out it would cost $150 just to see the doctor. By this time, I’m praying it’s something simple that won’t require multiple visits.

Once the fee was paid and I waited a short while, a young lady with coke bottle glasses and microbraids escorted me to the back. My dad was torn between making sure his car was ok or going back to the room with me. I won this initial round versus the Lincoln.

The lazy eyed woman took me back up near the front of the office to weigh me but she couldn’t operate the machine. I don’t know if she couldn’t see if the bar was balanced in the middle of the beam or if she just didn’t understand the concept of the non-digital scale but I tried to pretend not to notice. Poor thing.

Mary stopped by the office to make sure we were taken care of. When Dr. Davis came into the room, they hugged like they were best friends and she told him to make sure he took good care of me.

The doctor was very friendly. He moved to Memphis from New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. He took one look at my inflamed toe and said, “Yep. You have an ingrown toe nail.” THANK YOU JESUS! It wasn’t an infection and didn’t need to be amputated or whatever other dramatic outcome I had been bracing myself for.

Dr. Davis said he’d have to cut a portion of my toenail away and the nailbed would be exposed until it healed. “Um.... I have a wedding to be in on the 30th and I have to wear open toe heels,” I said. He said he could cut a little from the corner of my toe to relieve the pressure and the pain. You wouldn’t be able to tell he’d done anything, he assured me.  I’d still be able to get a pedicure and wear heels but I’d have to come back to get the rest taken care of after the wedding. “Ok, that sounds great. When I come back, will I have to pay the $150 again?”

“Oh, no. I’ll make a note for the front desk that it’s free of charge,” he said. I beamed. Thank God for Mary and the homie hookup!

We soon got back on the road to make the six hour trip to Atlanta. It looked like everything would work out and my mind finally started to rest. We ran into a little rain just as we were leaving Memphis but it passed quickly.

As we approached Jasper, AL the clouds were eerily dark. The closer we got, we started hearing sirens and fire trucks rushed past. We kept on our way and noticed the highway signs were completely bent. Some bent over backwards, others twisted as if stretching before a workout. Then we started noticing large tree branches in the middle of the highway. Clearly, a serious windstorm had just come through this very highway.

Once we got to Birmingham, we were four miles from the exit to highway 20 heading toward Atlanta when the traffic made a complete stop. Nothing moved and the lights were out in the city.

We sat there for about 20 minutes when my dad told me to ask the person in the truck next to us what was going on. “A tornado just hit about four blocks ahead,” she said.

All I could think about was my toe and how if it hadn’t been such a pain, my dad and I probably would have met that tornado head on in Birmingham.

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