Sunday, August 02, 2009

Vacation: Day 1

Eat your vegetables. Brush your teeth. Take your vitamins. Don’t slouch like that. Make sure your jacket’s zipped all the way up to your chin. I DON’T CARE IF IT’S AUGUST, GODDAMMIT, ZIP UP YOUR JACKET AND DON’T TALK BACK TO ME AGAIN!

Sorry. Sorry. Didn’t mean to yell like that. It’s just that I’m a little tired right now, having driven all the way from Connecticut to the luxurious Super 8 on the outskirts of Quebec City. (By “luxurious” I mean “It has an indoor water park.”) I also made the mistake of stopping at the Vermont “Welcome Center” on I-91, just over the state line from Massachusetts.

Vermont’s a lovely state, but I always experience a wave of low-grade irritation when I stop at the Welcome Center and read all the signs reminding my grown-up self that seatbelts are good and smoking is bad and making personal decisions is hard and that’s why the government does it for you.

The Welcome Center sign that irritates me most of all is actually two signs mounted on a single post by the center’s exit ramp; the top sign says “Airbags Save Lives” while the bottom one reads “Place Children in Rear Seat.” I always thought truth-in-advertising laws should require an additional sign explaining that kids have to stay in the back seat because if they’re up front, an exploding airbag will kill them.

But I had no time for filing lawsuits today, because I wanted to cross the border into Canada as soon as possible. I did, however, have my camera ready, so I could photograph the sign and then Photoshop it into something educational enough to post here. But when we got to the exit ramp, the sign was gone.

“It’s about time they took the damned thing down,” I said to my Traveling Companion. “I like to think it’s because some Vermont transportation official read the blog post I wrote about that stupid sign, and realized the error of his ways.”

“You go right ahead and tell yourself that,” my Traveling Companion replied. And so I did, which kept me in a fine mood until we crossed into Canada and the friendly border guard asked us, “Do you have your passports?”

He, of course, had no interest in seeing them; he just wanted to make sure we wouldn’t wind up stranded in his country now that our own freedom-loving government won’t let us come home without a passport anymore. I think my shoulders slumped a little when I said “Yes, thank you,” to the guard.

The line of American cars trying to get into Canada was much, much longer than the line of Canadian cars trying to enter America. Considering how insulting my government is to its own citizens these days, I don’t blame so-called foreigners for wanting to stay the hell away. I would too, if I had anywhere else to go.


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