"I swear Janice, if I hear one more word out of you, I will stop this car and one of us will have to leave.”
Charles and Janice had driven thousands of miles in their trusty VW van, from Chicago to southern Mexico, all around the province of Oaxca looking for interesting pottery and then back to Illinois. Although they usually got along, on the last stretch home they were arguing about where to stop for lunch.
Charles wanted to keep going to get home before dark. He thought they had enough peanuts and other snacks to stave off starvation. Janice was tired and knew he was too. She thought it would be safer to take a break.
“If you’re that tired, climb into the back and sleep,” he snorted. “I’m not tired. I’ve got plenty of get up and go left.”
Janice held her tongue and climbed into the back of the van. Although her mind raced with thoughts of what she should say to Charlie, she decided to keep the peace. That old question played in her mind, “Do you want to be right, or do you want to be happy?” Happy she decided and slowly fell asleep.
Two hours later, Charlie noticed they were getting low on gas. A billboard advertised a cheap price and he decided to pull in to the service station. He got out, filled the tank, and went inside to pay.
Coming back to the car, he thought, Boy, Janice must be tired, usually she hops out at every rest stop. Well, I can manage the driving until she wakes up.
He continued cruising down the interstate under the speed limit, not wanting a ticket to ruin this last day. Checking his rear view, he was surprised to see a state trooper coming up behind him. As the trooper turned on his flashing lights, Charlie was astounded and called back to Janice, “Hey, there’s a state trooper wanting to pull me over. I don’t know why. I’m not going over the speed limit.”
He carefully pulled over to the shoulder, rolled down his window, and started to pull out his wallet for his driver’s license.
The trooper leaned into the window, smiled and asked, “Are you Charles Jordan?”
Eyes bugging out, Charlie admitted that he was.
“Did you forget something?”
“I…I…don’t think so.”
“Where’s your wife?”
“She’s…she’s …just in back, taking a nap.” And Charlie turned around and took a good look in the back of the van. “Oh, my gosh, she’s not there. What happened? Where is she?”
“You left her back at the gas station. She got out to use the restroom while you were inside paying. I guess you didn’t see her, unless you did it on purpose?” The trooper looked at Charlie with a question in his eyes.
“Oh my gosh, no, no. I got to go get her. Oh my gosh. How mad is she?”
“Well, let’s just say, you’d better get back there as soon as possible. There’s an interstate crossing you can use up ahead. I’ll follow you to make sure you don’t get lost.”
Meanwhile back at the gas station, Janice was sitting at the lunch counter, enjoying a hamburger and fries. It had been a shock not to see the van when she came out. And she did have a few bad moments when she thought Charlie had left her deliberately. But she knew he would never really do that. Everyone had been so nice. The station manager had called the state police to track Charlie down and then had offered Janice a free lunch to sooth her frazzled nerves.
Poor Charlie, Janice thought. Nothing turned out the way he thought it would.