Reprinted from October 1998
Chip and I work very hard. Our store is open six days a week, so when it came to having a holiday on Monday, we decided we were owed three days. We put up a notice on the door and in the newspaper that we’d be closed, and we started making plans. “Well now, think of this, three whole days to do whatever we want!” Chip reaffirmed this, and we congratulated each other on our great decision.
By the time Friday came around, we were both trying to remember who to notify about our closing. We decided if anyone had work to pick up and came by, that they would come back, but nonetheless, we set about to call those we thought might come in. By the time we were set to close, Chip said we were going to wait for two important customers who wanted to pick up their items before the store closed. Instead of leaving at five, we were detained to seven. By the time we got off work we were too tired to do much of anything, but vowed to get an early start the next day driving to a couple of small towns in west Texas where we have relatives.
We thought we’d save time if we went to a local restaurant where they specialize in serving breakfast. Even though we were early, there was a line waiting, but we were confident we’d be served quickly. We weren’t.
They must have had a substitute cook and waiter because instead of asking us if we wanted chili sauce for our eggs, they asked if we wanted ketchup. The toast was soggy, the eggs were less than desirable, and we never got refills on coffee, but we were confident we’d make good time on the road and arrive at our destination in good time.
Since I work part-time rehabilitating dogs and finding homes for them, we took along a beagle which was to be placed along the way in a good home. After we had been on the road for about an hour, the beagle started baying and Chip decided he wanted to go for a walk. So, we stopped and Chip got the cage open and the beagle popped out onto the blacktop which was filthy with oil and dirt, and the dog rolled over on his back refusing to move and inviting Chip to rub his stomach. In trying to upright the beagle, Chip got oil and dirt all over his clothing, which I could tell had been purchased so he’d look nice when we got to Aunt Helen’s.
Finally, we got everything rolling again, and I told Chip I wanted to make a rest stop. At the next exit we found a nice place, but in the process, we lost more time. Finally on the road again, Chip looked into space and wondered out loud if he should have notified Mrs. Henry about her watch not being ready.
I responded with a bit of concern myself about how many people would be coming to our door only to find a sign saying we were closed. Together we wondered if we should have indulged ourselves as we traveled along.
After a brief turn off the main road to deliver the beagle, we arrived at Aunt Helen’s house in a small west Texas town about 2 p.m. We exchanged greetings and sat down to a wonderful dinner, which blew my diet right out the window. After we’d discussed everything we had in common, it was about 4 p.m., Chip was restless so he and some relatives wandered next door where Chip found someone who had a watch problem, which they discussed at length. When Chip returned he wondered about how many people had come by the store and missed us.
That evening we sat around with the TV on watching network television, as they did not have a satellite dish or cable. Chip wondered out loud if the people we had turned the store keys over to were taking care of the store, and if the alarm was being monitored.
Aunt Helen brought out all the jewelry she needed to be repaired, and Chip spent the better part of the evening somewhere in between admiring, and pretending to appreciate her things. He agreed to fix specific things, while turning down others which couldn’t be repaired satisfactorily.
I’d forgotten what it was like to share a bedroom with someone, and Chip had to make do on the living room couch. The family got up at 5 a.m. Right away, Chip was wondering about the store and the customers, but I reminded him this was a great mini-vacation and we were just going to have to try to enjoy ourselves.
Aunt Helen, who is 82, served up slab bacon and grits with eggs for breakfast. I reminded Chip that we were both on a low-fat diet. He reminded me that it was a mini-vacation. Later that day we left, amid gifts of apples and garden vegetables and several dozen fresh eggs, to make another visit to Uncle Joe’s who lived about two hundred miles away.
All the way to Uncle Joe’s we were mostly silent except for an occasional comment about Aunt Helen and her inexpensive jewelry and their diets, and sleeping accommodations. Arriving at Uncle Joe’s, the welcome mat was definitely out, and we were made welcome with a meal of chili con carne and tamales.
This meal plus what we had already been eating, didn’t do my delicate stomach any good at all and by now I was feeling queasy down there.
There is one thing about our relatives – they don’t believe in air conditioning. It seemed terribly hot, and by mid-afternoon, we decided to go downtown and look at windows.
There was a little jewelry shop there, so we pressed our noses against the window and assessed the inventory and equipment. Later in the day, we drove about fifty miles to one of those malls where we walked aimlessly about looking at jewelry and fashions, and bumping into shoppers as we walked for miles. Uncle Joe had come with us and he wanted to show us where he bought all of his jewelry. It turned out to be at Walmart, which was another football field away.
After we walked here and there, I was thankful to be back in an air-conditioned vehicle, when all of a sudden, the air conditioner sputtered out. We stopped by a place where Uncle Joe got work done on his car, but they told us that all parts came from the big city and we’d be better off to wait until we got back home.
Maybe the air conditioner problem was just an excuse to get an early start, or maybe it was because we’d had enough heavy cooking, but whatever it was, we decided to be on the road at 5 a.m. We left with more gifts plus a hand full of jewelry repair work. Uncle Joe had given us two bushels of green chilies, a bushel of onions, a huge bag of summer squash and three watermelons. We had to lock the doors to keep anything else out!
As we drove along chatting about the relatives and the food, and what a wonderful mini-vacation this had been, and how we’d like to do it again on our next three day week, the car sputtered and died. Pulling to the side of the road, the cell-phone read “No Service,” so we had to wait until a state trooper stopped to help us and call a wrecker service. We waited for three long hours for this, and had to pay the wrecker service $580 for the tow.
Come to think of it, maybe on the next three-day weekend that comes up, we’ll work. It would be easier on the body and on the mind, and it would not produce a lot of extra repair work. It would also be a whole lot cheaper.
Chip bought a new vehicle when we got back! Who says, “This is as good as it gets!” NO MORE MINI VACATIONS FOR ME!!!