Patience truly is a virtue, and save for the times when I have a fishing pole clutched in my hand or a rifle at my side, it is not one I possess. I wish I could extend the the calm peaceful ability to patiently wait things out beyond the river bank or deer blind. But alas I cannot.
This ugly truth is perfectly illustrated by a recent road trip.
In mid June, my oldest son attended a Catholic youth camp down in East Texas. A place called The Pine just outside of Big Sandy, Texas. Big Sandy is nearly 500 hundred miles from my home here in Amarillo so the trip was a long one. Jennifer and another boy's mom drove several kids down, but when it was time to fetch my son I loaded up in the car along with Jennifer and our 7 year old.
We headed out and I had just pulled out of the small town of Chillicothe, Texas when I spotted every speeders worst nightmare. The black white cruiser of a Texas DPS officer crested the hell in front of me as I glanced down to see the speedometer needle dead center between 80 and 90. As we passed him heading north, me south we made eye-contact. He threw a u-turn through the median. I pulled over to the side of the road not far from a sign reading SPEED LIMIT 70 MPH.
I was doing at least 15 miles and hour over. I wondered what the fine was gonna cost me as the trooper approached. "Where ya headed," he asked.
"Big Sandy," I said.
"That's a serious drive. What's in Big Sandy?" He asked as I handed over my drivers license and insurance card.
"Picking up my son. He's been down there all week at a Catholic youth camp." The officer was Spanish so I hoped he had recited a few Our Father's in his day.
"Oh yeah," he said. "How many kids from your parish went?"
He said parish, not congregation or church. But parish. I tried not to smile as he asked a few more questions.
"You have a clean record?"
"Far as I know," I said.
"Okay," I'm gonna run your ID if it comes back clean I'm gonna let you off with a warning."
Ten minutes later, I was scooting down the road free as a bird. And try as I might I couldn't keep my foot off the gas, but for the remainder of the drive Lady Luck smiled upon me and nary was another trooper sighted.
The three of us checked into a Best Western in Mineola, Texas for the night and all was well as I drifted off to sleep.
Then it started. Bang, bang. Not the loud echoing bang of a gunshot or even a car backfiring, but more of a thud. Thud, thud as a matter of fact. I recognized the sound. Someone in an adjacent room had flipped out the security lock to keep the door to their room from shutting all the way.
The sound surrounded me. I heard it from the room to the south, the room to the north.
Thud, thud. Thud, thud. Thud, thud.
For the love of God were these people moving in for good? how much shit did they have to carry inside?
Thud, thud. Then voices. Lots of voices. and laughter, and thud, thud.
Finally I had enough. I threw back the covers and stood. "Where you going?" Jennifer asked.
"To tell them damned people to quit slamming their doors!"
"In your boxers?" she said.
"Damn right, I ain't afraid to let them see my big hairy gut."
I stood there in the brightly lit hall of the Best Western in a classic gunfighters stance clad in only my plaid boxers. Unlike a pistolero I didn't reach for my gun when my enemy stepped into the hall. Instead I glared at the young teenage boy as the door he'd just exited flopped shut behind him.
"Is that you keeps banging your door?"
The boy eyed me suspiciously. I ... uh. I'm not sure. My buddies .. we ...
"Whoever the hell it is you need to stop. I'm trying to get some sleep."
I climbed back into my warm bed and for a time it was quiet. Then I hear it again.
I dialed the front desk. Registered my complaint and was told several baseball teams were staying on my floor, but they would take care of the problem.
The thud, thuds, slowed but did not end for several more hours.
In the morning I staggered downstairs with bloodshot eyes and revenge in my heart. I loaded the car and dialed the hotel. "Room 219 please," I said when the clerk answered.
Jennifer shot me an incredulous look. We had stayed next door in room 217.
A sleepy voice answered, "Hello," on the 3rd ring.
Doing my best drill instructor imitation I screamed. "Wake up! Wake up! Wake Up! It's time for you boys to rise and shine1 Roll out of bed! Hurry! Hurry! Hurry!"
And then I hung up.
Jennifer shook her head. "Now YOU are the one being childish."
I stuck my chin out proudly I said," Yep, and it damn sure felt good."
I drove down the road smiling and happy to be alive as my heart went ... thud, thud ... inside my chest.