By Caroline Zybala – 2014
After a long day of traveling, all anyone ever wants to do is go home. Our group had spent all day exploring the exciting downtown of Raleigh, and by the time four o’clock rolled around, we were ready to hit the road. But we didn’t actually leave the city until four due to our apparent inability to find our parked car.
Entering what we believed was our parking garage, we were slightly perplexed when we entered the second level and the vehicle was nowhere in sight. Assuming that we had the location wrong, the four of us wound our way up the next few levels, searching for missing car. When our searches proved fruitless, we stood in the middle of the road, staring at each other, and trying to backtrack in our minds.
Finally, Jenna remembered that before entering the parking garage, we had not passed the blow up dancing man that was flailing around in front of the convention center where the International Festival was being held. Laughing at our stupidity, we descended the stairs (well, took the elevator if we are being honest), and trekked over to the second parking garage on the opposite side of the building.
Sure enough, the car was sitting right there on the second level, where we knew it was parked. Thankful to finally get off our feet and start the drive home, we piled into the car and turned on the GPS to get directions home. Keep in mind; it is now 4:30 as we exit the garage. The drive to Raleigh took us approximately one hour, so we were anticipating it taking roughly the same amount of time to drive back. I had a meeting at six pm that evening, but at that point, I was not concerned about making it back to campus in time.
So, we are driving along, chatting about the things we saw and the people we met in Raleigh, when we turn a corner on the road and were greeted by a sea of brake lights. The four of us let out an audible groan as we slow to a complete stop on the highway. None of us had accounted for any type of traffic, given that it was a Sunday. Glancing at the GPS, we watched as the minutes until arrival crept upwards as we slowly inched down the road.
After many groans and rolled eyes, the traffic began to move again. Trying not to freak out, I tried not to look at the GPS, knowing that our arrival time had to be past six. Naturally, I had to look to know how bad it was. Due to the traffic we had encountered, we were now supposed to arrive at 6:15 pm. Since I was the one driving, and I was the one who had to be somewhere at six, I made the executive decision to take matters into my own hands and get us back to campus before six.
After looking around for a speed limit sign, we couldn’t find a limit that was posted. I promptly accelerated and began the race against the clock. A large portion of this drive was on an empty, one lane road, which allows us to fly towards Elon. But of course, there was the occasional car out on a Sunday drive, which would force us to slow down until it was safe to pass them. Generally speaking, I am not a very aggressive driver, and I had never passed anyone on a one-lane road before. But we were on a mission, and no one car was going to be the reason we would fail. I proceeded to pass car after car, with a few of these times potentially being questionable decisions. The adrenaline and the fear brought on by taking our lives into my own hands several choice words to be used throughout the drive home.
Naturally, since we were in a hurry, someone needed to go to the bathroom. It’s just one of those life things that is required to happen. So, we pulled into a random gravel parking lot of a Mexican restaurant, and Jenna and Miranda raced inside while Kelley and I impatiently waited for them to emerge. When they popped back out, they were out of breath and laughing at what happened inside. Explaining how they didn’t say a word to anyone inside, but simply darted to the back of the place to find the restroom. And naturally, it was a strange bathroom and the light switch was located outside the one-person bathroom, which presented a struggle for the two of them.
We pressed onwards, racing against time, until we were forced to slow to 35 mph behind an old, beat up pick up truck. With the road winding through a small town, we were unable to pass this truck due to the oncoming traffic. My knuckles grew white and I nervously began to rock in my seat as we crept through the town. Eyes searching for a quicker route, we decided it would be the most efficient to just stay on the road until we reached the main highway. When our turn finally appeared, the engine whined as I pushed the gas pedal to the ground.
The final few miles literally flew by and we sped off the highway, racing towards campus. With ten minutes to go, I quickly dropped off the rest of the group members and raced to change for my meeting. After all the drama and law breaking, I ended up being two minutes early. But hey, I got to experience living on the edge for a change.