Current Work, Fiction, Life, Uncategorized

The Commute

Most mornings from early September to mid-June, the same scene plays out during the school day drop-off. The commute takes a mere twenty minutes, but it is enough for a bit of drama over who controls the radio station.

At approximately 7:10am, the characters in this drama make their way from their suburban split-level to the small SUV parked out front. As the ignition is engaged, the noise from the radio is, obviously, whatever was last on when the car was parked the evening before; usually the mother’s drive home choice—NPR. The children have no interest. It is frequently the youngest, Julius, who complains first since he cannot reach the controls for himself from the backseat.

“Can you change the station?”

“I want to hear the news.”

“But the news is borinnng.”

“But important.”

Carson, the eldest, reaches from his seat to push the electronic display. 98.7 is programed onto display button number five. The morning show with Cam and Jen comes from the speakers.

“I just want to hear music,” Julius protests. Mom is not impressed either. The hosts are currently engaged in a phone prank.

“This is so fake. It’s like a daytime talk show. Jerry Springer or something,” she says.

“No. It’s people calling in to play tricks. Listen.”

“Actors.”

“Noooo. It’s always different people.”

“Actors.”

“It’s still funny.”

“It kills my brain cells. Besides, today is the senate hearing.” Mom changes the station back to NPR, the station programed into display button number one.

“What’s a hearing?” Julius asks, reaching for the gum that is kept in the middle console. He manages to take a piece but cannot get the console’s top shut back down since napkins and cords have been dislodged and now block the closing mechanism from making contact. Mom gives an annoyed growl and using one hand to make a left turn, begins to jam things back in.

“Trump’s old lawyer has to go in front of the Senate and answer questions about him, money and such.”

“Is Trump going to jail?” asks Carson.

“I doubt it. Not even Nixon went to jail.”

“Who’s Nixon? Can we change the channel now?” Comes from the back seat.

“He was president before you were born. Actually, before I was born. Alright…we can listen to music for ten minutes then we switch back.”

“What about Cam and Jen?”

“Next time. You’re getting out now anyway. Have a good day. See you after school.”

“Fine. Bye. Love you.” He leans over to give his mom a kiss on the cheek.

“Love you, too.”

As Carson closes the door and heads up to the school, Julius makes his move, jump from the back seat into the front over the middle console. He is careful to keep his shoes from touching the seats or console. Doing so could mean having to clean the interior of the car after school.

“I don’t like this song,” Julius says as he reaches for the display and precedes to go through all six electronic buttons quickly, clearly dissatisfied with what is on.

“Why don’t you just let a song finish, then see what’s on next.”

“They’re all trash.”

“But just pick one. Songs don’t last that long…you might like the next.”

“Nope. Garbage. Garbage…”

“Then switch it back to the hearing.”

“No, that’s even worse.”

“Well, by the time you find a song we’ll be at the school.”

“I wish we could connect your phone like in Aaron’s car.”

“Well, Aaron’s mom can afford a cool car. Just be glad we don’t have to take the bus.”

“I like the bus.”

“There’s no radio on the bus.”

“There is on the school bus.”

“You can’t change the station.”

“If you ask the bus driver you can.”

“Ugh. I am not going to argue with you. Just pick something. You’re making me crazy”.

“It is all garbage or commercials.” He goes quickly through the six stations twice more.

“You know if you hit that other button it gives you six more stations to choose from. Probably shouldn’t be telling you that.”

“Why?”

As if to answer the question he goes through the next six stations as fast as he can; then twice again.

“Alright you are done”, she says as she hits the CD button and her Adele disc begins to play.”

“Yuuuuck. This is the worst.”

“Tough. That’s what you get for driving me crazy.”

“Tomorrow can I take the bus?”

“Happily, now get out… we’re here. Have a good day and don’t drive your teacher crazy like you do me.”

“She thinks I’m funny”, he says proudly as he gives her a kiss, then jumps down from the car. As she pulls away from the curb she switches back to NPR.

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