I did something really stupid yesterday.
Barb and I had enjoyed a very fun couple of days over the New Year’s holiday in Ashland. On New Year’s Eve, we relaxed at the Waterstone Spa, then dined at Lark’s before welcoming the new year dancing at Tabu. On Thursday we shared a long hike through Lithia Park with mule deer and mallards and a handsome blue heron. (The park, unfortunately, has restrictions against dogs, even on leash, so Banjo stayed in the car.) In the evening, we grabbed dinner at Thai Pepper, an otherwise disappointing restaurant that served up a pretty good coconut chicken soup (tom kah gai). The cafe packaged up the leftover soup for us. We put the plastic bag in our hotel room’s refrigerator overnight.
The next morning, after breakfast, Barb left to return to her home in California. I spent the morning writing to meet a deadline, then packed up the room and loaded the car for the drive back to Bend with Banjo. The last thing I checked was the fridge … which is when I discovered that Barb had forgotten to take the soup she was going to have for lunch en route.
Sometime around 12:30 or 1, as I drove east down Main Street after running a couple of errands, I remembered that I had stashed the soup container-in-the-bag behind me. I reached for it to assure it was still standing straight up … and discovered that it was not in a soup container at all. Thai Pepper had thoughtfully double-packaged it in standard Chinese rice boxes. The soup had seeped out through its packaging, and I found myself holding a bag bulging with liquid, sort of like a water balloon.
The bag was slowly leaking. Onto my lap. And as the soup dripped, Banjo began to joyously lick my pants.
I frantically looked for a streetside waste receptacle to dump the bag. When I found one, I immediately turned into the parking lot of an adjacent coffee house, threw my door open and leaped out to dash to the trash can with the bag.
I had left the car in gear.
I turned around just in time to see my Kia slam into the rear bumper of a Jeep Cherokee. Banjo was unfazed. He sat in the passenger seat, smiling at me and wagging his tail.
I walked in the front door of the coffee house and loudly asked: “Is anyone here the owner of a forest-green Cherokee?” A 30-something gentleman stood up, his face slightly ashen: “Oh, damn. That’s my father-in-law’s!” Fortunately for him, the Jeep suffered only a couple of minor scratches. He thanked me for my honesty and returned to his coffee.
Unfortunately for me, my car is going to need a little body work. Even at 3 miles per hour, the thin front grill of an Optima is not made for collisions. It was sliced in half, and the hood of my car is slightly crumpled.
What have I learned from this? That chicken soup may be good for the soul, but it doesn’t forgive our lapses in attention and focus.