Several years ago the bank branch at which my sister Liz worked was robbed. Whether it happens directly to you or not, having someone come into your workplace with a gun and threaten violence is traumatizing. Like many of her coworkers, Liz suffered from some post-traumatic stress after this happened. When you consider some of the things we experienced in our youth, it makes sense that something so dramatic would have an even greater impact on her than on some of her coworkers. Her doctor and her bosses agreed that Liz needed some time away from the branch to deal with the after-effects of this awful experience. Liz's husband suggested that she call both me and our friend Julie to see if we could arrange a road trip to visit Julie in Utah. Everything fell into place and we were soon on the road away from the stress and headed toward some fun.
Liz and I have had our challenges with one another in the past, but one thing we do really well is traveling together. When we start on a road trip Liz always refers to me as Navigator. A little-known fact: when there are two people traveling by automobile, the person in the passenger seat has some definite and vital responsibilities. They include making sure that the driver stays alert and awake and watching out for important things like road signs and herds of wild critters or any other photo opportunities. Lesser-known responsibilities include keeping an eye on the traffic and vocalizing insults about any reckless or otherwise annoying drivers.
Since Liz is my older sister, she seems to think that her responsibilities include not only driving, but torturing her only younger sibling. I keep hoping to get to the age at which this torture will stop, but I am beginning to fear that I can't possibly live that long. We headed out of the Denver area, went north to Wyoming, and then headed west. When evening came and we had had dinner, we started to hit some really awful weather. I mean to tell you, it was a Noah-and-his-Ark level rainstorm. It was such torrential rain, and with such poor visibility, that I started calling it a rain blizzard. The fact that we were on the road at the same time as a lot of huge freight trucks added to the lack of visibility. Talk about major backsplash!
After a while of this, we decided to stop at a place called Little America, which is famous for being a good place to stop on the road, especially if you want an ice cream cone. After we got back on the road, the rain was still quite heavy. Suddenly my nose was really unhappy. It smelled like we were driving by a sewage processing plant or maybe even two or three. I could feel my nose and forehead scrunching up in distaste. I know that sewage processing plants are vitally important, but that doesn't mean I like the way they smell. I said something to Liz about the stench and she didn't really respond. "Don't you smell that? It's awful!" Liz started giggling, and I knew that she had released some weapons-grade stench in the car. I had a moment in which I turned into a passenger-seat pooch. In spite of the rain, I had the window rolled all the way down and my head completely out of the car, while Liz enjoyed her fit of the giggles. Older siblings...
When we were with Julie, we did all sorts of fun things, including one of Liz and Julie's favorite pastimes, shopping. We were out and about one day when I noticed that one of our favorite dollar stores had a location in Julie's hometown. Surprisingly, Liz had never heard of this huge national chain, which has the same price for everything - one dollar. Actually, there are some candy products that only cost fifty-nine cents, but you get the idea. Do you need a pair of flip-flops? They're a dollar. Nail polish? Toothpaste or a toothbrush? Aluminum foil, food containers, shampoo, even some books, and tons more? A dollar each.
Julie and I told Liz that it was a fun place to shop because it's really a dollar store, everything costing a dollar or less. As we went through the store, Liz was losing her little mind. "Look at these cute baby snack containers! How much do they cost?" A dollar. "Oh, Kakee! (A nickname she uses for me. Please don't attempt to use it, because if you do I won't respond. She has the rights to that nickname.) Look at these makeup sponges! How much do they cost?" A dollar. This happened with a few more products before I said, "Liz, do you see that banner on the wall, the one that says everything's a dollar? It's there because everything costs a dollar, okay?"
We got a huge chuckle out of it, and every time I go to the local store I hear Liz asking me how much something costs. About every other trip, Trent or I will act excited about something we find in the store and ask the other one how much it costs. (You didn't know that, did you, Liz?) And when we do, we tell the story to whoever will listen. We have made many a dollar store employee laugh when we told them the story of Liz and how she became dollar dazed. But I usually leave out the part about how I had to hang my head out in the rain to survive riding in her car!