Thursday, May 24, 2012

On the Road

            Recently, I’ve begun reading “On the Road” by Jack Kerouac.
            Unashamedly, I’ll admit that I only began reading it because I was impressed by the trailer recently put out for the movie. Years ago, I’d thought of reading it but looked a quick summary and decided that I probably wouldn’t like that.
After seeing the trailer, I thought I should try reading it, that I was maybe missing out on something.
Two hundred-twenty pages in, I’ve found out that I was not.
On the Sucks
In any case, it seemed ironic that while in the midst of reading that book I found myself plodding along in the sun on the side of a road, at times seriously considering thumbing a ride.
 Like this, but not as hipster-y
Sunday, I drove in to work for my regular weekend shift and reached the Wawa where Route 100 splits with South Hanover Street in North Coventry.
Normally, on Sunday, I hit a 9 a.m. mass in West Chester, sleep for about half an hour after, then get up and dressed for my 45 minute commute to Pottstown for work at noon.
Typically, on the way, I’ll stop at Wawa to grab a lunch to eat at my desk when I come in because, hey, it’s Sunday, news rarely happens on a Sunday, and I need something to look forward to while I’m sitting at my desk working on other stories.
I call this cat, News on Sunday.
            So I grabbed my lunch and got back into my car. Turning the key, I expected to immediately be greeted by Fitz and the Tantrums.
            Instead, I was greeted by silence.
            Confused, I turned the key again.
            More silence.
            Then, I hit panic mode and turned the key, like, nine more times.
            Quickly assessing the situation, I called a few people in Pottstown looking for a jump for what I surmised was a dead battery.
            Everyone was either away or not picking up.
            After calling my parents to explain the situation, I decided, mostly influenced by a terrible anger at my car, to hoof it in to the office.
            (Though, Brandie Kessler did offer a ride if I waited for her to come back from Philly for half an hour, but my pride and silent fuming did not allow that.)
            Almost immediately on my trek, I noticed a sign that informed me that Pottstown was three miles away. Smiling grimly, I re-shouldered my bag, which now contained my lunch of two pretzels, a roast beef sandwich and an apple-watermelon Vitamin Water stuffed in next to old story clippings, and began walking.
            One thing I will say about “On the Road” is that in between his nonsense, fever-dream ramblings, Kerouac portrays how tedious and boring the act of walking along a road can be.
            So he has that going for him.
            But aside from just the tedium of walking, I didn’t mind my sojourn too much.
            Sunday was a beautiful day. The sun was shining across a relatively unclouded sky and there was a pleasant breeze that always seemed to be across my back or hair.
On top of that, North Coventry along Hanover Street is actually really pretty. There’s a lot of nice, well-kept houses that compliment some open fields or patches of woods. Driving in to work, I do notice the pretty landscape, but it’s a lot easier to notice it while you’re puttering along on your feet than when you’re zooming by at 40 mph.
What is the speed limit there? This is basically what I see when I see speed limit signs going in to work.
I’d like to thank the majority of North Coventry residents and businesses who cut their grass. That was much appreciated as I tramped through in my khakis and brown shoes not necessarily made for marching to work.
I also want to thank the municipality for the surprising amount of paved sidewalks. That’s another thing you don’t notice while driving by.
As enjoyable as the walk was, it was definitely tiring. At the beginning, after seeing I had to walk three miles, I quickly calculated how fast I could get to the office. As a freshman in high school, the last time we were forced to run the mile, I’d been the fastest in my gym class at a shade below seven minutes.
“I’ll be in town in just over half an hour,” I thought.
An hour later, I was breathing in a pungent mixture of road tar and metal as I crossed the second set of railroad tracks that cross Hanover Street, still more than a block from the office.
Once inside the newsroom, I thanked God that I’m alone there for the first few hours of my Sunday shift because I was a sweating mess and basically ripped the Vitamin Water bottle in half in my haste to drink it.
A few minutes later, while quickly reading through my article from the week before, I found a tick climbing on my pant leg.
At that point, my world of Sunday journalism had me feeling as glamorous as Cary Grant in “His Girl Friday.”
            What I don't look like every day.
            In any case, everything turned out alright. My parents got a new battery for my car and saw my office for the first time.
            But what might stick with me about my walk in was the sun turning the grass on a hillside in North Coventry almost fluorescent green and how, walking across the Hanover Street Bridge, I could actually see fish swimming in the less-than-murky water.
            They were nice little vignettes in my experience here.
            And Jack Kerouac is still terrible.

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