I'm Lindsay Ferrier, a Nashville writer with a passion for family travel, exploring Tennessee, and raising kids without losing my mind in the process. This is where I share my discoveries, along with occasional deep thoughts, pop culture tangents and a sprinkling of snark. Want to get in touch? Use the CONTACT form at the top of the page.
December 7, 2021
Lindsay raced through the kitchen, eyeing the oven clock as she passed. If she left right away, she’d arrive at her son’s school just in time for the afternoon bell. Grabbing her keys and purse from the counter, she hustled through the door with a determined look on her face. Lindsay hated being late.
“Okay, people, we’ve got movement,” a woman in a headset reported from a bank of computers in a windowless room across town. “L-1 is headed to the high school. Estimated time of arrival: 15 hundred hours.” She glanced up from her computer screen at the wall of monitors in front of her, each displaying a satellite image of a different street, then made a few quick taps on her keyboard.
A man dressed in a crisp black uniform strode quickly over to the woman at the computer. “L-1 on the move, eh? he asked sharply. “Who’s available, Lieutenant?”
“Checking now, Commander Shart,” she answered. “She listened for a moment, pressing the headset up against her ear. “Sounds like Edna Knutson is just about to head to the grocery. We’ve got her on the line.”
“Tell Edna to get on the road ASAP and await further instruction at the 4-way stop,” Commander Shart barked.
“On it,” the Lieutenant responded.
“L-1 currently southbound on Dogwood Lane,” a smooth voice rang out over the PA system. “Turning onto Heywood Drive in T-minus 90 seconds.”
“Give Edna her orders, Lieutenant,” Commander Shart said.
“Mrs. Knutson, I need you to prepare to turn right onto Heywood Drive at my signal.” The Lieutenant looked back up at the screens, settling her gaze on the red dot moving down Dogwood Lane. “Okay, get ready. Annnnnd turn… now, Mrs. Knutson. Very good. No, nothing special, just drive your usual speed.”
At the same time, Lindsay turned onto Heywood Drive, humming along to Lord Huron on the stereo. Traffic was light and it looked like the drive would be smooth sailing. Suddenly, a Buick lurched out into the road ahead of her.
“What the…” Lindsay said, putting her foot on the brake. “Not again.” The Buick crawled along at a snail’s pace in front of her, a puff of white hair barely visible over the back of the driver’s seat. Lindsay sighed deeply and looked down at her speedometer. “25 miles an hour in a 40?” she moaned. “You’ve got to be kidding me, lady. Some of us have places to go!”
Back in the control room, the Lieutenant and the Commander high-fived. “Great work,” he said. “But we’re not done yet.” Commander Shart rubbed his hands together eagerly. “We got any school buses in the area?”
“I’m one step ahead of you, Commander,” the Lieutenant grinned.
Meanwhile, Lindsay fumed as she rode the brake behind Edna Knutson’s Buick. “Patience,” she counseled herself through gritted teeth. “Deep breaths.” Forcing herself to stay 20 feet back from Edna’s bumper, she coasted along for a half-mile until, finally, Edna turned into the IGA parking lot.
“Thank God,” Lindsay whispered, checking the dashboard clock. She’d lost a minute there, but she could probably make up the time when she turned onto Wilshire Avenue.
“Okay, we’ve just rerouted Grover Snoot to Wilshire Avenue. He’s agreed to run his usual drop-off route in reverse,” the Lieutenant reported. “Says he’s got a full load of kids today, sir,” she chuckled, boldly meeting Commander Shart’s eye.
“Nice work, Lieutenant,” Shart said approvingly.
“A SCHOOL BUS?!” Lindsay shrieked approximately 20 seconds later as she pulled up behind the rumbling yellow vehicle, filled with bobbing heads. “There’s never a school bus on Wilshire at this time of day.” At that moment, the bus’s lights flashed and the stop sign swung out from its side. Lindsay stared bleakly at the bus’s back window as a half dozen middle schoolers took their time collecting their backpacks, shuffling down the aisle of the bus, descending the stairs, and ambling across the street, all while talking and laughing.
“MOVE IT!” Lindsay screamed with frustration. “PEOPLE ARE WAITING!!” Of course, no one could hear her inside her car. But across town, a roomful of uniformed, headsetted workers laughed with glee as they watched a satellite image of her fists beating the steering wheel in frustration.
“Snoot’s good for another three stops before L-1 gets to Green Street,” the Lieutenant said merrily. Cheers and laughter erupted throughout the room.
“Looks like we’ve added at least four minutes to her drive time,” Commander Shart said. “Not bad. But I think we can do even better.”
“Pulling out all the stops today, are we, sir?” The Lieutenant murmured. She thought for a moment, scanning the map on her screen. “I’ve got it,” she said, brightening. “Peter, get Farmer Greggerson on the line. According to my data, he’s mowing his cow field right now… and I think he’s just about to run out of gas.”
Lindsay turned onto Green Street and hit the gas, scanning both sides of the road to make sure no police cruisers were lying in wait. She’d have to book it now to make it to the high school on time. She whizzed past a few homes set comfortably back from the road on large lots, then passed Greggerson’s cow pasture, slamming on her brakes as Farmer Greggerson careened out onto the road in front of her atop his John Deere tractor.
“THE HELL?!” Lindsay shouted. “GREGGERSON?!! ON HIS TRACTOR?! NO! NO! NO! NO!”
In the bunker, the crowd of workers that had formed at the wall of monitors roared their approval. A few even threw their headsets in the air.
“I’ve got a construction crew setting up a road block on Carraway as we speak,” the Lieutenant shouted over their cries. “Once she gets past Greggerson and around the detour, that should make her… hold on, let me double check.” She tapped away at the keyboard and stared at the screen, her eyes widening. “Wow. Eleven minutes late!”
“A new record!” Commander Shart beamed. “Lieutenant, I think today’s feat just might put you in line for a promotion.”
The lieutenant blushed. “All in a day’s work, sir,” she said demurely, sneaking a peek at him from beneath her lashes.
“Where were you, Mom?” Lindsay’s son said, throwing his backpack into the front seat floor. “You’re late again.”
“I left on time!” Lindsay answered him shrilly. “I left in PLENTY of time! But there was an old lady driving, like, 20 miles an hour! And a school bus full of kids! And a road detour! And a freaking farmer! On his tractor! I swear, I think someone’s behind this! I’m not kidding. This happens every time I try to go anywhere lately! Every single time!”
“Right, mom,” Lindsay’s son sighed. “I’m sure everyone’s out to get you. Just leave a little earlier next time, okay?”
“You make it sound so easy,” Lindsay said, turning back onto Wilshire. “But I’m telling you, something’s not right.” Just ahead, two horses pulling an Amish buggy trotted out onto the road.