My alcohol consumption over the past weekend amounted to two, 12-ounce bottles of Long Trail Blackberry Wheat beer, but other people’s drinking gave me a full boozy experience, let me tell you.
The first one was scary. I’d always wondered why there are so many fatal crashes on Route 78 between Swanton and Alburgh, Vt. Now I know why.
I had a job Saturday out in Alburgh. Finishing up for the day, I started heading home on aforementioned Route 78 as the sun sank toward the western horizen. It’s a wonder I made it home alive.
That stretch of Route 78 is a relatively flat, straight route along the bottomlands of the Mississquoi River, near the point where it empties into Lake Champlain. There’s plenty of pulloffs along the road where people fish, and apparently a lot of those fishing enthusiasts drink. A lot.
Three times as I cruised along the road, I had to drive off the edge of the road as people veered uncontrollably into my lane. Plus, two people coming toward me passed slow moving vehicles and almost collided with me head on. I’m sure most of these people were drunk, the way they were driving.
In one case, I had to fully drive onto the front lawn of a house to avoid being hit. Thankfully, there were no trees, mailboxes or other debris in the way.
So a word to the wise: If you value your life, don’t drive Route 78 between Swanton and Alburgh on a Saturday evening.
My next boozy encounter, Sunday morning, was much funnier. On the way out of town for a day of mowing and brush clearing, I stopped at the busy On the Run convenience store in St. Albans to stock up on Gatorade.
As I pulled in, so did a large pickup truck. The young driver was fine. He wore a green t-shirt and gray Carhartts, and looked bright eyed and bushy tailed.
His two passengers were another story. One guy, a tall, broad-shouldered blonde guy eased his way out of the truck. It looked painful. He wore an incredible rumpled black business suit that I’m sure he slept in.
As he got out of the truck, a woman in a nearby minvan saw a person she knew, and yelled in the loudest, cheeriest, sunniest voice, “Hey Doris, How are ya!”
Our hero practically melted under the noise of this onslaught. Clearly, the last thing he needed was loud, cheery and sunny. It was funny how a friendly woman’s voice could almost kill such a big, strapping guy. He tottered, pushed his sunglasses against his eyes, and staggered into the store.
A third guy was even worse. He was also in his 20s, and wore a limp green dress shirt and sagging tan khakis. I’ve seen 95 year old men get out of a truck with more skill and grace than this guy. He had to weigh close to 200 pounds, but I swear the breeze was threatening to blow him over. The wind at the time was gusting to almost 10 mph. He, too, managed to stagger into the store.
The three men all went to the coffee bar. The first guy poured his coffee, paid, and returned to his truck. I could see him chuckling to himself over his friends’ predicament.
The other two had trouble working the coffee dispensers, but finally pulled it off. The trip back to the truck was especially painful, since the sun was out and the sunglasses were no match for their aching eyes.
Clearly, somebody was at a party last night.
I returned to my truck, popped open a Gatorade for the road and took off, incredibly happy that I’ve not been in the mood to drink ’til I drop for a long, long time.