I'd be lying to you if I told you that we Laugisch's have a great sense of direction. Alas, Poor Yorick...we did not inherit the "know where the hell your going" gene from the old man. Dad could drive anywhere and for that matter, drive anything without the assistance of a map. He was just that good. He and Mom showed up the weekend of my wedding...driving all the way from North Carolina to Claudia's house in Lawton, OK, without directions. Granted, it wasn't that difficult to drive I-40 for 2 days til you heard cannon fire, but we only gave him a street and house number and he found it without calling us. Yeah, dad could navigate in a hurricane and not lose his bearings.
His kids...not so good when it comes to finding our way on America's roads. If I had to rank in order, from the most able pathfinder to the one most likely to get lost in their driveway, it would be : Me, Fred, Laurie and Hank. Naturally, I will not admit to being the worst but I have had my moments as you shall soon find out. This past weekend Brother Hank, myself, his daughter Paige, son Henry and last but not least, my other nephew Tyler, all headed up to Ohio to extricate Brother Fred from his failed attempt of establishing a Laugisch enclave there. Ironically, it only seems that we get "ass backward" lost when we're driving to Ohio and it would sadly be the case on this trip also. It was just last August where a similar expedition took place in which we were hauling his belongings up there and where I'll begin my latest tale of woe.
Fred was moving to Wilmington, OH. Anybody want to guess what kind of country we're talking here? If you said Corn, then your close, but if you said Amish Corn Country...ding...ding...we have a winner!! Please, don't get me wrong, it wasn't as if we were Custer's Seventh Cavalry riding into Little Big Horn...oh no, this was a beautiful area, and it is definitely not a slight on the hard working Amish folk...but when your towing a loaded U-haul trailer at 1:00 am and your gas light comes on because your an idiot...then it becomes a surreal forboding landscape. I will confess that I was the driver in question and I have a tendency to drive with my wrist/palm over the steering wheel which will block my view of the gas gauge. Why is this such a problem? It being Amish Country shouldn't have been all that big of a deal...but it appears the Amish folk of South Central Ohio like to close up shop when the sun goes down. In the back of your mind you know this about the Amish, but I tend to tune out information that actually might be useful when I get stupid.
I know most of you out there are saying, "What a dumbshit...just keep driving until you reach an open gas station, Mr. Environmental Engineer!" This is where it gets a little tricky. We were using a Garmin GPS Navigational Device and as some of you might know, they have the capability to locate the nearest gas station. It basically gave us two options: Stay on the known four lane highway and hit the station thirty miles down the road or take the lesser known route fifteen short miles away. I'm not joking when I say this...seriously, we were on a 4 lane highway and we were thirty miles away from a gas station. To add to our problems, I really didn't know how long that damn gas light had been on and I've heard mechanics say you have about 2 or 3 gallons remaining once it illuminates. Remember, we were also towing a loaded trailer. Being the leader I was, I took command and chose the short route to the nearest Hamlet.
After all, it's not like the gas station was in the middle of a corn field; it was clearly marked as a town. So we arrive at the first gas station and if you've been paying attention you might have guessed that it was closed. It was then that Carmin...she's the voice of the Garmin (You like how we did that? Carmin from the Garmin...yeah, we are a creative lot for a bunch of lost souls) tells us the next gas station was 12 more miles away. You don't have to be a rocket scientist to figure this one out: drive back 15 miles to the 4 lane highway with the fuel light on and chance that we can make it the thirty miles to a known gas station that is open or listen to this broad yapping to us from the GPS. I nervously decide to continue our scenic ride through Amish Corn Country.
We were meandering our way through the town center when Hank says, "Why don't you ask that guy at the ATM where an open gas station is?" Yes, there was an individual who appeared to have no vehicle standing at an ATM trying to retrieve money from it. I drive over to him and it was evident that we startled him. I said, "Excuse me sir, we're looking for the nearest open gas station...can you point us in the right direction?" He looks at me strangely and scratches his beard...I'm assuming he was Amish but he was a very creepy looking dude...he says, "Why don't you just give me a ride to my house and I'll fill you up?" How many movie scenarios do you think were running through my mind of three innocent bystanders being lured to an abandoned farm house and then getting hacked into little pieces by some strange Amish guy? Besides, how wierd was is it that we find a guy at an ATM with no obvious transportation who has his own gas pump at home? It seems he didn't think it was all that good of an idea either once he realized there were three of us in the truck, or that he didn't feel his axe blade was sharp enough this particular evening. Anyways, he quickly adds, and points to the road "Nah, lets not do that...here's what you do... head two miles out of town and turn left on the first dirt road and take that for about ten miles til you run into the next town...I'm pretty sure that station will be open." I don't know about you, but when I'm traveling somewhere...and I'm lost and looking for a gas station in the middle of the night...directions that lead me down a ten mile dirt road is something I don't want to hear!
As strange as it appeared, and it damn sure was strange, Carmin confirmed this guy's directions. We get on this dirt road and it is nothing but corn fields as far as the eye can see. My brother Hank has proven over the years to be a guy who could handle pressure; we were in the Army together and I genuinely knew he would be the last person to just lose his cool. It struck me odd, when out of the blue he remarks, "This is not good man...it's right out of the movie, 'Children of Corn.' Remember that scene where all those freakish kids run out of the corn field and attack that car? That guy gave us directions to mislead us and now he's calling all his buddies and they will be waiting for us some where on this damn road!!" The thought had crossed my mind to, but I definitely wasn't going share my suspicions like he had and make a very tense situation that more unbearable.
So, there we were, driving down this endless dirt road awaiting the moment when Malachai and his band of "circus freak" kids jump out of the corn and descend upon the Laugisch men like locusts. That was the most harrowing ten miles I've ever driven. It was a winding, twisting road which forced us to only drive at 25 mph and any time the wind blew the corn...we got real nervous. Finally we see the sky over the horizon lighten up and we knew we had to be close. Once we saw the "Chevron" sign we all blew a sigh of relief. I patted the dash of the "Red Dragon" and quietly said, "Thank you girl...you'll get an extra gas treatment for not getting us killed." Everything else after this little incident was rather anti-climatic...we got gas, bid adieu to the fearful corn and let Carmin guide us the rest of the way to Wilmington.
This last trip, albeit not on the level of intrepidation as our frightful adventure through Amish Corn, made us decide that...Fred is on his own for his next move and there is no way I can look at another ear of corn and not think of that stupid movie...thanks for nothing Stephen King.