December 23rd, 2002



Driving to Chicago, it was snowing lightly. The stuff wasn't actually sticking to the roads, though they were damp. Sis was driving. On our right, we were about to pass a slow-moving salt truck. It wasn't actually salting the road at the time, but my sister said, "Watch out for the spray!" I was about to tell her that she was being overly paranoid, when we got just behind it. The instant our windshield was within its range, it turned on for a moment and spewed salt right at us. I'm pretty sure it stopped as soon as we'd passed.

Apparently, salt trucks just have it in for my sister, and she has come to accept this as part of her burden in life.

It felt like a drug deal

It was my turn to drive, and I was sleepy. I'd had a big cup of coffee when we hit the road at 7am, and it had made my bladder painfully full. I'd picked up a Diet Mt Dew on the first bathroom-break/change-drivers stop, but I didn't want to drink too much. I didn't want to have to stop too much, and I didn't want an aching belly while I tried to wait (and my bladder is approximately the size of a peanut).

Still, I didn't feel as awake as I would have preferred. I was driving okay, talking and singing along with the radio, but I just felt like it was a bit too much of a struggle keeping a firm grip on my consciousness. I didn't feel fully in control, and it frightened me.

When we stopped for gas and another bathroom break, I started looking over the gas station's pharmacy selection. Maybe something that could keep me awake without filling up my bladder? All I found was No-Doze, which wasn't quite what I wanted. I approached the counter and asked vaguely, "Hey, do you have any of those energy pills like some places have?"

He shook his head, reached behind the counter, and pulled out a small plastic package. Three little capsules, all in a row. It caught and held my gaze, as he pushed it toward me. "You mean like this?" I couldn't remove my eyes from it, as I nodded. Stacker IIs. Yes, that was exactly what I wanted, with their combination of caffeine and ephedra.

"No, we don't sell any," he told me. I looked at him, confused, unable to quite formulate the question running through my mind (well where'd that come from?). "But I can give you these, if you want. I already took some this morning. They're great for staying awake, aren't they?"

Startled, I asked him, "You mean for free?" Smiling, he shrugged and said yes. I started justifying my need for the stuff. "It's just that I'm driving, and I can't be tired, y'know? Caffeine just isn't doing the trick." He agreed with me and pushed the little packet toward me. (The first hit's free, you know.) I took it, thanking him profusely, and went on my way.

I felt a little embarrassed about my drug deal, but I didn't have any more trouble staying awake for the rest of the drive, which was a relief.