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I ride the river road

“I ride the river road.”

That’s what I tell myself when I turn onto the last leg of my commute. I love the natural alliteration. Sometimes I wonder if I make that turn just so I can say it. “I ride the river road.”

I could go a few miles up. I could wait for the left at the water tower and jump in the rush of cars using Nine Mile Road because it’s five minutes faster.

But I don’t. I ride the river road.

I want the last 15 minutes I get before going in to work to belong to me as much as possible. So, I take the longer way; the way through the wildlife preserve, past the big farm; the way that runs alongside the Tennessee.

“I ride the river road” has become a sort of mantra for me. It’s something I can say to myself to stay patient in what is now a world full of fragile people under immense stress.

It wasn’t an automatic mantra. I found it after being enraged by words that anger me more than any: “If you pull up, we’ll bring it out to you.”

Am I wrong about the business arrangement we’ve all made with the drive-through? I was under the impression it was quicker and easier for me and the establishments I frequent. I mess up my wife’s coffee table instead of their dining room. I watch Eddie Kingston versus CM Punk on my TV instead of their news, which makes me lose my appetite almost as much as being told to “pull up.”

Traffic doesn’t bother me. Waiting rooms are nothing. Inside at the table and it takes forever? “Not your fault. Don’t worry about it.”

Inside my Silverado, comfortably listening to lo-fi beats, running 20 minutes ahead of time for work?  “I’ll not be back, back, back to Jack, Jack, Jack’s.”

The worst part of “pull up” is knowing that whichever poor sophomore they send with my fish sandwich will have to see me act like a pouty child who had to wait five more minutes to open his birthday presents. “I’m sorry, Keifer. I don’t mean to be rude. I have blood sugar issues and hate idling.”

One morning I pulled up, prepared for that awkward exchange, and thought of the rest of the trip in. I realized something. I was acting like one of those gross Nine Mile Road rush-around people.

In a hurry for no reason but to be in a hurry? Very un-river road.

Newly chilled, I watched the exhausted looking man bring my coffee and biscuit. ”Sorry about that, sir,” he said.

“It’s cool,” I said. “I ride the river road.”

Stults is a performing songwriter from Russellville. To connect with him, email wcstults@yahoo.com.