On Sunday, My wife and I went out to dinner with my cousin and her husband, and my parents. You see, my cousin, my wife, and my mom have been playing cards every other Wednesday for about 2 years – they play small stakes Pinochle, and they have saved the money they raised playing cards in order to take the guys out to dinner (so obviously, I encourage the continued card play).
We chose to go to a German restaurant near Willow Grove named Otto’s (obvious choice, since my parents are very German). Unfortunately, my dad volunteered to drive – he is starting to get up there in age (74), and even though he is still a more than capable driver, he is starting to slip a little. This is especially true when having to go through a toll area with EZ pass lanes. For those of you unfamiliar with EZ Pass, it is a device that is put into your car that automatically pays toll fares via an account that you create. It is a wonderful creating that totally eliminates the need to seek loose change seconds before reaching a toll, in addition to making the whole toll experience faster and easier.
However, my dad does not have an EZ pass. And, this is where the fun ensued. On our way to Otto’s, we took the blue route (Route 476). For some unknown reason, my dad took his Windstar into the left lane of the highway, even though he was barely able to get above 50 mph (one of my biggest pet peeves as a driver is when a slow car enters the passing lane for no apparent reason). My dad was once a relatively fast driver, so I’m guessing he still considers himself one, even though he should be strictly relegated to the far right lane for the sake of everyone’s sanity.
He is in this lane for a good 15-20 minutes, probably contributing considerably to the road rage epidemic in this country. But, unfortunately, that is not the end of my torment. My dad fails to see the 37 signs posted on the highway leading up to the toll area, instructing drivers without EZ pass to use the right lanes. He ends up zipping through EZ pass, and onto the Turnpike – now we have no ticket to give the toll collector at our exit. My dad, of course, does not blame himself, but instead blames PENDOT, because, apparently, 37 signs was not good enough.
We get to the exit, and now he has to explain to the toll collector his error, which now causes a traffic jam at the toll, as the lady takes a picture of his license plate, and has him fill out a sheet. Oh, one more funny thing, my dad is trying to hand her a dollar bill for the toll, and she is repeatedly asking him for his license. He is just giving her this blank glazed over smile while holding the dollar bill out. Now, I’m not sure, if he was hoping she would think he is a foreigner, and just take his dollar to move traffic along, or if he is really starting to lose touch – I’m hoping it is the former and not the latter.
Thankfully, we finally get to Otto’s, and I’m hoping to enjoy some fine German cuisine (yes, it does exist outside of Wisconsin). We get seated, and I notice a buffet – I’ve never seen a German buffet (no, a pot of Bratwurst and sauerkraut does not count as a buffet – that is an Octoberfest). My first instinct was to run – I couldn’t imagine eating dried out Wienerschnitzel (sounds like some kind of gay porn quote). However, much to my surprise, the German buffet was excellent.
Unfortunately, the food didn’t sit in my stomach very well, mainly because my dad had to drive us back home. This brings me to my final point. For years, I have suggested that separate roads be built for the elderly, complete with either cushions on the sides of the roads or those bumpers from bumper bowling. Additionally, these roads should probably have a rest stop every 1-2 miles, and complimentary Geritol included at each rest stop. Sadly, my dad probably would qualify to take these roads (if they were around).