See, if I could read lips, I probably could have avoided the awkward encounter with random dude on the interstate, which in turn would have prevented the even more awkward encounter at the dry cleaners.
It was just an awkward day.
Part of the joys of working in the field is the hours I get to spend alone in the car. And I'm not really alone, anyway. I've got Jeffrey, my faithful GPS, Flourish & Blotts, my trusty Kindle (and he's not great company while driving, obviously), and of course my iPod, who – I am ashamed to say – I've just realized that I've never named. Oddly, I have a tendency to name inanimate objects*
The point is, I'm driving down the interstate when I realize random dude in the Ford F-150 next to me is trying to get my attention. I glance over to the right and this man is signaling to me. In a surge of adrenaline and fear, I gape at my dashboard, expecting to see (next to the check engine light) a flashing symbol warning me of impending doom like my engine bursting into flames or the transmission falling out while driving 80 mph.
I glance back over at the man and he's still signaling something and mouthing words I can't make out.
I grimaced my confusion.
Doesn't he realize I've never been able to read lips my entire life? It's a fatal flaw, as far as I'm concerned. Clearly, my life is at risk here and I don't know what the heck is wrong with my car (and obviously there's something wrong with it! Why else is this stranger driving neck and neck with me desperately trying to flag me down?! Why?!!)
Imagining a shredded tire trailing behind my Toyota, I attempt to adjust my side mirrors down so I can see if I'm trailing black rubber behind me. I see nothing, but then again I'm sure I would have felt a flat tire.
I hesitantly turn my head to the right again, and see this guy smiling at me. Weirdly.
I pseudo smile back, wondering what the stats were for death by serial killer while driving down the highway.
Stopping is not an option (even if the hood of my car does burst into flames).
A few miles later and the truck is still driving level with me, no matter what I set my cruise control on. I attempted to determine if creepy guy is still looking at me, but looking out of the corner of your eye is a lot easier said than done while driving, so I look over.
I guess he figured out I couldn't read lips so he resorted to charades. I've never been so hot at that game either, but comprehension started to dawn when he mimed unbuttoning a shirt and pointing towards me.
So suffice it to say I was feeling a little testy the rest of the day. After putting the pedal to the metal while mentally preparing my confession to the cop who would inevitably pull me over for driving as fast as my Corrola (Mulan) would allow to escape perverted drivers, I got through the rest of my day and ended up at the drive-through of our local dry cleaners to pick up my husband's dress shirts that I'm too lazy to iron.
I'm sitting in the car with my arm hanging out of the window, holding out my debit card to the kind elderly Asian man who runs the place. He hobbles out, opens the back door and hangs up a dozen shirts. I smile, and hold out my card.
"How much?" I ask.
"You unbutton shirt." He motions unbuttoning a shirt.
On a normal day, I might have paused and asked kindly for clarification.
Today, I roar "EXCUSE ME?!?!?!" while attempting to burn down the corner shop with my eyes which surely look terrifying.
Does this man seriously think I can't afford to pay 99 cents/shirt for dry cleaning? Do I look like the kind of girl who would exchange my dignity to save a few bucks? WHO DOES THIS MAN THINK HE IS??
The wrinkled face also look confused. He tried again
"You tell husband to unbutton shirts before drop off"
".........OH!! Of course I will tell him! I am SO sorry about that!"
I peeled out of the parking lot before I could put my foot in my mouth again and rushed home to yell at (that is to say, ask) my husband about the buttoned shirts, and to also befriend a hearing impaired person so I could practice this whole lip-reading thing.
* and might be prone to feel sorry for them, but that's besides the point