We’ll Get There

Friday, November 15, 2013, Vol. 128, No. 224

IT’S NOT THE RIDE. IT’S THE DESTINATION. The guy driving this thing is from Chicago. And the way they get places in Chicago isn’t pretty.

Calling the Obamacare website wreck “a bump in the road” is like calling, well, like calling the ride I’m about to describe as bumpy.

We were in Chicago and running late. Nora was seven-plus months pregnant, roughly the size and disposition of the Bears offensive line, and running hot. We had to make it from Lake Shore Drive to O’Hare in record time. I flashed a $20 at the cab driver, gave him our time frame, and promised it as a bonus if we made it. That was when a $20 was serious money.

He launched. I thought the G force would break Nora’s water. He took the corner over a curb, sped halfway down a one-way block – the wrong way – and – stopped. He picked up two suits with briefcases and delivered them to a hotel four blocks away, and then re-launched us onto the Eisenhower Expressway.

What happened next is a blur, not because I can’t remember it, it was just a blur.

When the traffic snarled, he pulled into two lanes of construction, dodging traffic cones, piles of material, idle machines and the occasional terrified worker, to emerge on the other side of the snarl. He cut off a long curve by blowing up an exit, through the light at the top, and down the ramp on the other side and onto the shoulder to emerge ahead of the curve. You can’t imagine what that many horns sound like.

There was a lot of whimpering from the back seat. From me, not Nora.

And now comes my favorite part. Almost to the airport, five lanes became a parking lot. Undaunted, Evel Knievel turned on his emergency flasher and started making his way from the far left lane to the far right lane, perpendicular to the traffic, oblivious to the creative suggestions and commentary being shouted at him. From the cars, not us. We were silent at this point. Speechless, actually.

Reaching the far right, he kept going. Right off the road. Right onto the grass. Right down the embankment to a clearer approach road 40 feet below us.

“Holy s - - t,” I said as we pulled up to the terminal and blew the escape hatch, more as a prayer of deliverance than exclamation. Nora didn’t say anything. Not for a long time.

Point is, we got there. It was ugly and scary and seemingly impossible, but we got there. Despite the suits with briefcases and their own diversionary tactics. Despite the obstruction, roadblocks and angry traffic jams. Despite bad planning, the bad faith of critics and bad actors everywhere.

Where we’re going is too important to the health of Memphis, rich in spirit but poor in fact, too important to the millions upon millions of Americans who have nowhere else to go. We have to get there.

I’m a Memphian, and Affordable Care is both destination and destiny.

Dan Conaway is a lifelong Memphian, longtime adman and aspiring local character in a city known for them. Reach him at dan@wakesomebodyup.com.