Wherever the Road Leads

Who Moved the Cheese?

Or, being Late for Wilma

Back in the sixties,a Woodworking Shop teacher gave his class an assignment to build something they could use at home. The troublemaker in the class set to with much fervor. zeal and commotion. After a great deal of hammering and banging, he proudly showed the teacher his invention… a flat block of wood with an old Gillette, double-edged razor blade banged into the wood, and a piece of cheese lying beside the razor.

The teacher studies the pupil’s project but could make no sense of it. He asked what it was.

“It’s a mouse trap, sir,” replied the student.safety-razor-blade

Baffled, the teacher asked, “How does it work?”

“Well, a mouse comes up to the razor, sticks his neck across the blade to eat the cheese and cuts his throat.”

“Johnny, I’m afraid that won’t work,” said the teacher. “I’m afraid mice have very tough skin under their throats and the blade, sitting like that, would not penetrate their skin.”

Johnny went away to refine his project and after another ten minutes of hammering and banging, returned to the teacher with the exact same board and razor, but minus the piece of cheese.

The teacher said, “Johnny, this is the same design, except where’s the cheese?”

“That’s exactly it, sir,” replied Johnny. “The mouse comes up to the razor blade, sticks his head across the blade, says to himself, “Where’s the cheese?”, moves his head back and forth looking for it, cuts his skin on the blade and dies.”

My Little Scottish Mother arrived in Atlanta today, flying in from Toronto.

About twenty years ago there was an incident where she came to visit me by train. I was to pick her up at the Burlington GO Train station.
(“GO” being an acronym for the Government-of-Ontario-run commuter train service.)


Well, I used to live in Burlington. I used to have a wife who took the GO Train into Toronto every weekday and I would drop her off and pick her up. I could get there with my eyes closed.

However, that had been a number of years earlier. I set off for the Burlington GO Train station late, from about thirty miles away. I can’t remember what I was doing thirty miles away but, no doubt, it involved wine, women and song. To excess.

Feeling guilty at making my mother, a youthful 70 at the time, wait for the ten minutes that I was late was bad, but I was sure I could explain ten minutes. (“Explain” and “lie” are synonymous, are they not?)

I pulled into the formerly familiar Burlington GO Train station, wide-eyed and bewildered. What happened??? Who moved the cheese?? Then I vaguely remembered that a few years prior they had built a NEW Burlington GO Train station a few miles down the road.

When I got there, in an era long before cell phones, she was the only person alone on a very empty platform. I got an earful and rightly so. How does a seventy-year-old woman feel, alone and abandoned, perhaps forgotten in a strange place in the middle of nowhere, and the culprit is her own son? Back then, I had a conscience for little, but to this day I feel guilty over that stunt.

With that still in mind, I set off for Atlanta Airport, with plenty of time to spare. Or so I thought. Leaving an hour and a half before her flight arrived surely has us taking off at about the same time.

The first traffic jam I had anticipated. It took about twelve minutes to get through this bottleneck. That’s why I allowed ninety minutes to travel the sixty miles from my house to ATL. The second bottleneck I did not anticipate. Too late to exit, I saw the traffic sign that indicated a wreck that had the two left lanes closed about five miles down the expressway. Suddenly, flashbacks of a GO Train Station.


They say that as long as there are exams, the Democrats will never eliminate prayer in schools. And believe me, there was some serious praying going on in my truck, stuck in stop-and-go traffic on I-85 southbound Tuesday morning.

I guess it’s true, the Lord looks after the widows and children, and a son who apparently did not allow enough driving time to pick up his widowed mother. Before too long, the brake lights lessened and the traffic slowly started to pick up. Soon, we were doing the traditional seventy miles per hour on the fifty-five miles per hour highway.

Speed limit signs in Atlanta are put up for tourists. I-285, which circles the city and is referred to by truckers as “The Watermelon 500”, has a posted speed limit of 55. Sixty-five to seventy is the norm. If someone is actually traveling at 55, guaranteed they have out-of-state tags. People in Atlanta change a tire at 55.

Without further incident, I managed to arrive at the airport, park and enter the terminal at exactly the time her plane was due to land: 11:02. Between the extra cup of coffee and the tension, I had but one mission in mind… I was bursting. I exited the men’s room and then figuring I still had a minute or two before the plane unloaded and she was brought into the Arrivals area, I thought that I had time for a quick text message.

Now, my mother thinks that smartphones are the bane of civilization. Teenagers text at the dinner table and adults send emails; she feels verbal communication is lost and rudeness has won.

Texting, I vaguely hear someone calling, “Excuse me, sir, excuse me, sir…”. I looked up and am surprised to see a uniformed woman at the Airport Information kiosk waving at me. After she has my attention, she points at this little Scottish woman who has just arrived on a flight from Toronto and is waiting for her son to come collect her. With a disgusted expression on her face.


Atlanta’s new International Terminal

Ooops. Caught. Late and texting.

However, she had been there for only a minute or two and it wasn’t long before my transgressions were no longer spoken of.

Welcome to Atlanta, Mom!!

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