The Time Guesser

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A Perfect Science

We started playing the game years ago, in an attempt to break up the monotony of long drives. When you have kids in the back seat asking “are we there yet?” four hundred times, you get desperate. So, as we approach the final destination, we all throw out the minute we think the car will pull into the driveway. Rules state, unequivocally, that it can’t be when we see the final destination. We have to have arrived, car turned off. Not to brag, but I am a bit of a genius when it comes to correctly predicting the exact arrival time.

My family just guesses. Not me. To me, it’s a science, and a lifelong passion. In fact, I consider it an insult when someone, anyone, assumes I get lucky whenever I get it right (which is always).

There is no luck involved. I factor in all of the variables of the commute. Miles per hour, traffic lights, total weight of the vehicle. I’ve been known to go on advanced scouting trips to gauge the necessary factors. My family doesn’t know why I disappear for hours at a time. They just assume I’m at the public library or something. Preparation is the key to success so all of these factors go into a very complicated algorithm I’ve developed. I won’t bore any of you with the details because a) I want to remain the master of this important game, and b) most humans are incapable of understanding it anyway.

So, as we approached the final destination the other day, my wife and two kids threw out their arbitrary guesses. After silently mocking each one of them, I calculated the actual arrival time in my head, and came up with the answer. Three mouths began laughing in unison.

“We’ll be there long before then,” said one of the kids.

“Yeah, that’s so wrong!” said the other.

I remained stoic, and as we drove through the moments that they had incorrectly predicted, I began to see the fear in their eyes at the thought that I would again be correct. Even my wife, in the drivers seat, was concerned I would again claim victory.

She has yet to do this, but I suspect my wife has entertained the idea of purposely slowing the vehicle, or taking an alternate route, just to prove me wrong. After all, the rules of the game state that the driver shall declare 100% authority in directions to a given destination and there is nothing any of the passengers can do about it. We call it navigator discretion.

Yet, we could see the destination up ahead just as the clocked ticked to 1:30, my scientific guess. The fearful rearview mirror looks changed to resigned defeat and just as I was about to claim victory, something unexpected happened.

An annoying mailman had blocked our entry into the driveway with his stupid mail truck.

“A minor delay in victory,” I proclaimed. “There is no way he will take exactly one minute to place mail in one mailbox.”

He took exactly one minute to do so. As a result, we arrived at our destination at 1:31 and four seconds.

My wife and kids let out a mutual laugh that is far too painful for me to attempt to recreate. Instead of taking the loss like a mature adult would’ve done, I immediately began questioning my family members, accusing one of them of having called the Postal Service and arranging for this gross miscarriage of justice. No one copped to it, but I have a feeling it was my son, whose laughter was especially exaggerated.

When the stupid mailman gave an acknowledging wave, acting as if he were apologizing for the “oversight,” I shouted out of the window, “Fed-Ex rules!” It wasn’t my proudest moment.

It didn’t matter that on the return trip home, I correctly predicted the arrival time. Of course I did. It didn’t even matter that there was no annoying mailman blocking my route. Of course there wasn’t.

I had lost, my streak of perfection torn apart by a stupid mailman. A mailman. The irony that I couldn’t deliver another victory in a long line of them, because a mailman was doing his own delivering, is far too painful to bear.

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