Post 66 / Hour 70: The Michigan Incident

By Beth Harling

[Beth was the winner of our first flash humor contest. She also chimed in with this fun road trip tale in the third contest.


100hours-logo2“Why does that sign say Detroit 80 miles?”  My husband asked with some level of fear that we made a wrong turn somewhere, a long, long time ago.  There is nothing inherently wrong with heading toward Detroit, especially if you have a thing for soul music and losing football teams, but when your final destination is New Jersey you have to ask yourself where you went wrong.

We were newly married and had moved to the Chicago suburbs for schooling and we were headed back home for the holidays.  Before GPS I was the navigator.  With maps in hand and my thumb roughly the length of 16 miles, we were assured victory.  To get from Chicago to New Jersey you do one thing, you get on Route 80 and go east.  That’s it.  What the map doesn’t tell you is that Chicago prides itself in giving all highways two names.  290/90, 294/94, 355/53, and my favorite 94/80.  You start on Interstate Route 80, it turns into 94, then splits.  The problem is you have no idea where the split takes place.  It is pure luck as to which road you end up on.  My personal opinion is that our Illinois governors didn’t go bad until they decided to take the Interstates.  It drove them to distraction, greed, graft and making license plates.

A close review of the next exit number and its relative insignificance to where I thought we were located, confirmed our dilemma.  We were in Michigan on our way to Motown.  Panic ensued.  I just wanted to hug my mom and have Jersey pizza and now I was going to Motor City.  Thankfully, roads do head south.  We found the first road that connected us back to Route 80 and chalked the incident up to over-excitement at getting home.

But not being one to let a good story go that doesn’t involved his mistake, my hubby managed to tell every relative, friend and pizza restaurant waitress about what he fondly called the Michigan Incident.   Twenty-five years later and multiple trips back to New Jersey, we never duplicated the Michigan incident, until last year.   Heading to New Jersey, sure that we had made the right turns, my husband reads a sign “Detroit 80 miles.”  Really!

I got him a GPS for Christmas.  Recalculating . . . .

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Published on Monday, March 4, 2013

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