Green Bay and Grey Goose

For those that aren’t aware, my wife and I had the opportunity this past
weekend of attending a Green Bay Packers game at Lambeau Field (Wisconsin),
thanks to my brother. Five of us made the trip, including my father
and my brother’s girlfriend. All in all, it was a lot of fun–especially
with a rowdy 38-7 beatdown handed to the Raiders by the guys in green.

Gametime was about 17 degrees, and suffice it to say that things were a
little on the chilly side. But of course we prepared well, and my wife and I
looked like Mr. and Mrs. Penguin for a few hours (or Dr. and Mr. Penguin,
if you care for that sort of thing). We saw bratwurst, shirtless men,
countless beers, the legendary Brett Favre, a couple of off-field black
people, parking lots full of snow, restaurant workers all wearing Green Bay
uniforms, and best of all the confirmation that my Dad has finally
perfected all of his corny Dad jokes. I’m so proud of him.

My father drove to Green Bay from Wisconsin in his Chevy Silverado, so for
cost/fun purposes we all decided to meet in Chicago and ride together from
there. This seemed like a good idea until winter weather set in, but
miraculously the weather held off on both ends of the trip. We definitely
had the good fortune of having a clear path both ways.

Until the goose happened.

Forty-five minutes into our return trip from Green Bay to Chicago, with
flights that afternoon, we were cruising along in my dad’s truck when an
enormous goose came out of nowhere and violently smashed into the
windshield. One moment all is well, and the next you have a three-inch
concave dent in your windshield, thousands of small cracks spiraling out
from it, and shards of glass everywhere in the front seat of the car.
Looking behind us, I could see various feathers blowing up and down the
interstate, with more still stuck in the cracks of the windshield. Not a
good thing.

We pulled off the road, of course, and the car in front of us did as well.
The truck was perfectly drivable but nothing could be done about the vision
aspect of it. Mostly we just tried to shake it off, drowning out the
lingering echoes of my wife’s blood-curdling scream. When we walked up to the
car ahead (that had stopped to check on us), they asked if we needed a witness, and he
just held up some feathers. That took care of that. Then the knowledge
set in that we were out in the middle of nowhere, about six miles from the
thriving metropolis of Manitowoc, Wisconsin. And that is when the cell
phone calls started.

Using all of the collective charm in the truck and the portable GPS I
fortunately brought along, we got into town only to find that Manitowoc had
no one that could repair the damage. Meanwhile, my poor father is driving
around while sitting at a very crooked angle, trying his best to see
underneath the bottom portion of the windshield that wasn’t completely
smashed. To make a long story short, the best we could find was a shop in
Sheboygan, no less than 27 miles away. And so we drove it as best we
could, knowing all the while that our flights would take off without us.

Of course, we joked about it. My brother kept the feathers as a souvenir for
over an hour until letting them loose in a Starbucks later that afternoon.
We teased my wife about the scream. We blamed my father for special-ordering
his sausage and cheese biscuit at Hardee’s, delaying us just enough to put
us in the path of the goose 45 minutes later. We took pictures and waited
for the actual windshield to cave in on itself with the force of the wind
blowing against it. But it never did.

In Sheboygan, the repair would take nearly three hours, which would leave
us no chance for our flight. So I came up with the idea of renting a car.
We called several rental car companies before finding that Avis had a tiny
agency about two miles away. And thankfully, small-town hospitality
finally came into play…the guy from Avis drove over to pick us up and
rented us a car one-way for only $93 (this was over about 180 miles to
Chicago). And so we took the car and drove off toward the airport, leaving
my father with his poor, injured truck, still picking tiny shards of glass
off of his jacket.

In the end, we made our flight by only ten minutes, thanks to my brother
agreeing to drop off the rental for us (their flight was later). We ended
up exactly where we would have been if nothing had happened, but did we
ever take a crazy route to get there.

Unfortunately, I can’t say the same for the goose.