Interstate 70 across Kansas is long and boring. It is even more so when you are driving through at night.
Many years ago I drove that stretch east to west and back again a number of times. This was pre-cell phones and when you were alone in the middle of nowhere, you were really alone. If your car broke down, hopefully some kind not-axe-murderer stranger would come along and give you a lift to the closest telephone or gas station/tow truck.
My grandmother was a worrier. She would proclaim so often. “I’m a worrier!” she would say to remind my mom and I, as if we could ever forget.
On those trips east to west and west to east on I-70, I made sure to call my grandma each night when I stopped at a motel-before I got settled in. Even if I got in late, I had to call in.
Otherwise grandma would worry.
This call-in requirement bothered my mom to no end. It annoyed her, it vexed her, it made her frustrated. But still, she did it too.
I loved the call-in requirement. It made me feel less alone on those long, dark stretches knowing that I had a call to make and a voice to connect with at the end of the night. I liked knowing someone out there was concerned about my welfare. Usually, it was just a simple, “Hi grandma! I’m in Alma at a Motel 6. Just got in.”
“Oh, good,” she’s say sleepily in her little grandma voice.
“I was just starting to worry.”