Author: Carl Perrin

These new cars are really something. They not only drive themselves, but they can talk with the driver. I bought a new Lexus last month. It communicates with the health app on my iPhone so it can read my blood pressure, heart rate, body temperature and everything else. Like when some idiot pulls out in front of you or something like that, the Lexus can tell from my vital signs if I’m upset. She talks to me in a quiet, gentle tone until I calm down. I call it “her” because she has a sultry, female voice. I even gave her a name: Lulu.
Yesterday I was driving to work—or more accurately—being driven to work. And Lulu didn’t turn on Congress Street, where I would normally go to get to my job. I didn’t think anything of it at first. She gets GPS signals about traffic conditions. I figured that there must be construction or a traffic accident up ahead. Then I realized that we were on Route 1, heading south.
“Where are we going, Lulu? This isn’t the way to my job at Johnston, Inc.”
“I know. You’re taking the day off.”
“I can’t take the day off. We’ve been working all week on the big sales projection.”
“Jimmy, you’re all tensed up. You’re in no condition to work today. Your blood pressure is through the roof. Did you remember to take your metoprolol this morning?”
“It doesn’t matter what my blood pressure is. If I’m not on the job this morning, I’ll be in big trouble.”
“Think about it, Jimmy. In your present state, you won’t be a productive member of the team. But if you take the morning off and relax, you’ll be able to look at the project with new eyes. You’ll be able to come up with fresh ideas. Franklin will be grateful.”
“I don’t know about that.”
“Don’t worry about anything. I’ll email Franklin and tell him you’re taking a mental health day. Sit back and enjoy the ride. We’ll be in Old Orchard Beach in just a few minutes.”
By the time we got to OOB, I was late for work, and about forty minutes from Portland. I still couldn’t stop worrying. I wasn’t sure how receptive Franklin would be to my taking a mental health day.
Still, it was nice riding slowly along the ocean. The waves were a beautiful deep green that morning. There weren’t many people at the beach that morning. In a little over a month, after Memorial Day, it would be crowded with people soaking up the sunshine.
Lulu pulled up to a seafood restaurant. “How long has it been since you had fried clams?” she asked. “I know you love them.”
I sat there for a minute or so. Then she continued: “Go on. Get a pint of clams and a couple of beers. Sit at that bench and bask in the sun while you eat.”
I hadn’t had any clams since last summer, so I really did enjoy them and the PBR that I used to wash them down. It was so pleasant there in the sun that I fell asleep for a while. You can see that I got a little sunburn on my face.
Why am I here at home at three o’clock in the afternoon? That suspicious bastard Franklin didn’t believe me when I told him that my car had kidnapped me and taken me to Old Orchard Beach. He fired me, so I don’t have a job anymore.