164 - diner tame
eeding her timecard into the machine, Suzanne caught the time. 5:02, just a bit past the time she was allowed to leave her job. Few of them ever left anywhere near five, though. There was always more work to be done even after the last patient left the office. Insurance forms, record filing, and phone calls to remind tomorrow's patients of their appointments.
But today was an exception for Suzanne. The other girls in the office understood, and in this case would allow ducking out early, even if it meant that the rest of them would be working that much later. They had an unwritten rule about being able to leave on time for certain reasons, and everyone knew how much this meant to her.
"Good luck out there tonight!" Karen cheerfully offered. Suzanne nodded and smiled as she gathered up her belongings.
"I'd better hurry if I want to have any chance at all!" she replied as she stole another anxious glance at her watch. She headed through the door, and all the others said their goodbyes as she walked out. She even heard a few more shouts of support and luck. Suzanne smiled. They were such a nice bunch to work with.
She got to her car and hopped in. Throwing her purse and coat into the passenger seat, she checked her rearview mirror. The silver and black case was still there. Throughout the day she carried a fear in the back of her mind about something happening to it. Even though it was pretty safe in the back of her car in the parking garage, she wished the case was small enough to bring into the office with her.
Rush hour was upon her, she knew. The venue was not too far away, but the onramp to the freeway was hardly moving. She could do nothing now but wait and watch the minutes tick by as her car slowly inched forward.
After she passed the interchange, things cleared up a bit, and Suzanne began to feel better about her situation. She would make it on time, though her setup would be a little rushed. Not a huge deal, yesterday she had already gotten things tuned the way she wanted. A brief shakedown was all she'd need to be ready.
The parking lot was full of bustle as she pulled into it. Other entrants were unloading their own gear and meandering towards the entrance. She found a space and sat in the silence for a moment after switching her car off. Just a moment to prepare herself mentally, that was all she needed.
She extricated her case carefully from the backseat, and joined the trickle of people walking into the venue. She sized up her competitors, and couldn't help looking for anyone else like her. It was always a futile attempt. By now, she knew this was her passion, and she didn't care what others thought. Still, some validation that she wasn't crazy or alone would be nice.
The only other women around her age were accompanying their sons. Same as it ever was. Suzanne got to the gate and flashed her entrant badge. This was not her first time at the rodeo, so to speak. Some of the organizers even knew her by name, though she was not quite a star. Not yet.
She got to her designated area and plopped down the case with anxious delight. Her fingers worked the latches open quickly, and she popped the lid open.
There he was. Cross Blue, her custom-built RC car. Delicately, she pulled the beast out and placed his perfectly-bouncy rubber tires on the pavement.
Suzanne beamed with pride. Tonight was theirs.