Chapter 51. Martha

Once in 1995, I had a week where I’d be visiting two clients. On Monday, I’d fly from my home near Dallas to Detroit and spend the morning downtown. Then I’d fly to Columbia, South Carolina to spend a few days. My first day would be tight. I wouldn’t have time in Detroit to grab lunch, and I knew the regional airline that would get me to Columbia wouldn’t serve food. When I landed, there’d be a car waiting to take me to the meeting, where a group of angry men and women would be waiting for me.

My wife suggested that I take a sandwich. I could eat it in the car after my meeting, between downtown Detroit and the airport. She even asked what I wanted and made it for me: ham, cheese, mayonnaise, white bread, a Ziploc bag, and a napkin.

When I arrived in Detroit, I rented a car and drove downtown. In my client’s parking garage, I had to decide what to do with the sandwich. My choices were to put it into my briefcase, where it would get all smashed, or leave it in the car. It was a cool morning. Detroit was “way up north” compared to my home in Dallas, and my car would be in the shade the whole time. I’d be done before noon, so—I figured—it would probably still be cool when I got back to the car. So, I left the sandwich on the front seat.

When I left my meeting, it was surprisingly hot out, around 90°F. Inside the car it must have been at least 120°F. When I pulled the door handle, the door popped open on a wave of hot, compressed air that had been trapped inside ...

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