‘How bad can it be?’ invites trouble

By Grant McGee: Local columnist

My friend Robyne Beaubien heard The Lady of the House and I were heading up to Amarillo.

“Don’t take I-27,” Robyne said. “They’re repaving it and it’s a mess.” She suggested we take an alternate route.

The day came for our trip and we headed up the road. As we approached the junction with the dreaded interstate I turned to The Lady of the House and said, “Really, how bad can it be?”

“Oh,” she said. “Now you’ve done it. You’ve invoked the dreaded words. Now we’ll find out.”

Like some kind of wish for bad luck, The Lady of the House and I avoid saying, “How bad can it be?” Say that phrase or something similar and we surely will find out.

It began a couple of years ago on a trip to West Texas to the Big Bend country. On our way back to Clovis we rolled into a town along the way looking for breakfast. This wasn’t a town really, it was just a wide spot in the road.

We pulled up in front of a restaurant that had seen better days. The name of the town and restaurant are omitted here to protect the innocent, namely me.

“I don’t know,” I said, looking at the front of the restaurant. “I ate here a few years ago. It wasn’t all that good and it cost too much.”

It was then that The Lady of the House uttered the fateful words.

“How bad can you mess up breakfast?” she said.

We found out.

The waitress came shuffling out, tossed our menus on the table, turned and walked back to the kitchen. The cook stuck her head from the smoky kitchen door then pulled it back in, a look of wide-eyed surprise on her face.

We were served a delicious repast of black-bottomed pancakes, blackened toast and petrified bacon. We had a laugh as we drove away because we were amazed at how badly a breakfast could be messed up.

We promised ourselves to be careful with those words in the future.

Then there was that trip to Santa Fe this past April.

I was determined to go, The Lady of the House … not so much. Icy squalls were whipping across New Mexico coating everything with ice and snow. “How bad can it be?” I asked as I looked out the window.

“Oh, now you’ve done it,” she said.

We slipped and slid through ice and snow squalls. We made it to Vaughn and had to turn south.

And so it went with our trip to Amarillo.

Sure enough, not long after we merged with I-27 north of Canyon, traffic slowed to a crawl as trucks loaded with asphalt dumped their loads while paving equipment and crews slathered a hot, new layer on the interstate.

The Lady of the House looked out the window to keep from laughing. She passed the time by counting the number of white pickup trucks that drove off the highway through grass and ditches to get to the nearby frontage road to avoid the traffic jam.

We made another trip to Amarillo a few days ago and avoided the I-27 mess by turning at Hereford. On our trip back we found out we could’ve taken the interstate after all — the crews weren’t working that day.

Of course we knew there’d be no problems because neither one of us had said, “How bad can it be?”

Grant McGee hosts the weekday morning show on KTQM-FM in Clovis. Contact him at: