I spent a glorious, too-short visit in the greater Seattle area this weekend, hanging out with Sister most of the time, and hopping from place to place, person to person for the remaining 24 hours.
But before I tell you a story of stupidity, y’all need to understand one thing: Cheap Scot runs in my genes. When I was 19, 20 years old and working at camp for the summer, I’d purposefully pack an extra bag or two with me …to carry back to college the pounds of clothes I’d gotten at the Bargain Barn. Because you could get a pound of clothes for a buck, and but for the free bags of clothes that sit on curbs in San Francisco, I’ve yet to find a better deal. A child raised in a home where frugality reigned, we did not buy if we could not make. We coined the phrase, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle before the recycling centers of America took it as their own. This was how my little family of origin operated. I knew no other way.
So when it came to renting a car for that last Washington stretch, I patted myself on the back, raising congratulatory fists in the air when I secured a vehicle for the grand total of $16. I mean, I’m that good.
But when Sister and I showed up at the rental place, somehow all the $16 vehicles had magically disappeared off the lot, but I was offered the next best thing for a mere $40. My red-headed genes began to simmer, but dear friends are worth it, so I mumbled a grumbled yes.
“Oh, and did I mention that I’ll be dropping it off at the airport instead?” I mentioned to the man.
“Not a problem, ma’am!” Mr. Rental Place Man said cheerfully. “And there will be an additional $75 fee,” he added, still smiling.
I asked him to repeat himself. Then doing the math in my head, my Cheap Scot won: there was no way I was going to pay $115, plus tax, for a vehicle I’d originally secured for a hundred dollars less.
We parted ways.
Sister and I therefore went in search of some Liquid Thinking Courage: a Venti Toffee Nut Nonfat Latte for her, and an Americano with cream and one sugar in the raw for me. We began the trek north, finding the chosen car rental land in a little known company who wouldn’t dare charge me for a different drop-off location. But by the time said courage and a half hour wait took their toll, I was already running 45 minutes late.
Cancan and I eventually pulled into U-Village, victory dance a natural at my Parking Karma luck. Although what transpired next is a bit of a blur, I remember turning off the ignition and throwing the keys in my purse. I must have then opened my door and simultaneously pushed what I thought was the “unlock” button to grab Cancan from the back seat. Wiggling out of the car, I slammed my door shut, and hopped the two feet to my son’s door …and it was locked. I tried my door: locked. I ran around to the other side of the car: locked, locked. The trunk: locked, and it was then that reality set in: I’d locked my keys, my cell phone, my purse AND MY KID in the car.
I wished for more Liquid Thinking Courage at that moment, come whatever form it may. I stood in the middle of the parking lot, heart racing, mind jumbled. Do I leave my kid here and run to my friends? Waiting for me at the children’s area was Aaron the Firefighter, Josh the Engineer, Melanie the Nurse, and Brenda the Photographer. Surely between the four of them, they’d be able to come up with something, and my own problem solving skills could give way to the brainless mama I was quickly becoming.
So I began to run. I waddle-ran between cars, bouncing from sidewalk to sidewalk, shouting people out of my way. I AM MOTHER, HEAR ME ROAR!!! Realizing I didn’t actually know where I was going, I stopped two dads pushing a stroller down the street.
“Do you know where the kids’ play area is?” They shook their heads negatively, soon registering that I might be in need of something more than a playground. I pointed them to the car. They went to stand guard. Thank you, kind souls, thank you.
Soon, familiar faces surrounded me, along with inquiries about the whereabouts of my son – because hey, I’d be wondering that same thing, too. Within seconds, these friends I’d known for 10, 15, 20+ years comforted me, their mere presence my saving grace. Josh and Aaron went into Problem-Solving mode, making phone calls and checking doors, pressing their hands up against Cancan’s window in an effort to provide Little Bubs with reassurance. AAA was secured, its driver only two miles away.
And before we knew it, although 45 minutes had passed, this quickly happened…
And although Cancan wasn’t nearly in a smiling mood yet, we got another Proof of Victory picture with Mr. Triple A man, much to both of their chagrins.
So friends, what is the moral of our story here?
Uh, try not to lock your kid in the car for starters? Check.
Regularly remind yourself that you are smarter than an inanimate object, and should probably carry your keys on you at all times? Check.
But mostly, always, don’t be such a Cheap Scot that in your search for the Best Economy Car Ever deal you find yourself in a mad rush of a morning and lose your marbles in the meantime? Check.
Until next time,
Cara “never, ever, ever again” Meredith
What about you? Do you have a woeful tale of late that just makes you shake your head in disbelief? And how many jewels do you think Mr. Triple A Man should get in his heavenly crown?0