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Monday, September 17, 2012

You're In Good Hands, Unless...Part III (The Finale)

Thanks to my earlier attempt to rescue my car, my phone was dead and I had to use B’s. The “good hands people” had again become the full hands people, so my very important call got stranded for 15 minutes.  Someone far more lucid than Spicoli answered and he read my history from a call log. His rendition ended with a revisionist, “I see you canceled the tow truck.”  Only B’s hold on my arm kept me from blasting into orbit, which would have been just one more unnecessary delay.
 I righted the record.  The agent seemed to believe me and apologized for the inconvenience.  He said he'd try to get a suitable truck lined up and promised to call me back when he had it arranged. We hung up just before 4 a.m.
Moments later B and I encountered a man and a woman in the parking lot whom we assumed were a couple.  They had just parked a large white sedan right next to my car.  B worried that it might keep the tow truck from accessing my car.  As they walked out of the lot I chased them down to ask if they’d mind moving their car.  They were happy to accommodate us.  As the man moved the car, the woman informed us she was his mother.  The two of them were “just going out.”  Evidently Junior had just finished sorting out a little legal misunderstanding and they were celebrating. 
 After they left, I turned to B and asked, "Have you and your mother ever gone out together at 4 a.m., other than to the Emergency Room?" 
He got my point and we set out in search of a safer spot to hang out, like a roving production of “Waiting For Godot.”
 From the short list of candidates we chose Ben’s Chili Bowl. Ben’s stays open 22 hours a day.  Naturally, the two hour respite is from 4-6 a.m.  We knew we were on borrowed time as we ordered fries and chocolate milkshakes.  We replayed the evenings’ events as we downed them and kept and eye on B's phone, which refused to reward us with a ring.
 Half an hour went by and Ben’s  was starting to send out shut-down signals.  The staff gathered in the back for what must have been a team meeting that ended when the group chanted: "One, two, three, chili!" On my best day I can't muster up three cheers for chili so I had to admire their spirit.
 Eventually we were cast out of there, too. We still hadn’t heard from the insurance company so I decided to give up, go home and start all over the next day.  B and I got into separate cabs and parted ways.

By 5:30 a.m. I was punching numbers into the keypad on the front door of my house to get in. 
 I plugged in my dead phone and turned off the ringer.  Just before going to bed, I sent a text to my sister giving her a synopsis of the evening and letting her know the ongoing logistical circus would keep me from going to my nephew's football game that morning. 
 Sleep didn’t come quickly but once it arrived I slept hard, if briefly.  I awoke at 7:58 to a series of text messages from my sister and mother. They informed me that my mom had a spare key to my car. My parents were on their way with the key and were going to bring me to D.C. to pick up my car. This development was as confusing as it was welcome.
 I headed downstairs, started a pot of coffee, and threw open the front door for a quick temperature check.  There, at the curb, sat a car that looked suspiciously like my little blue Acura. I shut the door, thinking that sleep deprivation had caused me to hallucinate or that I had just witnessed the Miracle of Keys and Towing--not as spectacular as water and wine, but impressive enough for me to consider a return to organized religion.  
As I was mulling this over, my parents pulled into my driveway, necks craning in the direction of the curb where my car sat. My mother's face evidenced the same confusion I'd experienced on seeing it parked there. Her jaw dropped and she smiled. Dad's expression was harder to read. He wasn't exactly frowning but he certainly wasn't smiling as he got out of the driver's seat.

"What I want to know is what are you doing, going to stupid places like that?" he asked, giving my arm a teasing nudge that didn’t conceal the strong parental undercurrent moving swiftly below his light tone. 
 I tried to swim through it. "It's pretty crazy how bold this was, Dad. I parked at the brightest spot in the neighborhood.”
"I could care less about your car, Karen. It can be replaced. You can't," he said.  This was going to be like trying to surf a tsunami in a dinghy.  
His face grew stern as he prepared his closer, delivered in a voice that matched it. “You know better than that.” And he shook his head.
I felt both elated and chagrined that, at 41, I wasn’t too old to get a talking-to from my pops. "You know what, Dad?” I said, “You're right. Absolutely right."

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