Tuesday, September 22, 2009

The Key To Embarrasment

For the past six years, Steve has driven a 1993 blue Cadillac, which we purchased from his parents when Sarah was first diagnosed with cancer and we were desperate for cheap transportation. (Sarah had always jokingly called it “the old people’s car.”)

When the car finally broke down a few months ago and could no longer be repaired, Steve bought a 2001 Oldsmobile. Sarah had never heard of that make of car and so when Steve told her what he had bought, she thought it incredibly hilarious that her dad had gone from an “old people’s car” to an “Olds” mobile! (I'm glad our daughter is so easily entertained.)

Last Thursday when I was bringing Sarah home from Victory Junction Camp, I was driving Steve’s “Olds” mobile because it gets better mileage than my mini van. As Sarah and I stopped at the gas pump, I suddenly realized that since I hardly ever drove Steve’s car, I didn’t know how to open the cover on his gas tank.

There was a lady waiting behind me (it was one of those cheap gas stations where people wait in long lines), so I was feeling kind of frazzled and stressed, trying to get the tank open and get my gas pumped in a hurry.

As I glanced in her direction, I saw her looking at her watch and giving off all sorts of “impatient vibes." After making several fruitless attempts to open the little gas lid, I finally got back into the car, grabbed my cell phone, and called Steve to ask him what to do.

I’m sure the lady was wondering what my problem was. First of all, I couldn’t even open my own gas tank, and then, for no obvious reason, I stopped even trying and started chatting on my cell phone.

After Steve informed me about the little “magic button” I had to push inside the car, I pumped the gas, and hurried to get everything put away so that I could get out of Miss Impatient’s way. Everything was going along just swimmingly until I sat back down in the car and realized that I had no keys.They had disappeared. Completely.

Now you may be asking how anyone could pull into a gas station with their keys in plain sight, only to discover five minutes later that they are gone.

After a cursory glance around the inside of the car and around the gas pump area, I decided I was going to have to make a little speech to the lady-in-waiting and tell her that I could not move my car out of her way because I could not (and here comes the embarrassing part) seem to locate my keys. There was an almost comical look of incredulity on her face when I told her my news.

She rolled her eyes, backed her car out, and got in line at another pump.

Fine. She was taken care of. I, on the other hand, had a minor crisis in front of me. I had no keys.

I continued my not-yet-frantic search for them, thinking that they must have fallen behind the seat, or had been put back in my purse. Nothing.

Then I glanced up and saw that a second car had pulled in behind me. I sighed, walked back and made the motion of rolling down the window so that I could inform the young lady about my situation. Then it occurred to me that she was probably so young that she had never rolled down a window in her life and therefore would have no idea what I was talking about.

Well, I got so completely befuddled about the fact that I didn’t know the current method for asking someone to open their window that I just stood dumbly outside her car in a little puddle of misery until she finally took pity on me and opened her window a crack. I repeated my little speech about having lost my keys and watched as she too, backed up and joined another line.

Returning to my car I asked Sarah, who was watching the whole thing with wide eyes, if she would get out and look underneath the car. (She bends a whole lot easier than I do. When I try to look under a car, I tend to stick my unsmall rear straight up into the air which is not an inspiring sight for anyone.) She got out and started rummaging around, looking everywhere she could think of.

No keys.

It was about 98 degrees outside and I was quickly discovering that the deodorant I was wearing was not doing what it was touted to do. I could feel the sweat forming under my arms, and the heat rising in my cheeks and to make the whole situation all the more scintillating, I looked up and saw that another car pull up behind us, except this car was driven by a man.

I thought, “Oh great. This will make his whole day. He is about to be told by a ditsy woman that she has just driven up to a gas pump to fill her car with gas and in the process, has somehow managed to lose her keys."

I trudged miserably back to his car, arm pits glistening (Southern women don’t sweat—we glisten) and stood silently beside his window, once more scrolling through my mental litany.

“Do I make the ‘roll down your window gesture?' Is he old enough to know what means? Do I smile? Do I wave? Do I really want to make this speech all over again?”

After a few moments of awkward silence, he finally opened his window to see what this strange woman might have to impart to him. I repeated my speech word for word, saw the look in his eyes that immediately labeled me A Scatterbrained Woman and watched as he pulled out and got in another line.

By this time I was positive that I was losing my sanity. I mean, I am forty-six years old and my memory is not what it used to be, but surely I would have remembered if some criminal type had walked up to me and stolen the keys right out of my hand. I even walked over to the garbage can and looked in there to see whether or not some wild moment of pre-menopausal brain spasming had caused me to absentmindedly toss them in there.

No keys.

I got back in the car and attempted to gather my wits. Alas. They were not to be gathered.

I was about to start looking in all the places I had already searched when I noticed in my rear view mirror that yet another vehicle had pulled in behind me. Driven by another man.


I pulled my harried self together and trudged forlornly back to his car. Thankfully, I was spared the whole “make the rolling down the window motion” conundrum because his window was, happily, already open. I forced myself to don a nonchalant smile as I repeated The Key Speech.

“I pulled in here to get gas. When I got back in the car, I couldn’t find my keys. I’m still looking for them.”

It sounded so ridiculous to say it, even to my ears. I could see in his eyes the same thing the other guy was thinking. “What a wacky, absent minded woman! How could someone lose their keys in the four minutes that they are pumping gas?”

I offered one last wavery, watery smile and stepped away from his car waiting for him to back up and get in line somewhere else. This particular fella, however, turned off the engine and settled back to wait. And watch.

I thought, “Oh great. Now I not only can’t find my keys but I'm also going to have an audience watch me not be able to find them.”

So for the third (or was it the hundredth time?) I went through the same routine.

Bent over (flaunting the aforementioned rear), and looked under the car.

Looked all around the gas pumps.

Looked in the garbage can.

Looked in my pockets.

Looked in my purse.

Looked behind the seat.

I stole a glance at the guy behind me. He had his chin propped in his hands, viewing the whole sorry scenario like he was watching an interesting TV show. And I was it. I was his Reality TV show! I was the sole source of this guy’s entertainment for the foreseeable future.

I continued to search. I continued to sweat, er, glisten.

Just as I was pondering whether or not I should look for a couple guys to help me push the car out of the way, a man and woman pulled up on a motorcycle on the other side of the pumps. While the man started pumping gas, the woman slowly became aware of my frenetic circling, mumbling, and sweating.

When I caught her puzzled look in my direction I said feebly, “I lost my keys.”

And that was all it took. Immediately, I knew I had a comrade who was on my side. There was no “This is a scatterbrained woman” look in her eyes; she was sympathetic and better yet, she was willing to help me look.

While Mr. Van Man continued to happily observe the entertainment unfolding before him, I watched the lady begin her own search. You want to know the first place she checked for the missing keys? In the garbage can. I just wanted to hug her. She understood completely the fact that the female brain sometimes compels us to do things that are completely illogical. I had found a kindred spirit!

Not finding anything in the garbage, she circled around the far side of the pumps, and approached my car from the front. Then she stopped. And she smiled. And she said, “There they are.”

And there they were, indeed.

The keys were hanging in the outside lock of my car door. I had unlocked the car to get my cell phone and since I hadn't closed the door again, I never noticed them.

I smiled. I laughed. I almost cried. And then I said to my new best friend, “I’m so thankful it was a woman who discovered the keys and not a man.”

She understood that sentiment completely. She gave me a conspiratorial wink and a smile and without another word, got back on the motorcycle with her fella and roared away.

I pulled the keys out of the door, held them up to the guy behind me and yelled, “I found them!”

He straightened in his seat, beamed at me, and burst into wild applause, like his team had just made the winning touch down.

I was so very glad to be of service.

Right about that time, I happened to turn around and unhappily discover that a few feet across the parking lot, there were two guys sitting at a picnic table. Unbeknownst to me, they had been keeping a close and interested eye on me as The Key Proceedings unfolded.

I felt my red face become all the more rosy as I imagined them telling the guys back at work, “You’ll never believe this woman we saw at the gas station. She was pumping gas and somehow lost her keys. She even looked in the GARBAGE can for them! And then they were in her door all the time!”

It later occurred to me that the keys were visible from their vantage point; they’d probably known they were there all along!

Sigh. Again.

In my defense (and I must redeem my reputation), for four years I have driven a vehicle opened with a little clicker so it never even occurred to me look for the keys in the door.

And who knows? If my new best friend on the motorcycle hadn't shown up, I might still be there. I might still be mumbling and glistening and circling and searching and providing rare entertainment for all the guys in the vicinity whose opinion that women are all scatterbrained was being confirmed right before their eyes.

And that's what I did on my summer vacation!


And now, onto some Caleb News which Debbie emailed to me last night.

Becky, thanks so much for your prayers and concern for Caleb and us this past week end. It's such a blessing and comfort to have a supportive family. Caleb's home today and feeling pretty perky. He still gets headaches and probably will for a while. Hopefully he can go back to school this week.

It does appear that the reason he fell in the first place is that he passed out. But the doctors checked his heart and any other possible contributers and everything seemed fine. But it still concerns me. We'll just watch him closely and, and if I had my way, wrap him up in a few layers of blankets and duct tape!

Please thank your blog readers for us. Their expressions of concern meant so much. And tell them to have their kids wear their bike helmets. Or the blanket/tape thing might be an option too.

Love, Deb

And thirdly, as to the question about dieting and exercising together, I have reserved a place for that conversation over at the Backyard Discussion Forum which can be found in the right column. I figured it would be fun to give it a try for a few weeks and see who might be interested in participating.

There have been a few great responses show up there but nothing has been added in the last few days. If you're interested in being part of that forum/support group, please head on over.


Finally, we haven't heard anything back from the people who were sort of, kind of, quasi interested in our house. That doesn't mean that they won't ever be back in touch, but we'd sure like to hear something sooner rather than later.

We're currently in the process of figuring out where we're going to live in Manteo if our house doesn't sell for a while. Most of the apartments in Manteo (even the very small ones) have monthly rental fees that are more than our current mortgage! So that's going to make life just a wee bit interesting as we transition.


I'll close with some pictures from the Miscelleneous Photo Department.

Here's Steve, displaying yet another one of his talents, which is being able to fix a whole lot of things on a whole lot of cars.

It's a good thing he doesn't mind getting dirty! I think it's about time for a Tide Commerical.

That's it for now; thanks for stopping by!

11 Had Something To Say (Just click here!):

bearie1 said...

I had a similar experience when I was driving a rental car. Pulled into a gas station in Tennessee and couldn't for the life of me figure out how to get the gas cap off. Fortunately a kind man helped me. It was pretty embarrassing having to ask though.

And, shame on those people who were laughing at you instead of helping.

Glad Calab is doing better. Sorry, I have to ask. Was he wearing a helmet? Elaine

Deb said...

No, Elaine, I am ashamed to say that Caleb was not wearing a bike helmet, even though we had one for him in the garage. When he was little, we always made sure he wore a helmet and then as he grew older made the mistake of slacking off on that.

We have thoroughly learned our lesson. Every medical professional we came in contact with over the last few days--and there were quite a few--asked if he was wearing a helmet. They didn't need to say anything else--point made.

Thank you Beck, for posting our thanks. Enjoyed the key story again!


MaryH said...

Becky, I have been out of the office since last Thursday. I was in charge of a rather large festival in Kirkwood. Actually, I was only in charge of the Arts & Crafts but that encompassed 188 booths - it was a success and the weather was beautiful on Saturday and good enough to entice people to come on Sunday - so all is good. I thought of you because there is a HUGE book sale of used books - you would have spent the weekend in just that section, I'm sure.

I am so grateful that Caleb is better and I hope they can find a cause for the fainting - that would make his mother's heart a little lighter.

I am glad that all went well in your recent travels and I hope the people return with an offer for your house.

I will keep you in many, many thoughts this weekend - I am very excited for you - I am sure you are at the beginning of a wonderful chapter in your lives.

I haven't gotten much further than that in catching up on updates - However, I do love the pictures of that fluffy white dog - you are right, how can you not smile at him and his leash holder (especially when she is trying to control the beast!)

I was off from work yesterday to recuperate from the big weeekend and I did visit my friend Patti - she is looking good - she is comfortable - but a lot less energy and tires so easily. We had a good conversation, a nice simple lunch and many smiles and memories. Thanks for sending her wishes.

Now, to return to your updates - I am glad I am back so I can read them.

bearie1 said...

Deb, I think many of us have done this. In our city it is mandatory that kids wear helmets. In some parts of the state that applies to adults also. And I only asked as sometimes kids don't wear their helmets properly which leaves their foreheads vulnerable. I'm glad Calab's injuries weren't more serious. I think all of us can learn from your misfortune and make sure our children and ourselves strap on the helmet, even if we do have to endure helmet hair. And, hope they can figure out what caused the passing out in the first place. That is worrisome. Elaine

Pam D said...

Deb, one of the boys in my son's first grade class (they are in fourth grade now) fell off his bike (no helmet; he was in the driveway and thought he didn't need it) and sustained a head injury that required life-flighting to the nearest children's hospital. Coma, vent, prayers... fast forward to now, and he is doing fine. I will be more than happy to put you in touch with his mom and grandmom if you want feedback from folks who have walked your same path; they may be able to shed some light along the way.
And Becky, I just KNEW that you were going to say that they were in the ignition, cause that would be something that I would do. But I never even thought of the door, because, like you, I NEVER use my keys in the door anymore. You are excused, dear one. I completely understand. Thanks for the laugh!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the laugh!
Glad Caleb is healing.
Was wondering..........how are those girls you mentioned while you were in Florida whose mom died? Think of them sooo much, so sad!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the laugh!
Glad Caleb is healing.
Was wondering..........how are those girls you mentioned while you were in Florida whose mom died? Think of them sooo much, so sad!

Anonymous said...

Becky, Thanks for the key adventure re-run. It is just as wonderful now as then--I can relate. Once, I actually drove off with the nozzle still in the car gas tank. I think I was upset that I HAD to use a credit card and didn't have one (this was a long time ago).

Your weekend sounds action packed. I'll bet the congregation is excited to meet the Smiths. What a blessed time it will be for all.

As far as finding a house, do you think Manteo realtors have ever done a lease-purchase option where you rent the house you want to buy until your current house sells. Often this is a win-win situation and you will only have to move once. Judy

Anonymous said...

Becky, I couldn't find the gas release on hubby's car last fall. I did just what you did and finally looked up in the owner's manual. Forgot that we discussed that the floor mat would cover it. It was the first time I had needed to put gas in since it was HIS new car. One man came over and asked after I had the book out and we had a good laugh at my expense.

Deb, thanks for sharing your story. I think we all are guilty of thinking our kids are safe if they aren't near fast moving cars. But something as simple as tipping over in the driveway can be just as dangerous. In a concrete and head connection, the head loses. Breaks my heart to see all the kids in the neighborhood riding without helmets. My hubby wiped out while in a bike race, skinned his knee which still isn't healed, hit his shoulder and his head hard enough that it cracked the helmet. He's always been a helmet wearer but is now much more verbal about sharing that with others. Praying for complete healing for Calab.

Connie F-G

Jess said...

Hi Becky and Debbie,
When I was a sophomore in college, I too fainted while riding my bike. I was lucky to escape with just a lacerated elbow and some bruises.

The fall itself, though, was the start of a bit of a mystery. I was athletic and healthy and had never fainted before that, but after that, I fainted several more times. Eventually, I was diagnosed with an arrhythmia. I didn't have any of the usual symptoms -- especially, I never felt my heart beat fast or had palpitations -- so the doctors went through many, many tests before finding the actual cause.

Since an arrhythmia is an intermittent condition, we first "identified" it when I wore a Holter monitor for a week. It took a minor invasive procedure called an "ep study" or electrophysiology study to confirm the arrhythmia, and in my case, the irregular heartbeat induced during the study was severe enough that the doctors corrected it, using radio frequency ablation, immediately. That was over 10 years ago and I haven't had a single problem since! It was a scary time but in the end, an effective and easy solution.

I mention this just in case it helps you as you investigate why Caleb fainted. My experience was that for an otherwise asymptomatic young person, cardiac problems were not the starting problem for my doctors! They focused on neurological causes for a long time, simply because there was nothing to suggest arrhythmia.

Good luck to you and Caleb!


Anonymous said...


This is the first time I've commented on any of your blogs, even though I've read them all. Your "Key to Embarrasment" story was the first I ever read on Sarah's blog. I laughed as hard reading it today as I did upon reading the original post. I first came to know about your family through Erin's website and have followed your story ever since. I even visited your archives and read the ENTIRE story -- it took several days and was well worth my time. I was particularly interested in your family as I grew up in Wilson County and have many, many relatives in the Smithfield area. I have found your story to be such a blessing and look forward to your posts regularly. It is good to see the positive ways God works in your life and in the lives of your family and friends. Thanks for sharing your days with us.