The temperature was in the upper 70’s. Clear blue skies, barely speckled with cottony white, led the way as I listened to the hum, hum, hum of my tires running down the highway. My mother-in-law (JW) and I were on our way to the mall.
“We’ll need to get some gas before we finally head home,” I stated realizing we were close to the red zone.
We had just spent a couple of hours at the Salvation Army store rummaging through other people’s cast-offs, finding our treasures. Each of us had stumbled upon an armful of winter fleeces and hoodies. Fridays are the best day to shop there – it is five for $5. Each garment is tagged with a specific color, and then on Fridays Salvation Army decides what color is the “special”. Today it was pink tags and as luck would have it, I did indeed find five pink tag items, making them each only a dollar. I think the best discovery,though, was an old child’s school desk for The Tortoise – her dream is to one day become a kindergarten teacher. Playing school happens as often as getting up in the morning.
Our next stop was the mall for lunch and a little more shopping for clothes that had not been pre-worn. (Hopefully.) We had been talking non-stop since we left Salvation Army and hadn’t noticed any signs indicating upcoming construction routes, but as we approached our exit I realized that there wasn’t an exit any longer. The road was gone, obnoxious orange and white road blocks barricaded what used to be the entrance to the street that I needed.
“I’ll just get off on the next exit and work my way back,” I thought.
Unfortunately, the exit to this mall is the beginning of the mecca of all highway intersections. There were three highway choices confusing me – which one do I take? My heart started to race but I continued listening to JW, as not to let on to the impending problem. There really wasn’t a “next exit” and I had no idea how to work my way back. The mall is not in my town so I’m also not very experienced driving on any roads other than the ones leading to my desired destination.
Just then the red light of my gas gauge caught my attention as my eyes narrowed on the words “Low Fuel”.
“What damn highway and what exit do I take!?” I thought, starting to panic.
“Are we almost there?” asked JW. “I could really use a bathroom.”
Holy crap. Not only were we going to run out of gas, but I was going to have to ask my mother-in-law to pee on the side of the road.
“Um – yeah – about that…we’re kind of lost.”
“Well…it wouldn’t be the first time.”
“Very funny mom!” I half-joked. “I’ll figure it out.”
I quickly made a decision to just pick a route, get off on the first exit I saw and find a gas station. Our conversation had come to a lull. I’m sure JW was trying to concentrate on any thing that didn’t sound like running water while I scanned the highway for signs of fuel. We exited as soon as we could. When I crossed a bridge over the highway we saw a sign for Mobil Gas. My hands relaxed a little on the steering wheel, because obviously having a stronger grip on the wheel was going to slow down the amount of fuel we were burning through.
I thankfully coasted in to the gas station and struggled for a moment to remember which side the gas tank was situated. We’ve only had this car a couple of months and I’m still learning all of the bells and whistles. JW immediately hopped out of the car while I started to pump gas. My brain was working over time trying to picture exactly where we might be in relation to the mall. The street names sounded vaguely familiar, but still nothing was ringing a bell. I started to reach for my phone to call DW, my personal navigation system. But then I remembered that DW and his dad were already on the green starting their foursome of golf. Besides, really, what was I go to say? My voice already felt heavy and on the verge of crying.
“Oh – hi DW, I’m sorry to bother you but I’ve gotten us lost trying to get to the mall…sob, sob…and we almost ran out of gas…and I was afraid your mom might wet her pants because she needed a bathroom and we couldn’t get off the freaking highway!”
I thought better of it and assumed the conversation probably wouldn’t go so well.The memory of another panicked phone call to my husband, causing him to laugh uncontrollably and make fun of me for months still rung in my ears. “Hello, DW! sob…sob…I super-glued my fingers together trying to fix a piece of costume jewelry…sniffle…help me!” (No worries, he keeps large quantities of pure Acetone in our garage now.) Maybe I should have titled my blog My Panicked Life instead.
JW was back.
“What’s wrong? That didn’t take very long.”
Ugh! So I wasn’t going to have to ask my mother-in-law to help push my car, but she still might end up peeing in the woods.
“You know you’re never going to live that one down.”
“Obviously, but this is not like that!” I huffed. “I have a plan.”
Sort of – it was called, bullshit and drive as long as you can and hope we don’t end up in down town Detroit. JW looked at me in confusion. I assumed she was unsure she believed I had a plan. After all, I don’t have a very good track record.
When I slid into the seat, the little blue star button on my rear view mirror caught my attention. Suddenly, I remembered that our new car came with OnStar and turn by turn navigation free for the first year. Oh thank you God!
“We’ll just call OnStar,” I stated matter-of-factly.
I was saved.
“Hello, God, er I mean OnStar…it’s me Emily and I’m lost.”