Gather round dear friends, it's time for me to tell you a story. A true story. A stupid true story that illustrates why I will never be a real grown up no matter how old I get and why does this stuff happen to me anyway?
Last Monday was my special day to drive Jonathan and his friend Stas up to NYLT (National Youth Leadership Training), an invitation only Scout Camp. I love driving hyper teenage boys to camp two hours away, except not really.
After I dropped them off I picked up a diet coke and started the trek home. After about half an hour of driving, my car started making weird noises, and then my steering wheel got all jerky-wonky. At the time I was driving with one hand because I was trying to get the last bit of ice from my diet coke and I wasn't exactly sure what was going on.
But you know what was going on, don't you? Because only a dork like me thinks, "Wow, the wind must really be blowing hard." Then I thought, "Ummm, or maybe I have a flat tire?". So I pulled over to the side of the freeway and got out to check my tires.
So I stood on the side of the freeway with cars whizzing past at 80 mph for maybe 20 minutes while I pondered what the heck I should do. My hair got nice and frizzy but no one stopped to help me.
There was a fence next to me on the freeway, about 6 feet tall. It was three feet of cement and then 3 feet of chain link on top of that. So, like a grown up (not!), I decided to climb over it and see if I could get help from someone in the warehouse I could see on the other side. I kind of wonder what anyone driving past thought about a middle aged white woman hopping a fence on the freeway-but I guess I'll never know.
I plopped down and started walking around the warehouse looking for a door. My hair was a windy mess and my white t-shirt was filthy from the chain link but, whatever. I finally found a glass door and with my face pressed against it I could see the warehouse was full of boxes, but I didn't see any people.
I gave a little tug on the door and SHAZZAM, the building alarm went off. It was awesome. I sort of shrugged and held my hands up to let anyone watching on any security cameras know that I was not a threat-but they must have already guessed that because no one came.
So I kept prowling around the building. There were cars in the parking lot so I knew there were people somewhere. People with phones. People who could help me.
People who only spoke Chinese! Yep, the next glass door opened into an office, but the two men working the front desk didn't speak English. An effort was made at sign language but "I got a flat tire and locked myself out of my car on the freeway next to your office so I jumped the fence and came here looking for a phone and oh, can I look up my husband's number on your computer because I don't have it memorized?" doesn't translate all that well.
They did let me use their computer. But it was set to Chinese. I still found Marc's office number and gave him a call. He told me to sit tight and he'd get road side service to me and call back when they were on the way. Then I sat quietly with the two men wondering if they understood why I wasn't leaving. My emotions were sort of teeter-tottering between laughing hysterically and crying and I kept telling myself to focus on how silly this all was to keep from crying.
After 30 or so long minutes Marc called back and told me road side service was on the way and to go wait by the car. Easier said than done in this case. I thanked my new friends and walked back over to the fence. My car was purring smoothly on the other side and I decided to wait to scramble back over the fence until the tow truck came. I didn't really like standing on the freeway. Surprise!
A few minutes later one of my new Chinese buddies came out and stood with me. He asked in broken English if that was my car. Affirmative. Then he pointed to the freeway and asked if I wanted a ride.
I carefully weighed my options and decided that we were fully friends now and that I did feel better about a ride with him than trying to climb the fence again. Plus it was lower down on the warehouse side and I wasn't even sure I could do it.
As we climbed into his car I wondered if maybe this was the beginning of my new life. Maybe we were going to drive off into little Chinatown together and I would live as a white slave maid somewhere. "What will my Dad think?" I wondered. But I got in anyway, took a deep, centering breath, held out my hand and said, "Thank you so much for the ride. My name is Shelley." And my new friend took my hand, smiled, and said, "I'm Chinese."
I'm not making this up.
From there the story gets pretty predictable. I got my tire changed and drove to a close by tire place were I got to spend a thousand dollars on four new tires because "A BMW is a precision all wheel drive vehicle and if you replace one tire you need to replace them all..blah, blah, blah..."
When I finally got home I picked Marc up from Bart and thanked him for being my long distance savior. Then I made him take me out to dinner because even though we have been on the Medifast eating plan, I told him I didn't know how to get through a day like that without ice cream!
Maybe I will someday, if I'm ever a grown up.