Friday, February 13, 2009

Is that a chop shop or are you just happy to see me?

(originally published February 20, 2008)

This is it, I thought.
The end of the road. The place where I am going to die.
I paused. Then narrowed my eyes and gripped the steering wheel in quiet determination.
But not before I kill my husband first.


It was too late at night (after traveling 10 hours in a car) for ear-splitting swear words to bounce off the walls of the hotel bathroom.

I pulled the pillow over my head, rolled over and quietly chanted, “I’m on vacation. I’m on vacation.”

My feeble attempt at meditation was quickly drowned out by another thunderous “$%&!” followed by loud stomping. It traveled from the bathroom and ended at the edge of the bed. Wonderful.

“Hey,” my husband said, leaning hard on the bed to send me rolling over to its edge.

“Hey,” another hard shake to send me bouncing, “are you awake?”

Nope. I’m on vacation.

“Hey,” shake, “wake up,” shake, shake.

But I remained silent in my pillow prison, determined to keep the upper hand.

I heard a loud sigh, and the bed stopped bouncing. He took a step back, and in silent celebration I yelled, “Hah! I am victorious!”

There went the blankets.

There went my pillow.

I shouted, “What the heck is your problem?!”

He had the nerve to look offended. He crossed his arms and said with a start, “There’s no reason to get bitchy.”

I pointed to the blankets and pillows that now littered the blue, industrial-grade carpet on the hotel floor and answered, “Oh, really. Shall I present Exhibit A?”

He waved a dismissing hand and said, “We have an emergency.”

Well, why didn’t he say so in the first place?!

I jumped out of bed and ran to the door. Quickly scanning the hotel floor plan and emergency directions written on the back of it, I said in my best Please-Remain-Calm-I-Am-In-Charge voice, “What is it? Fire? Earthquake? Incoming Scud missile?” I paused then said, “Oh, wait. Do they even have those anymore?”

I whirled around and picked up things I thought would come in handy in case World War III was breaking out. Clothes. Shoes. Cell phone. Hair dryer (hey, don’t judge me).

I was thisclose to breaking into the liquor cabinet for fortification when my husband hollered, “Stop! That’ll cost me a fortune!”

“Then what is the problem?” I asked and headed for the door with half of my belongings piled in my arms.

He slumped down on the bed, put his head in his hands and muttered, “I forgot to pack my contact lens case.”

I stopped walking. “That’s it?” I asked and dumped said belongings onto the floor. “You forgot the little plastic case thingy for your bionic eyeballs?”

He nodded.

You gotta be kidding me.

“Can’t you just use a glass or something tonight?” I asked, picking up the blankets and pillows and crawling back into bed.

He nodded and crawled in after me.

I should have stopped there. But, no, my gregarious, kind-hearted nature and love for my husband made me say, “I’ll hunt up a drugstore tomorrow and get you a new case. How hard can that be?”


It didn’t take long to figure out I’d made a wrong turn.

My car was the only one with all its hub caps.
And doors.

I quickly reached for the cell phone and called my husband.

Before he could even answer I shrieked, “OK, what is it with this town?! I’ve been driving around for a friggin’ hour! Have they even HEARD of Walgreen’s? Or Wal-Mart? Or an optometrist? Or any place that doesn’t have bars across the windows?!”

“Uh, where are you?” he asked.

I looked around in terror, “I’m in the friggin’ Hood! That’s where I am!” Just as I began my last will and testament, I spotted a sign off in the distance. Just beyond what must be a chop shop. Or a tattoo parlor. It was kinda hard to see since I was driving with my head under the dashboard.

“Oh, dear God,” I sighed in relief and smiled, “A drugstore.”

I whipped into the driveway and parked with a screeching halt. My husband said, “Great! Thanks again for doing this.”

“No problem,” I answered, pulled a can of mace from my purse and prepared to open the car door. “I’ll just kill you later.”

You can e-mail Kelley Baldwin at

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