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I Have Had Some Embarrassing Moments

[center][b]Where is my car?[/b][/center]

I have lost my car in nine states and uncountable cities. This was the worst one, though. Moments like this result from being too stupid to learn from the last twenty times you lost your car, and making detailed mental notes about where it is when you get out and lock it.

One other time I lost my car at a South Carolina mall. I went in through Penney's and I did make note of that, but later found there were FOUR doors into Penney's, because it sat on a concrete peninsula at one corner of the mall. I looked for it for twenty minutes. As usual, I was driving a car of such Blue Book value, car theft seemed unlikely. At last I found a security guard in his adorable little golf cart, and asked for help. "You lost your car?" he said, as though I were the first person to do that. "Sure, I'll help. Where did you leave it?":(

My daughter was taking tap and ballet lessons. You would think, since this is true of maybe 60% of young children, leotards and tutus would be easy to come by. You would be wrong.

We lived in a county that did not have a single traffic light. Rural doesn't quite explain the remoteness.

It was the days before computers, little ones, and I checked our phone book (which was so skinny they slid it under the door when they delivered it) and then called information and got the name and number of a "Dance Supplies" store in Harrisburg, PA.

I didn't and don't belong in Harrisburg, or in any other place that has traffic lights.

I got good directions from a friend, and with my five-year-old daughter (that was a rough year for her, traveling with me) I drove to Harrisburg in nine degrees below zero weather. I dressed my child warmly (so warmly that now, at 35, she is still complaining she was sixteen before she knew people could lower their arms in the winter). I took no such precautions for myself. We were going to be in a car, right?

I thought I was near the place, but couldn't see the parking garage to which I'd been directed. I asked a man standing on the corner to please tell me where the Walnut Street parking garage was, and he pointed. "Right over there, Miss."

I drove in, parked the car, and uncharacteristically checked where I was. Third floor, G-16. Got it. Back on the ground floor, I asked the garage cashier how to get to our store and we set out.

City crews were working on the sidewalks, so we had to go in the side door of a bank and out through the front door. I had a moment of unease, knowing my sense of direction would not compensate, but then I realized the people at the store could tell me, so I strode onward.

We got to the store, purchased the necessary tutu, tights and leotards. At the register, I paid and asked for return directions to the Walnut Street parking garage.

That part went just fine, although it was extremely cold and I had no gloves, and my coat was less than equal to its task.

At the parking garage, my daughter and I were laughing and having fun when we got in the elevator. I glanced up at the arrow that tells you what floor you're on and frowned. First floor (ours), second floor, mezzanine, fourth floor... Wait just a darned minute! I'm on the THIRD floor...and there isn't one.

I shook that off, pushed the mezzanine button and found it was different from the floor I'd parked on. Fewer cars, more doors to offices tucked away in the building.

I pushed the fourth floor button, which closely resembled the place where my Mazda was resting. We walked around and looked at every vehicle. No Mazda like mine. We tried the next two floors up, and no joy. It was cold.

My daughter was getting that look on her face, the one that asked, "Why do they let me go out with this woman?"

All the floors were full of cars, but empty of people, so I returned to the Mezzanine and at random picked the "PA State Department of Education Security Office" door, turned the knob and went in.

A tall pleasant black man stood up and asked, "Can I help you, ma'am?"

"Can you help me find my car?" I have mastered the Blanche DuBois facial expression, the one she wore when she said, "I have always depended on the kindness of strangers" in Streetcar Named Desire.

"Sure! Glad to help." I did not realize until later this darling of a man had no responsibility to help me with anything. I had parking garage troubles, he worked for Dept of Education security.

He asked a few questions, make and color of car, did I think maybe somebody stole it? (I saw a Lexus, a Mercedes and a fancy SAAB nearby, I kinda doubt it.) Then he said, "just a minute," fetched his parka and gloves from a backroom and rejoined us.

For the next half hour, we checked every car on every floor of that parking garage. Sometimes he carried my daughter, sometimes I did. He loaned me his gloves. "No! You need them..." He pushed the gloves toward me and reached in a pocket and drew out another pair of gloves. Wow. Two pairs of gloves. Impressive.

Somewhere during the search, his boss called him on his walkie talkie to tell him his shift was over and he could go home. He answered, "Thanks, but I'm going to stick with this lady and her daughter until we find her car."

At the last car on the last floor, he suddenly stopped, looked at me and said, "Let me see your parking ticket."

At that moment, I knew, too, what I'd done and I didn't want to show him the ticket, but I did, saying, "Please don't say what I think you're going to say."

He said it anyway. "This is the wrong garage, Miss. You're in the Willow Street garage." (That probably wasn't its name but I forget.)

Didn't I just ask you not to say that? I went into paroxysms of apology.

"It's okay, Miss. Everybody makes mistakes." We took the elevator down, but he didn't press mezzanine for his stop.

At street level, I thanked him with all my heart and gave him back his gloves. "Can you tell me how to get to the Willow Street parking garage?"

He opened his mouth, closed it, held out his/my gloves, then said, "I'll just walk you on over, okay?"

He was carrying my little girl when he asked her, "Tell me, honey, when you and your Mom leave the house, do you find your way home again?"

My daughter answered, "So far."

We found my car, and he left us, waving away my apologies, thanks and embarrassment.

A week later I had to go to Harrisburg again, but it didn't involve parking garages. I still parked in the Walnut Street Garage, took the elevator to the Mezzanine and walked into the PA Dept of Education Security office and asked for my friend and knight. He wasn't working that day.

I held out a plate of chocolate chip cookies, and asked the man at the counter to see that he got them. "There's a thank you card taped on the tinfoil.

"I'll see that he does, but can you tell me what you're thanking him for?"

I did that and when I got back to my car I thought I could still hear his laughter ringing through the parking garage.


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Heartlander · 80-89, M
Oh .... I lose my car at least once a month. They are much easier to lose if they are white sedans.

It can be pretty annoying in the winter, especially when I leave my coat in the car, thinking it's just a short walk to the front door. So why bother?

I have a few precautionary practices, like I always try to park in the same area for the same store. Also near a shopping cart return cove.

But then I blow it when I walk out the store and head to the first white sedan that catches my eye. Damn.
Mamapolo2016 · 70-79, F
@Heartlander I did the orange tennis ball on the antenna for a while, but before long EVERYBODY had an orange tennis ball on their antenna, so that didn't work anymore.

I just had what I consider to be a brilliant idea. I bought a new phone yesterday and my old phone was such an old phone, I couldn't trade it in. It still works, though, except for phone things. I don't know how long that will last...but for the time being I can (maybe) use "Find my phone" on my NEW phone to find my OLD phone, which I can leave in the car!

It's so brilliant there must be a fatal flaw. I'll let you know.

A couple of times I have been looking for my car and encountered somebody else looking for their car. Then I say, this is what my car looks like. What does your car look like? And then we walk in opposite directions, duty-bound to sing out if either of us finds the others' car. That has actually yielded results twice.