Ding-ding-ding-ding-ding, sang the van, reminding me that my keys were in the ignition.
“Silly car,” I said, and closed the door to pump my gas. I knew where my keys were.
It was a cloudy fall morning, and I had one last errand to run before picking up my son at preschool.
The gas pump beeped at me. Car wash? No, thanks. Receipt? Sure. Cheerio.
I pulled the door handle, and stood there, dumbstruck, when the door didn’t budge. There were my keys in the ignition, just as the van had warned me. There was my cell phone, between the front seats. And there was the door lock button, pushed all the way down.
I rested my forehead against the driver-side window, willing the lock to pop up with sheer mind power. No luck.
“Crap,” I euphemized.
I considered my options. Call roadside assistance? They’d never get me unlocked in time to pick up Timmy. Call my husband? No, I didn’t want to tell Earl about my stupid mistake.
As I stood with my head against the window, I decided my best option was to put Earl on notice that he might have to pick up Timmy, and then call roadside assistance. I didn’t like making either call, but I was stuck.
I headed into the station’s convenience store and tried to act like a damsel in distress, rather than a dame in a dunce cap.
“Hi,” I said. “I’ve locked myself out of my car, and my cell phone is inside. May I please use your phone?”
“Who are you going to call?” the clerk asked, suspiciously.
Ghostbusters, I thought, sarcastically. “My husband, and then roadside assistance,” I said, sweetly.
“Okay,” she grumbled.
I dialed Earl’s number.
“Hello,” he said, cheerfully, unsuspectingly.
“Hi. I’m calling from the gas station and I’ve locked myself out of the van and I might need you to pick up Timmy and I need the number for roadside assistance so they can come and unlock me,” I said, all in one breath.
“Isn’t the number in your cell phone?” he asked.
“My phone is in the van, which is LOCKED,” I seethed.
“Oh,” he said. “Well, why don’t I just come unlock you?”
Pause. “Um, well, I didn’t think you could do that,” I stammered.
“Of course, I can,” he said. I could hear the smile in his voice.
Twenty minutes later, he greeted me with another smile, a hug, and the all-important key to the van. A push of the magic unlock button, a quick kiss, and we each were on our way.
Who knew that by unlocking my car, Earl would nudge the door of my heart open a little wider, too?
Julie Fay is a freelance writer whose family columns appear in The Patriot Ledger (Quincy, Mass.) and other GateHouse Media publications across the United States. She draws on her experiences as a teacher, musician and autism parent to inform and entertain readers with a light touch.
Ms. Fay’s writings have been published by Autism Speaks, South Shore Living magazine, Grit magazine, South Shore magazine, and numerous community newspapers. She muses on life and other topics on her blog: www.juliefaysblog.blogspot.com and on Facebook at www.fbook.me/fayjulie.
She had never locked herself out of her car before that fateful day last fall, and promises to listen the next time it dings at her.