Saturday, August 8, 2009

The Phone Call

Today I drove to Wilsonville and met with my sister, Nina, and my parents. They've been to several different places to look for a place to live. Today, we went to an independent living senior center for a tour. The tour took a long time and I got worn out. If you didn't need a scooter before moving into one of those places, you'd need one within a week. Those halls are long and my legs are short.

At five minutes after five we got floor plans and price lists and menus and calendars of events and packed them all out to my sister's car. The parents got in and fumbled around with their seatbelts as Nina's phone rang. "Hello?" She squinted so she could hear better, and waved her hand in the air to silence us. "Oh, yes, the car. When are you arriving? Five minutes?"

Four indrawn breaths sucked the air out of the car.

"Oh, you're joking...when...tomorrow...okay...what? or cashier's check...okay, great...see you tomorrow."

"Was that the car carrier about the Buick?" my mother asked.

"Yes," Nina answered. "It will be here tomorrow. She is going to find a place to stay tonight about three hours away from here, so it will be early tomorrow."

"Great," we all said together. I could barely wait to see the car again.

My sister put the car in gear and rolled forward toward the front gate. "Yes. Did you know they needed $2,500 in cash or cashier's check?"

My eyes widened. I did vaguely remember that. I glanced at my mother in the front seat. Her eyes were wide and glassy, like a deer in the headlights. She just stared at Nina.

"Yeah, I kind of remember them saying that," I said. "Did you remember that, Mom?"

She continued to stare like a figure in a wax museum. Drool formed at the corners of my mouth and threatened to slide down my chin.


"Um...I forgot."

My eyes shot to my watch. At 5:10 on a Saturday afternoon it would be impossible to come up with that kind of money. Why, oh why hadn't I thought to remind my poor parents of this little detail? My mother started digging through her purse. "Seventeen dollars."

Dear Lord.

When we got to Nina's house, they all jumped out and ran into the house with glazed expressions. I unlocked the door of my car and dumped out my ashtray. Three dollars in quarters and eighty-six pennies. It was a good start.

I tipped over my purse and gathered up all the change at the bottom and the crinkled up dollar bills. Nearly twenty more dollars. I mentally calculated how many friends I could call to trade a check for cash. Nina and her husband, Laurent, flew out of the house and crammed themselves into the car, heading for the cash machine. Nina rarely uses the ATM, so when she stuck her card into the machine and punched in her number it said the code did not match the card. She tried again, but it was still wrong. "Ah," she thought, "that must be the wrong card. She searched through her wallet and purse and found another ATM card and shoved it into the machine.

"Card Expired."

The machine did not give it back.

I borrowed Laurent's car and drove the hour to my house to unload the two tables that were my grandmother's and search my house for money. I knew I had some, I just didn't know where or how much. I wondered how many packs of gum I could buy and write the check for the maximum over the sale price for cash back. We have a lot of stores in Vancouver. If I wrote checks at 200 stores, I might get enough. Nina and Laurent were in the process of attempting that very process. Laurent had better luck at the ATM, though. That cut down on the number of grocery stores we had to visit.

Between what we all had on hand and our various stops we managed to scrape up the required cash. Thank heavens they didn't want a million dollars. How do kidnappers expect a person to raise that kind of money in 24 hours. It took us most of the evening, and three different families to raise enough to ransom the Buick.

"Oh," Nina said, "did I tell you it has a flat tire?"

I love AAA. I'm bringing my card tomorrow and calling them. There are no problems that cannot be solved...with Triple A and a bottle of rum.


  1. Oh, Mel. My blog told me that you had a new post. To my surprise and horror I saw the whole diary of the nightmare, part 5. Or 4 or 6.
    Of all the days Reliable COULD have delivered the car, why Sunday? Unbelievable. But a very funny story in your hands. Hopefully, someday everyone will be settled in and Mom and Dad will have a slew of new friends and activities and some semblance of your life will return, allowing you to finish your PLACE winning novel! That's the blog I want to read. I had to force myself to revisit the Westborough packing.

  2. I'm thinking of returning to writing my book.


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