In 2001, while vacationing in California, my grandpa was having some heart trouble. After several tests they discovered he has a thoracic aortic aneurysm and they put in a stent to allow blood to flow to his legs. [I'm no doctor so I might not have all these details exactly right, but you get the jist.] Earlier this year Grandpa’s doctors discovered the shunt is leaking and needed to be replaced. They also need to put in another stent to allow blood flow to the kidney. Today was surgery day.
My dad took Grandpa and my step-grandma to the hospital at 6am. I got the kids off to school, came home and showered, and then headed off to the hospital too.
Before I left I realized my battery on my blackberry was fairly low. “It will have to do,” I thought. I didn’t have time to charge it and it didn’t even occur to me to bring my charger.
Grandpa’s surgery was at the university hospital. That’s about a 40 minute drive from my house. As I hit the interstate and looked at my gas gauge – the one on about an eighth of a tank of gas – and realized I needed to stop for gas or I’d never make it to Iowa City. So I pulled over and filled her up.
I got to the hospital around 12:15 this afternoon. Grandpa wasn’t expected to come out of the operating room for another couple of hours. So I settled in to a chair and chatted with my dad and grandma while we waited.
By 2:30 the doctor came out to tell us everything went well and the surgery was done. Then we just needed to wait for him to come out of recovery.
An hour later he still wasn’t in his room and I needed to leave. I had to pick the kids up from school. So I told Dad I would go pick them up, run them home and come back because I wanted to see Grandpa.
I walked out to my truck to head home and…
…my truck was gone.
Where I had left my red truck now stood a white University of Wisconsin pickup truck. WTF?!?
I thought maybe I had forgotten where I parked my car so I looked around. Yep. This all looked familiar. I followed the same path I had followed a few hours before in to the building. Yep. This is the exact path I took. I walked back outside. Still a white truck. Not my red truck. I checked to make sure there wasn’t a “No Parking” sign. There was no such sign. I had no clue where my truck was. And I was starting to panic.
I wasn’t really sure what to do. I could see the cashiers with a mile long chain of cars waiting to pay and leave the parkade. I didn’t really want to walk over there with all those cars. I thought about walking inside to see if I could find somebody to help me in there. But figured a volunteer at the help desk wouldn’t really be able to help me. So I called my dad. He told me he was on his way to meet me in the parkade.
I tried to call Lee to let him know I was stuck in IC and wouldn’t be able to get the kids. But I got his voicemail.
By this point the cars exiting had thinned out. I walked over to a cashier. “Um, I parked right over there earlier and my car is gone. I don’t see a “No parking” sign, but did my car get towed or something?”
He wasn’t sure so he got on the phone. “What kind of car do you have?” he asked. “It’s a red Tahoe,” I answered. He hung up and dialed somebody else. Just then my dad showed up. Thankfully. Because I was starting to lose my cool and may have very well burst in to tears in front of this twenty-something college student.
The cashier hung up the phone and said, “They towed your car. They said it was leaking gas.” He told us I had to go to the Old Capital Mall to the Public Transportation/Security office (a.k.a. campus cops) which was in the basement. He said I could take the Cambus to get there.
I was in shock. Leaking gas?!? Towed?!? WTF!?!? It was all a bit much to take in.
Dad asked me if I wanted to take the Cambus or have him take me. I started to panic about the Cambus (like I do…hello OCD my old friend) so I decided to have Dad take me.
While Dad ran to tell my grandma that he was taking me to get my car I tried to call Lee again. No answer. Just then I happened to get an email from him giving me his new contact info at work. So I emailed him back. “I’m stuck in IC. My car was towed. You need to get the kids. Call me.” And then I tried to call him one more time.
AND MY PHONE DIED.
Mother flipping #@!(@(*%! Seriously?!? For real?!?
When my dad came back I grabbed his cell phone and tried to call Lee again. Still no answer. I wasn’t sure if he got my email or any of my messages. I wasn’t sure if he was able to go get the kids. So I called my grandma (my mom’s mom). No answer. I tried to call my Aunt Candy. No answer. I tried to call my friend Necole. And she answered.
She was a life saver. She agreed to pick up the kids and take them to her house until Lee could pick them up. One stressor down.
Then I called Keaton to tell him Necole was picking them up. No answer. I tried him again. Again no answer.
FOR THE LOVE OF GOD WHY DOES NOBODY ANSWER THEIR PHONE!
I tried to send him a text message. He answered his text. Whew! I should have known that was the way to reach him. Another stressor eliminated.
Dad and I headed to the mall. We walked in the doors and checked the map. We couldn’t find any Public Transportation office. Or a basement for that matter.
COULD ANYTHING ELSE GO WRONG? DOES GOD HATE ME?
We walked outside to see if we could find the office. We headed towards the parking ramp. We finally find a small sign and a door near the ramp. Why do they insist on trying to hide this office?
We made our way to the office where a campus cop asked me for my ID. She said the fire department came out and threw something down to soak up the gas, but the truck was still leaking. And even though the hospital campus is non-smoking they couldn’t risk my truck seeping gas in a busy parking ramp. So they had to tow it. I’m glad she gave me the background, but it did little to make me feel better.
She gave me a paper and told me I needed to head to the towing company. Although I attended school for several years at the university I don’t really know my way around the city that well. As she tried to give me directions I was lost. Plus I was starting to go in to a trance at the thought of yet another trip before I get my car back. And the cost of getting it back. Luckily my dad was coherent and could still remember his way around town from his days of driving a Cambus…many, many years ago.
So we piled back in to the car and headed to the towing place. The towing place that was clear out of town. I had to think back to the parkade cashier’s suggestion that I take the Cambus. If I had taken the Cambus how the hell would I have made it to the towing place? And I made a vow to never listen to twenty-year-olds in parking ramps.
At the towing place I stood at the counter trying to brace myself for the total.
Ninety freaking six dollars. And thirty cents. Just shy of $100. Merry Christmas to me.
As I hoping back in to the truck the guy who actually towed my car came over to talk to me about it. He recounted the story about the fire department being there and pouring something on the ground to soak up the gasoline. He said he was going to throw a tarp or something under my truck when he brought it to the tow yard, but it was no longer leaking. I told him I just filled up right before I left. He said I probably have some kind of leak that only leaks when the tank is full and that I should take it to my mechanic, but it was probably fine to drive it.
So the lessons here are (1) always make sure you cell phone is fully charged, (2) don’t fill your gas tank all the way to the top, and (3) keep your sense of humor at all times for fear of curling in to the fetal position and bawling like a baby in public.
By time I was done at the towing company it was after 5pm. The kids were already taken care of. And Grandpa was finally in a room. So I headed back to the hospital to see him. He looked great. Tired, but great. And he said he was feeling well.
So even though my truck is broken, I had to fork over $100 to a tow company, and I was on the verge of tears for about two hours, it was great to see Grandpa doing so well.