Terry Talbert

February 14, 1998

Terry Talbert

This is Thursday, and I'm supposed to drive home to Ohio tomorrow morning for my mom's birthday, which was yesterday.

I realize that on the surface that makes no sense, but it's my mom's birthday we're talking about. Taken in that context, it does make sense. Mom is an unusual person. She's an Aquarius. She's a free spirit with only one foot barely touching the ground.

Oh, never mind. Suffice it to say I'm supposed to go home for mom's birthday a couple days late, because she wants me to.

I say supposed to go home, because after today I'm afraid to. If tomorrow begins the way today ended, I'm going to unpack and go back to bed.


Trips should be fun. Planning for trips should be fun. I don't know why both usually end up being clinical studies in Murphy's Law.

Take today, for instance. I was planning to go home, so I made little lists on stick-'em-up notes, which I then glued to my car dashboard so I wouldn't lose them.

Dutifully following the instructions I had written on the little yellow squares that were fluttering in the breeze on my dash, I dashed to the grocery store for wild bird seed, kitty litter, butter, Whiskas Lamb & Rice cat food and International Cafe coffee.

I'm not going to try to explain that.

I got to the store - I was on a tight time schedule - to find they had no Whiskas Lamb & Rice. They had regular formula Crave, but no Lamb & Rice. I had to have the latter, because my cat Cassie was having digestive problems (I will leave it at that) and lamb and rice is easy to digest.

When I didn't find it, I swore in the pet food aisle.

A pious-looking lady heard me and glared.

I walked four steps away and cursed again under my breath. I could feel her gaze piercing my spinal column. I didn't care.

I paid for what I got, and then headed for another grocery store a mile away, where I was able to find Whiskas Lamb & Rice, but only after playing chicken for a parking space with a very hairy, large man in a pickup truck.

I won.

Then I drove to City Hall where I had to go to two windows to pay my electric bill, because I'd left the check I'd written in advance at home and didn't have my bill or account number with me.

The lady at the payment window said before I could pay I would have to go to another window where they would find my account number and make me up a bill. She said she wasn't equipped to call up my account at her window. I did what she said, and they did what she said they'd do, and then I went back to the first window and paid my bill.

That done, I went to my hair stylist, who tamed my cowlicks. I gave her my house key. She's watching Cassie and Scooter for me. I reminded her about the Kluckers. Without his Kluckers, Scooter becomes impossible.

I went home, changed the kitty litter, changed clothes and drove early to my interview in Williamsport, only to remember I'd forgotten to get mom a birthday present.

On my dinner break I drove home, grabbed my checkbook, and then drove to a nearby flea market/antique shop to buy a picture I'd seen for mom. I planned to pick it up, grab some fast food and drive back to the office.

Two hours later, I staggered back in to work.

All started well. I found the picture I wanted. As I was checking out another aisle I was told the store was closing. I rush to the counter with my purchases (picture and two stuffed bunnies) only to realize I had no purse.

"I don't remember seeing you with a purse when you came in," one of the owners said.

I personally didn't even remember driving there. It was silly to ask me whether I remembered bringing my purse in the store. They asked me anyway.

"I haven't the foggiest," I said.

They just looked at me.

We scoured all five kazillion aisles quickly, looking for a black purse in a sea of things. The guys gave up. They wanted to close up. That's when I began to beg.

They agreed to let me drive home to see if I'd left my purse there. When I got there, I realized my house keys were in my purse. I proceeded to crawl into a window from the alley, much to Scooter's delight. No purse inside.

I called work. No purse under my desk. I jumped back in the car, and drove roughly a block before I looked to see how much gas I had. I couldn't see anything. I quickly turned on my headlights, only to discover I was driving on fumes.

It was back to the store, where we finally find my purse in Aisle 1. And then to the gas station - barely.

I haven't packed yet. I'm working a night shift.

Pray for me.

Terry Talbert is a Herald-Mail staff writer.

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