I like to pretend that I do not live in the world’s longest running I Love Lucy episode. Pretending allows me to do things like go outside and interact with people. If I worried about the next pratfall or broad joke at my expense, I’d just rock in place and never leave the house giggling maniacally at things like cats landing in boxes on YouTube for hours on end. It would be safer. Instead, I do my best to ignore the film crew and try to avoid the next joke they’ve got in store. I don’t want them to cue the canned laughter, because I stupidly fell for another one of their tricks. It’s for the better.
Last night at 2am I had a brilliant idea. I’d go to the store! I mean honestly, how is shopping not fun at 2am, I ask you? All of those wide empty aisles beckoning you over for a leisurely stroll. No one there to elbow you or crowd you out from retrieving your favorite item or seeing what’s on sale at that colorful display that may need to leap into your basket. Sadly though, there are only a few stores in the area that can accommodate a late night shopping fix and my preferred grocery store isn’t among them. That left me with a choice of three 24-hour Wal-Marts all within 5 miles of my house. I know, how is that not living the dream? (In oh so many ways, but at 2am, with about 2 hours of sleep it seemed, in that moment, like a mighty fine idea. Remember, I don’t judge you when you’re punch drunk and in search of a store.)
I get there. I shop. I chat with one of the few clerks on the floor and then I head out with my purchases. Pretty uneventful. I head to my car, pop the trunk, throw my Wal-Mart booty inside, put away my basket, and indulge an OCD moment of making sure all the baskets are properly pushed in and equally spaced apart, then I force myself to let it go and head back to my car. I reach into my pocket and my keys are gone. I dig through my purse, no keys. I look under the car, no keys. I walk back to the cart and look inside, no keys. Clearly, my keys have to be in the trunk.
This is still not my I Love Lucy moment.
I dig through my brain searching for an easy solution. No one is awake. No one can get me to my spare key at home. I’m on my own. I don’t accept that I’ve thrown the key in the trunk, but clearly that’s the only thing that could have happened. My internal rolodex spins around and I decide to call Pop-A-Lock. I call. Then I sit on a bench in the entry way and people watch. Lots of interesting people come into Wal-Mart at 3am. I make up stories about a few as I try to entertain myself while waiting. What drove them here at this time? From the women who look like they’ve just gotten off work to the guy who kept walking in and out in his pajamas. I notice one guy keeps coming in and out with different groups of people. We exchanged nods each time. I think, “guy, if you’re going to do something in the Wal-Mart at 3am, please do me the courtesy of keeping it inside – I just want to go home.”
The Pop-A-Lock guy appears and after setting off my angry little car alarm we break into the trunk. No key. I dig through the bags, slinging items all over the trunk. No key. We retrace my steps. No key. We look under the car, carefully search the parking lot to where I stored the basket. No key. We look around the baskets. No key. A disembodied voice says, “your key is over there.” Weird. We look. No key. “No, the other side.” We look. No key. “It’s right there.” Where? I look at the mini-van and all I see is the outline of a head in the tinted window. Finally, the door opens and the young guy who had walked into Wal-Mart several times with different groups of folks appears. “Right there.” Sure enough, dangling from the bottom of the basket is my key. I thank the guy and he smiles broadly. “You’re the lady from the Wal-Mart. You were stranded.” Yes. He smiles as he’s figured out my story. His smile grows even bigger as he sees the Pop-A-Lock guy and he greets him like he’s just seen his favorite super hero appear and descend on the scene, “WOW!! You’re the Pop-A-Lock guy!!” Jake, my lock popping/key hunting hero beams back and says, “yes, I am.” The young guy takes a step back as he stands in awe of Jake. Meanwhile, I’m gushing thanks to everyone, because I get to go home. The young guy finally recomposes himself and says, “let me give you my card. I’m a musician and I’m also really good at finding things.” Jake gives him a pen and tells him he can keep it. The look on the kid’s face is as if Superman is standing before him and just handed him a long lost Kryptonian artifact. “If you ever need things found, here’s my email.” I take his information and get the world’s biggest hug.
The mini-van door slides back again and another man joins us. He hands me a flyer and encourages me to read it saying, “you can get more if you’re interested, just look inside.” I agree to do that and then dash to my car practically hopping up and down in joy as I sing out my thanks to my parking lot heroes.
I get home and look at the flyer.
I accept (though not truly embrace) the fact that since it’s me, it couldn’t be a normal “yeah, I got my car unlocked and drove home” kind of story. So, with that I say…
Thank you for saving me, Space Angels!