Springfield

Since I returned from Core Peer Support Training, I’ve enrolled in the Certified Recovery Support Specialist Competency Training, which takes place over three days, spanning three months, in Springfield. I pack my lunch, and a backpack of class supplies and trek over there for the day. It’s about an hour and a half away from our house, so it makes for an ok day trip. Pretty fool-proof, right? – WRONG –

JUNE

I arrived early, didn’t get lost, and settled in for the day. I networked, and learned things, took notes and doodled in my margins. We all got excited about the prospect of attaining our CRSS accreditation. We bid each other farewell at the end of the day, and I hopped back into my car, ready to listen to my audiobook and cruise home at 3:30pm.

I got stuck at an outrageously long red light two lights away from the highway on ramp. I was anxious to get going! It turned green, and we started moving, and my front driver side tire was making that unmistakable noise – She was COMPLETELY flat! I had to cross 3 lanes of traffic quickly to exit the busy street, and pulled nose first into the first space I could find in a lot between a Starbucks and McDonalds. I got out of my car to assess the damage and reviewed the last 10 minutes in my mind…

“Did my tire make that noise when I started out, and I just not notice? Did I run something over? Did I hit something and not notice? Could I have killed someone?? Did someone slice my tires??? Is this a sabotage??? IS THERE A MASS MURDERER ON MY HEELS?!?”

I checked myself. (Too much Criminal Minds binge watching lately!) Clearly this was what they call “Act of god”. I opened my glove box and rifled through the zillion and one papers I had shoved in there over the past 4 years but couldn’t seem to locate my insurance card to call for help. The Ghostbusters theme came on in my brain, who am I gonna call??? Martin. That’s who. He relayed our insurance information over the phone and I scribbled it onto one of those zillion and one papers I had sifted through. I called the insurance, and they said they were sending someone out.

So I waited.

This wonderful kid (I say kid, because I’m pretty sure he was in his very early twenties, and completely adorable) Aaron who works a contract with esurance came to my rescue. Through the next half an hour, we discovered that not only was the hole in my tire so big we could stick a pinkie finger through it, no amount of fix-a-flat or patching would fix that sucker! We also discovered that the donut/spare that is supposed to save me, in the bottom of my trunk, in situations like this? Yeah, it had a crooked rim, and the air valve didn’t close all the way because of the heat… in other words: It had gone bad sitting in the bottom of my trunk in the Florida heat for the past 10 years of the car’s life. (Did you know this could happen, dear reader? I sure didn’t… I urge you: Next time you’re in for any work on your car, have them look at your spare… I mean REALLY look at it.)

Dear, sweet, adorable Aaron put my spare on, because he had no other choice, and followed me to the nearest gas station to pump it as full as he could. He called over to the nearest discount tire place (which was closing in less than an hour) and made sure they’d take me before they locked up. After he closed out the esurance claim, he felt terrible that he couldn’t help me further, so he gave me his personal cell phone number. He said, “I don’t do this often, but I would feel simply awful if your donut couldn’t even make it to the tire place. Please call me if you can’t make it, promise?” I promised.

The drive to the tire place was excruciating, and as I pulled into the lot, I could hear that all-too-familiar FLAT sound coming from my donut.

I tried to have good humor with the guys at the shop, and they started to tease me, but quickly realized that I was reaching the end of my tether on which I can only handle so much in a day. They fixed me up. I drove home. I walked in my door approximately 4 hours after I thought I would.

JULY

Again, I made it there on time, had a great day of training and met more people and caught up with those I had met previously. Hopped into my car, and briefly reminisced in my own mind about the fiasco I had experienced the month before and was SO careful on my way to the on ramp! I got onto the highway with no issues. “AHH!” That’s more like it.

Just a few miles in, my gas light comes on, and I know that my dear old lady car really means it when she says she’s thirsty. The next exit says there’s only one spot for gas, but it’ll have to do.

I turn left, and follow signs for the gas station, but normally you can see them from the highway… I keep driving… No gas station… my mind starts going

“It’s probably right up ahead, past those trees… Relax… Just keep driving… Ok, it’s not just past the trees, maybe it’s past this curve here… Is there someone behind me? Oh god, the car is ding-ing again, she’s really thirsty… Am I going to make it? What if I have to get out and walk?? I’m glad I wore comfortable shoes today… There IS someone behind me.. How long have they been there?? Do they look suspicious?? If they are suspicious, would they really look it?! THIS IS HOW HORROR MOVIES START, OH GOD, WHERE IS THIS FUCKING GAS STATION?!?!?! Oh, there it is.”

My heart rate begins to go down, and I fish for my wallet… It’s not there. “Maybe it’s in another pocket…” I say out loud in my parked car. Nope. OH GOD. Was it stolen? When was the last time I used it?! I traced back in my mind… I actually haven’t seen it at all today, and don’t honestly believe that I packed it. The horror sets in… yes, I’ve driven across the state of Illinois with no identification or money whatsoever on my person.

Who am I gonna call? Martin. He starts to get upset with me, but realizes that I’m frustrated enough with myself, and him being upset wouldn’t help. He makes some suggestions, and I head inside to face my humiliation with the station clerk. Our dialogue goes something like this:

Me: Hi, I’m out of gas. I don’t live anywhere near here, I’m on my way home to Champaign from Springfield. I also do not have my wallet with me. Would you by any chance be able to run my credit card by typing in the numbers, please?

Clerk: No, sorry. We can’t do that anymore.

Me: Oh… I… Wait… I don’t understand… What am I going to do? I have money to pay you on a credit card that is currently in Champaign, Illinois.
Clerk: Sorry, we aren’t allowed to key in numbers anymore.
Me: Umm… I… I am out of gas, though… I… I don’t know what to do… Have you ever had one of those days? Where you feel like no matter what you do, something will inevitably go terribly wrong?
Clerk: No…
My shoulders slump, and I’m fighting my tears back with every ounce of strength I have left.
Clerk: Actually… Yeah, I have. Let me see if I can still access the manual screen on my machine.
Me: Oh, thank you, so much. Can I tell you a funny story about my last trip to Springfield?
Clerk: Sure.
I regaled him with my tire story, and we both smiled and I said, “I just don’t think that Springfield likes it when I visit!”
Clerk: Or it just doesn’t want you to leave… One or the other!

 

Thankfully, the manual entry worked on the first try, and I made it home. No murderers in tow!

I have one more class left in Springfield in mid August: Please keep your fingers, toes and eyes crossed that it’s UNEVENTFUL!!!

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