Having saved my packing for Friday afternoon, after work, when 3:15 pm arrived I sure wished I hadn't done that.
Knowing we were leaving on vacation on Saturday morning, I felt just fine leaving my packing for Friday afternoon, after work. There were six solid hours that I would have to cram things into my suitcase. What was there to worry about?
I had a full six hours to get myself ready for our 9 day trip to California and Mexico.
I had no worries. At least not until 3:15 that Friday afternoon when I got a telephone call from my dear, sweet husband saying, "help."
I should have known. Never save your packing for the last minute. Never. Especially if you're married to Rick.
At 3:15 pm Rick's distress call came in. He had been trying to find the local WalMart (only two blocks from our house) and had gotten lost. Real lost.
"Hey, can you tell me how to get back?"
"Well, where are you?"
"Pattonville. I just passed a sign that said 'Pattonville.'"
"Never heard of it."
And I hadn't.
"I took the 271 and then the 83. I'm now passing the Pleasant Valley Cemetery."
I resisted the urge to say, "Well, stop in... And stay."
I had only 15 minutes left of work and the entire building was preparing to close down for the Thanksgiving holiday. I spent the remainder of my work day studying Mapquest and hunting down Pattonville. There was one in Colorado. Surely he wasn't in Colorado. He couldn't be. He hadn't had time to get there.
Fifteen minutes later, I still had no idea where he was and enlisted the aid of my sister in law and her husband, both 30+ year residents of Texas.
"Hey, Linda... you're retarded brother has gotten lost again. Can you help me get him home?" And would you believe it? Even THEY didn't know where Pattonville was.
I finally had to hand the task over to Linda and leave to pick up Elizabeth, who got out of school at 4:00. Rick surely wasn't going to be able to get to her in time. But I could. And I left. In the meantime, Linda and Paul were now studying ol' Mapquest and trying to locate Rick. AND trying to contact him.
Got to Elizabeth's school and she was not where she was supposed to be, either. This was getting old.
4:00 rapidly turned into 4:15 and I called the house just to see if Elizabeth was there, having slipped by me somehow as I sat in the school's parking lot waiting for her. And she had. She was at home. Why? Because she hadn't seen Rick's car, called him and was told "Daddy won't be able to pick you up today so you'll need to find another ride home." Never mind that I was available. And sitting in that parking lot.
I met Elizabeth at home and explained that we had an emergency on our hands. Not only was my packing going to have to wait... but her dad was AWOL. Again. This was certainly not the first time. I pray it's the last though.
While hooking up with Elizabeth, Linda managed to pinpoint Rick. And to contact him. He was in such a remote area that he didn't even have cell service for a good piece of his trip to WalMart.
Know where he was? Besides Pattonville? On the border of Oklahoma, Louisiana, Arkansas and the furthest, most northeast section of Texas. Who knew there was a "4 corners" up there as well? And who knew that Rick's journey to WalMart would take him to such an obscure location? And who knew that my packing wasn't going to get done that Friday night?
The plan was in place. Rick was to STOP. Stop right where he was. QUIT driving. Yes, Rick, quit!!! Turn off the engine and stop going further and further away from home.
You may be wondering how this all happened... and for that you'll need to know that Rick is a very good driver. Never had a ticket, never will. Never does anything wrong on the road. And that alone will explain why he didn't get off that obscure road and turn around. He couldn't. If he couldn't get over in time, or stop with a reasonable amount of braking time, then he just wouldn't. And he didn't. Those old dirt roads he was driving on just didn't look safe to turn around on. He didn't want a ticket, you know. And he kept on going. And going. And I was wishing his energizer battery would bring him to a halt. But you know those energizer bunnies...
But Linda reached him and convinced him to turn in to the next available driveway and STOP!!! And he did. He found a "Cavender's Boot City" and parked. Well, after he saw a Shell gas station that had a mini mart attached to it first. A sandwich and some chips sounded good to him after that long, exhausting trek to WalMart. But Cavender's was his final destination that evening... which is especially funny because he'd been wanting to visit a Cavender's for the last three months. They were having a sale three months ago and Rick was dying for some 'real' cowboy clothes. Too bad he had made his purchase at the Cavender's near our house on Wednesday. He could've saved some time by waiting and shopping in Pattonville.
So Elizabeth and I were underway. We reached Bonham, Texas around 5:30 and my brother in law, Paul, informed us we were now halfway to Rick. But we really weren't. Those roads were desolate. Those roads were hard to travel. And those roads were confusing. And darkness was setting in.
By 8:00, we found Rick. Happily sitting in his car and munching on the last of his chips. And wondering what took us so long. I swear I'm gonna kill him someday.
My car had 115 miles on it - on this little jaunt to nearby Arkansas. Rick's had 210. Obviously Rick took a more scenic route. Rick had no clue though. All he could tell us is that he couldn't find WalMart and it's all the 121's fault. Oh, the 121 is a freeway near our house. The 121 was truly to blame because how dare it have two different onramps to it on Coit Road... I mean, it couldn't have been Rick's fault for getting on the wrong onramp now, could it? How could he have known that both onramps wouldn't take him to his beloved WalMart?
We found Rick, we traveled back towards home (me in the lead car, Elizabeth following behind in Rick's) and pointed out all of the WalMarts that we passed along the way.
"Uh, Rick? Couldn't you have stopped at THAT WalMart?"
"Didn't see it."
No, you didn't. You couldn't have. You were too busy looking for offramps on those weird freeways you got yourself on. But at least I know where the 271 and the 83 are now. But ask me if I care...
And just for the record, there was no packing done on Friday night. There was some sleeping done, though.