A to Z Challenge
Day 21: U is for Uptight, unglued and unhappy at the border
“You’re out of gas?” said my daughter.
If I had been more light-hearted person I would have burst out laughing.
We were next in line to go through customs. There were another 10 cars behind us.
They started honking at us and then trying to pull around in front.
I turned the key again. Maybe it would start again. Maybe it just stalled.
It didn’t. I looked at my daughter. She was laughing.
I didn’t know what to do so I jumped out of the car.
I felt the urge to just run, leave the car door open, run into the nearby bush, just leave.
Instead I ran up to the customs officer who was walking towards me looking very stern.
“I’m sorry. I have this rental car because I have a GM recall car,” I said. “I think I ran out of gas.”
“Ah, you have one of those cars. Bummer,” said the customs agent.
“I think I am out of gas. I wasn’t paying attention or the light didn’t go on,” I replied.
“Hmmm. I think you are out of gas,” said the customs officer, after looking at my dashboard.
I felt so dumb, so very dumb.
“It could happen to anyone,” my daughter said.
The custom officer signaled to his colleague and pointing to my car yelled, “Her car is not working. She’s out of gas.”
Two trainees came out to help push. They went to the back of the car while their supervisor pushed by the side of the car.
“Looks like you’re going to the front of the line,” said the officer.
Another officer waited behind to wave the cars away from us.
“Ok, ma’am shift into neutral,” said the custom officer.
“Mom, put it park first, then turn it on,” said my daughter.
I had that urge again to just run from the car.
My daughter laughed as we were pushed through customs and up to the window.
I was embarrassed. Running out of gas is something that should be avoided.
“Anything to declare, ma’am,” asked the agent in the window.
Yes, that I don’t know about the fuel gauge on this rental car; that I hate GM right now for selling me a shitty car that had to be recalled; that I wish I wasn't so uptight and could find this funny; that I am embarrassed; that I am feeling uptight because I haven’t had a morning coffee but also unglued from too little sleep again; that I wish I could just call my non-existent husband or father and have him come to pick me up.
“No officer, I have nothing to declare,” I said.
Our crew finished pushing us through the custom line.
“Look at me just pushing this car with one arm,” he said. “Because I am super strong.”
“Thank you,” was all I could reply, “I don’t know how this happened.”
We came to rest on the no-parking island just outside the garage.
“Ma’am, you are welcome to come and rest inside. Our washrooms are over there. You can get cell phone reception outside if you need to call someone.”
There was that urge again.
“Thank you officer,” I said.
“I’m very embarrassed,” I mumbled.
“Ah, mom, it could happen to anyone.”
“Those new gauges are really different from the old ones,” said the officer behind the counter.
I tried not to scream when I realized my automobile club card was not in my wallet. It was on the desk back home. I tried calling the rental agency. When my lousy cell phone cut off in the middle of the agent reading me the number for roadside assistant, I started to dissolve.
“Mom, would you like me to handle the phone call?” asked my daughter.
Gratitude flooded through my veins. “Yes, please,” I said.
“If could have happened right on the highway, Mom. It's better here. It would have been even better at a gas station with a Tim Hortons,” said my daughter. “You didn’t notice any of the lights blinking. It could happen to anyone.”
After the call was made and the gas on its way, my beautiful daughter turned to me.
“Hey – let’s go play candy crush in the car. No one is going to believe what I did on my spring break. No one. This has been the best.”