I was put slightly off-stride when The Boy called at 4:50 though, from Mrs. Fetched’s phone, wondering when I’d be home: my thought was, can’t she make her own call from her own phone? I had just slapped down the last piece of a major rewrite of a chapter, for a firmware manual at work, so I assured him I was just a couple steps from being out the door. I did have to throw the completed PDF in the approval tool, but that took about ten minutes. Packing up for the day took another ten, and I was off. Traffic on the freeway was a little bumpy; but GA141 now has two lanes open going both ways, all the way, and that knocked a good ten minutes off a 1-hour commute. At 6:02, I was on the last leg, about three miles away, and my phone went off again.
“Three minutes out,” I said. It was as good a substitute for “hello” as anything, especially since I knew what (s)he wanted.
“Okay, see you shortly.”
Before I was even out of the car, The Boy was crossing the driveway with Mason in the portable car seat. “We’re going to the tree lighting,” he said by way of greeting. “Then we got to go to T-Mobile and get my phone straightened out.” Aha, mystery solved. It wasn’t Mrs. Fetched poking him to call me, he was anxious all by himself. I’d planned to pocket the key and “forget” I had it, but it wasn’t that important. If he wanted to go places, he’d have to put gas in the car. No biggie.
Meanwhile, Mrs. Fetched was in the usual “out the door” tizzy. Skyler was at the house, and Big V was supposed to have picked him up already, but Mrs. Fetched had made arrangements to drop him off at her mom’s. Big V called and wanted me to come toward the retail and meet her, which was out of the way for us (not like that concerns Big V), but we told her where Skyler would be and that’s how it was. As always with these weeknight-evening concerts, time was a little tight for us.
I’ve mentioned before, Mrs. Fetched isn’t huge on planning ahead. “Living in the moment” is supposed to be a virtue, but can be annoying to everyone around when carried to an extreme. So we jump in her car, and I see it too is low on gas: not enough to get to Reinhardt, but plenty to get to several gas stations along the way. On the advice of Daughter Dearest, we passed by the first station (Chevron) since the second (Citgo) was 10 cents/gal cheaper. I got our gas and jumped back in the car —
Nothing. Not even a click. “What’s wrong?” she asked.
“Looks like a dead battery.” Fortunately, she does have jumper cables. A guy in an Explorer (which looked like it spent much of its life off-pavement) gave us a few minutes to get restarted, and away we went. Suddenly, Mrs. Fetched saw some virtue in making a plan: 1) Get to the performing arts center, and back into a parking spot near a streetlight. 2) Afterwards, take the battery out (Mrs. Fetched had a set of tools in the truck, ironically for Daughter Dearest’s car) and ride with DD to get something to eat. 3) Swing by Mal*Wart in Canton and get a new battery (Canton pretty much rolls up the sidewalks at 8, and Mal*Wart has the whole commercial scene to itself most evenings). 4) Come back and put the battery in, go home. It made me feel better that she wasn’t insisting on winging it, even if the old saw no plan survives first contact with the enemy holds true. In this case, things took a big left turn after step 1.
We went inside, got through the line… and there were two old bats in our seats. Mrs. Fetched’s eyes aren’t all that great lately, so I double-checked the row and seat. Yup, those were our seats, and they weren’t even looking at us. Mrs. Fetched decided to get an usher, who looked at our tickets. “These are for tomorrow night,” she said.
“What?” she wasn’t exactly prepared for that. Needless to say, I wasn’t terribly thrilled about the situation. They reprinted our tickets and we went back out into the chilly night.
We had to park a long way from the door, so we discussed our next move. “I have a spare set of keys for DD’s car in my purse,” she said. “We can find her car and jump off mine with it, go to Mal*Wart, then meet her for supper after the concert’s over.” This sounded like a pretty good plan — she’s quite capable of making logical plans, it would be nice if she’d do it more often — but in this case she was wrong about the keys. At that point, The Boy called. “We’re almost out of gas, so you need to come get us.”
“We’re all the way to Waleska,” I said. After some back and forth, he whined about how much gas was left. “Just go straight home and you’ll get there, that’s about 30 miles worth of gas.” Of course, he chose to ignore the “go straight home” part, but that came later.
There was a slope where we parked, so I figured we could roll the car off and get going that way — and there were plenty of open spots below, so if it didn’t work we could still get the car out of the way. “I’ll push,” Mrs. Fetched said, “you can drop the clutch faster.” I also stomped the gas as I dropped the clutch, and there was just enough juice in the battery to do the job! We got to Mal*Wart without incident, even getting an open spot near the door as we arrived, got the battery, and (with the usual working around the lack of space that is prevalent in maintaining a Japanese car) put it in. Problem solved, just in time for Daughter Dearest to call. “You guys are still here?”
“We had to get a new battery for the car,” I said. “You want to get some supper? We can come back for you or meet you.”
“We’re still going, won’t be done until like 10. Just go on and we’ll meet tomorrow.” (In other words, the night we actually should have been there.)
We grabbed some chow, and the text messages started arriving before we’d properly finished. Everything was coming from Snippet’s phone, but sometimes it was unclear which one of them was sending. Transcript:
TB/SN: Yup guess what we are out of gas stuck in town
Jam is bring us a gas can
Me: OK, good that you have a can coming. Just got both msgs.
TB/SN: Yeah thanks
Me: The blue car had a dead batt when you called. We had to go to Mal*Wart for a new one. Is Mason OK?
TB/SN: Ha that's what u get for leaving us with a car with no gas and yeah Mason is fine we are at [JW’s] and when we went to leave the car would not start
Me: So I guess you didn't go right home? But I didn't know you would be going anywhere anyway, & even then it's not my job to buy you gas.
TB/SN: Yeah well [JW] ask if we could stop bye and thank god because if would not of stopped we would of run out of gas in the middle of no where at lease w
e were somewhere and they live right inside of town so we didn't go out of our way to see them
There was more… Snippet had told me earlier in the week that she was getting paid Thursday, so I wondered why she didn’t have gas money herself. Turned out she got paid early last week because of Thanksgiving and she actually gets this week’s check this afternoon. oooooops But we got home, they got home, they ate our leftovers, they put Mason to bed. Just another cRaZy evening at the free-range insane asylum.
This morning, Snippet was whining about her paycheck not being enough to cover her bills — welcome to my world. “What kind of job can I get to make more money?” she asked me.
“I dunno,” I said. “Stripper?”