I had to go to the doctor’s office the day before Thanksgiving. My finger was infected. I was lucky to get an appointment. I had eleven people coming for dinner the next day. I had no sitter and no luck of getting one, and no local relatives, so I loaded the three kids in the car. They would have to come with me. The ten year old could watch the two year old in the waiting room, and the seven year old would be fine with his sisters.
We drove to San Ramon Regional Hospital and turned left to go to the medical building furthest away, in the back.
In the lobby, the two year old broke away from me and headed into the elevator unaccompanied. I grabbed for her hand, thereby releasing the car keys in mine. I watched in horror as they slid across the floor, disappearing into the black space between the floor and the elevator.
“My keys!” I said.
To the mini van, to the house, to everything.
The receptionist shrugged her shoulders.
The nurse shook her head.
The doctor had five minutes and didn’t want to discuss my situation. The whole office was shutting down for the holiday weekend. I was his last appointment.
On my way out with prescription in hand, the office manager said she’d called the maintenance guy, who assured her my keys would spend the long holiday weekend at the bottom of the elevator shaft.
“Call back on Monday,” she said.
My son was pulling on my sore finger – he was hungry. The two year old’s aroma was advertising her need of a diaper change, and of course, the diapers were locked in the car, with the car key in the basement.
The medical buildings and hospital sat up on a hill away from civilization. There was nowhere to walk to, plus the stroller was in the car.
“Call Annie’s mom,” the nine year old suggested.
Annie was her best friend.
“I might be able to come at 4:00,” Annie’s mom said.
It was noon.
I called another friend. She was busy getting ready for Thanksgiving dinner and couldn’t possibly help me out.
This was before Uber and Lyft. Yes, there were taxis, but I was clueless and phoneless except for the pay phone, and I had three hungry kids, one with poop in her pants, and a throbbing finger.
I used my last quarter to call Janet. Yes, she was cooking Thanksgiving dinner. Yes, she would come and get us.
My guardian angel.
I thanked Janet a dozen times on the way home, especially since she had to smell the two year old.
“How can you cook a day early?’ I asked her. “I don’t have room in my fridge to do that.”
“Ziploc bags,” she said. “I can squeeze the whole dinner in my fridge if it’s all in Ziploc bags. Then on Thanksgiving, it’s not such a rush, and I can enjoy the day more.”
“What a great idea.”
I waved good-bye to the only real friend I’d called that day. She’d dropped what she was doing to bail me out of my predicament.
Snce I had hidden a house key under a flower pot, we were able to get inside. The two year old got a fresh diaper, the three kids got fed, and I got my keys back on Monday, just like the maintenance man said I would. I think Janet even took me past the drug store to get my antibiotics so I wouldn’t have to drag the kids out again.
It was a tiny disaster on the scale of disasters. But on the eve of Thanksgiving, it seemed like one more thing to stress out an already stressed-out mom. Janet must’ve heard that in my voice, because she came to the rescue with a smile on her face.
Couldda Wouldda Shouldda
If I would’ve taken a taxi, I never would’ve learned the Ziploc bag secret, which has helped with many a holiday meal.