The wind was really gusting when I pulled off the interstate at a gas station to fill up my tank on my way to an out-of-state speaking event recently. I was dressed in my usual comfy leggings and a long tunic, which, unfortunately, acted like a huge mainsail and inflated almost instantly the moment I exited the car, literally sweeping me off my feet.
I grabbed the hem of my tunic in a panic to avoid flashing innocent bystanders. My hair flew around my head like the snaky locks of Medusa caught in a windstorm created by a ticked off Mighty Thor. (I swear to you that not a week goes by without someone comparing my curly locks to Medusa’s coif. This is not exactly a compliment. Do you remember her story? That wench was scary.) Mythology metaphors aside, the wind was epic.
While I tried to keep my clothes on without spilling gas, the credit card I’d just scanned flew out of my hand and started rolling, skipping, and cavorting its bad boy self away from me at a startling rate. I gave chase. This was a highly entertaining sight judging by the ear-to-ear grin on the face of the man filling up his tank in the wind tunnel next to me. I lost a few precious seconds giving him the evil eye, but he wasn’t fazed. He just shook his head, laughed out loud, and went right on with his business—nary an offer to help retrieve my plastic.
Every time I got close to my fleeing card, reached down to snag it with my fingertips or stomp it flat with my adorable new Kate Spade flats, another big gust whipped by, and the card danced further and further away from me. I swear I could hear it laughing in the wind.
I turned back to my gas tank in disgust, sealed the sucker up, and returned to the great credit card pursuit. Unfortunately, my credit card was no longer visible on the horizon. It was gone. Outa here. Nowhere to be found. I made eye contact with the hero still filling up his ridiculous, oversized Hummer (no big surprise there, right?) to see if he’d seen anything. He shrugged. Yes, indeed. That man was some woman’s grand prize.
I began walking the parking lot methodically, searching in earnest. I no longer felt the least bit playful. Fifteen minutes later, I was ready to scream and take out my frustration on a giant bag of peanut M&Ms. A quick glance at the station revealed three heads peering out at me in fascination. Clearly, I’d been entertaining the afternoon shift for quite a while with my credit card drama. Marching to the storefront, I tugged hard on the door, felt it catch and fall open dramatically in the wind, and I headed in with a full head of steam.
“I need some help finding my credit card, please,” I announced in no uncertain terms.
“Did you check the card slot?” one helpful worker asked, “People leave them in there all the time.”
“I watched it blow away,” I explained.
“Why’d you do that?” she asked, baffled.
“No telling where it is by now,” another employee muttered.
“Didja check your purse?” the next bright bulb asked.
“Here,” I said, slapping my bag on the counter. “I already looked. You double-check me while I look outside again.”
“You want me to go through your purse, lady?” the attendant asked, clearly scandalized.
“Yes. You look honest, and I’m in a hurry,” I replied.
Another worker busy stacking decided on some personal initiative:
“I’ll help you look outside,” she volunteered.
So that’s what we did. Step by step, we searched the tall weeds in the vacant lot next to the gas station. We looked like people frantically searching for Easter eggs or CSI bodies.
Eventually, the employee-with-a-little-something-on-the-ball held up a small plastic rectangle and shouted downwind:
“Are you Mrs. Thompson?” she asked.
“Yes, indeed! Thank you so much!” I replied.
A few seconds passed as she mulled over my identity confirmation. Then a light bulb went off over her head. I watched it happen.
“Do you write funny books?”
“I’ve read two of your books!”
“Can you wait here for a few minutes while I go home and get my books? You can autograph ‘em for me,” she asked.
“Well . . . I’m already a little behind schedule, but . . . ”
We did a deal. I gave her signed cards for her books. I keep a supply of those in my purse. She was happy. I was more than ready to hit the highway.
Life lesson: Book fans are everywhere! Hallelujah!