Monday, August 19, 2013

Stormclouds and Rainbows

Today I have a story to tell. See this picture? I took it at a rest stop in Wyoming.

But this is more than just a picture. It is a visual representation of the first twelve hours of my road trip.

See, my husband needed to study for a big test, so my three kids and I (ages 9, 6, and 4) headed off on a 16-hour drive. On our own.

I did all the packing, and I thought of everything. I pretty much packed the kitchen sink AND the bathroom sink. Alas, about four hours into the trip, I realized the one thing I forgot . . .

My wallet!

Yup. It would have been better to have forgotten ANYTHING else. I couldn't just drive back because I had less than a half tank by then. My husband couldn't just wire me some money to the closest town because you have to have picture ID to pick it up. He could mail my wallet to my destination, but what good would that do me when I had no way to drive the remaining 700 miles of my trip?

I was pretty much a mess, but I had kids in the car, so I had to pretend like I was calm and in control. (Which lasted . . . oh, not very long: "STOP WHINING! I have no money, no way to go home, I need to THINK!! And I can't do that with you kids fighting over who touched who!")

To give him credit, my awesome husband was ready to jump in the car and drive the 4 hours to meet us (EIGHT HOURS ROUND TRIP!!!). I just didn't like that option.*

I called my credit card company and they said they couldn't do anything from there. BUT, if I could convince a cashier to call them, they could approve a card-less transaction because I could prove my identity over the phone. I stopped at four different gas stations. At each one I politely explained my plight and asked if they could help, but they all refused. By the fifth gas station I was in tears. Funny how they were suddenly willing to at least try.

Hurray! I filled the tank, but it was not enough to get to my destination. So next,  I called home to tell them the situation. Amazingly, my sister was leaving that minute on a work trip heading my direction. She would pass me some time in Wyoming and wanted to meet in Laramie. I calculated distances, and realized gas-wise, it would be pretty tight, BUT, from Laramie, one tank of gas could get me to my destination. Maybe. Barely.

At Cheyenne, I debated. I was low on gas. But my car told me I could go 70 miles and Laramie was only 50 miles away . . .


Yeah. So I bit my nails, white-knuckled the steering wheel, and ignored that sick feeling in my stomach until I finally got to the top of the mountain pass. Which is when my car said I could go ZERO miles. But I was at the top of a mountain pass! It was downhill the whole way! And don't those mileage counters have a little padding built in?

Well, if my kids hadn't been with me, I might have tried it. Instead, I stopped at the Lincoln-head rest stop right there at the top:

Happily, my sister knew right where it was because of good old Mr. Lincoln there. She brought me a gas can and loaned me enough money to get me to my destination. It was like the picture. The moment the dark stormy clouds start to disperse and the sunshine breaks through, bringing with it a rainbow and a promise of better times.

It's kind of a good analogy for all sorts of things. Life. Writing. Overcoming obstacles. Alas, we have to face hard things all the time. Things that seem impossible to overcome . . . when the easiest or most obvious solutions aren't acceptable and you have to really FIGHT for something better. Keep trying even when you've been rejected how many ever times, and feel like it's hopeless.

This trip will forever after be remembered as "The Time I Drove Across Country Without Any Money." And when I think of it, I will smile. Because despite the odds, despite the stress, I did it. It took a lot of help, and a hero (my sister) had to swoop in to save me, but I did it.

And I can do it again. Next time I face insurmountable odds.**

Have you ever overcome insurmountable odds? Tell me about it!

And P.S. If you haven't already, don't forget to enter my giveaway!

*The whole point of the trip was to GIVE HIM TIME, not waste it!!
**Which will not be forgetting my wallet on a cross-country trip, because I will NEVER, EVER do that again. ;)


Dianne K. Salerni said...

Wow, Janet! First of all, I give you credit for attempting a cross-country trip without your husband. Secondly, it is amazing that you managed to solve this problem and keep going! I would have bawled like a baby when I realized the problem, turned around, and driven as close to home as I could get with the gas I had left.

In other words, I would have given up.

And the worst part is, I wouldn't have seen it as giving up. I would have seen it as solving the problem.

There's a lesson in here for me. Thanks, Janet -- and I'm so glad you overcame this and had a wonderful trip!

Old Kitty said...

What adventures! Yikes!!! But you were cool, calm and collected! And you triumphed! Yay! Take care

Theresa Milstein said...

Wow, I never thought of what a mess not having my wallet would create. You are amazing! I'm so glad you made it. You needed that rainbow!

A.L. Sonnichsen said...

You are awesome, Janet. OH MY WORD. (And it tickles me that I was one of the first to hear this story. :D)

Faith E. Hough said...

I feel terrible to be laughing now, but you have such skill at showcasing the humor in a situation! I AM really glad that you made it safely and didn't encounter any major disasters. (And yay for superhero sisters!)

I Write for Apples said...

As soon as I read the line about your wallet I said, "OH NO."

I was so cheering for you guys to reach your destination and I'm glad to see you did. :)

Unknown said...

Wow! I think I would have been in tears the moment I realized that my wallet was missing. Go you for your ingenuity and for making it to your destination.

Michelle D. Argyle said...

Wow! I'm most surprised that you had to go to FIVE gas stations before someone had enough humanity to even try to help you. I was once filling up at a gas stations and gave a woman some cash because she looked so terribly desperate and sad and told me she just needed a few dollars to make it a few more miles. I hope I helped her out. I am so, so glad you got to your destination okay. What an experience to remember! :)

Marcia said...

Oh, I'm so glad this worked out as well as it did. How awful it must feel to think "I PLANNED THIS TRIP SO VERY THOROUGHLY" and STILL it wasn't enough. You got some real-life practice in putting a character in a tight spot and getting her out. :)

Suzi said...

Wow. You handled that pretty well. I've never taken a trip that long with my kids (alone), and would much prefer to have my husband with. Chances of both of us leaving our wallets is very small. :)

Elizabeth Varadan, Author said...

What an incredible adventure! I'm so glad everything turned out okay. This, I am sure, will become a famous family legend, oft-told. Good for you for working it out.

Connie Arnold said...

Wow, you already had me impressed driving so far with three kids on your own and one only 4! What an experience! I'm sure you will never forget it, and the kids probably had no clue of what you went through. No, I don't think I've ever overcome quite such insurmountable odds!

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Janet .. all I can say is so well done and thank goodness the odds go with us. Bet the kids were hairy scary ... and then collapsed in a heap of relief.

Let alone you.. so pleased all turned out well and you may well leave the kitchen sink behind in future, but you won't leave your wallet ...

Relax for a day or two .. cheers Hilary