Early this afternoon, just after our children returned to day camp from lunch break, my dear friend and I decided to make a quick, item-specific run to the big discount art store about twenty minutes away. Quick shopping accomplished, we had enough time to get back to camp for the 3 p.m. pick up.
On the way home I got pulled over at a police checkpoint: my inspection sticker had lapsed.
It gets better.
One of the two fresh-faced and slim officers approached my car window, hand near gun (I found this odd; didn’t he see us? Two middle-aged, friendly, average looking gals drinking watery iced coffee looking more like “soccer mom” than “sock it to ya.”), and after looking over his sunglasses at the windshield stickers he asked for my license. I handed it over. It took another five minutes to locate my registration and insurance—both outdated, and worse, glaring statements of my lack of organizational skills when it comes to paperwork and my car.
I’ll admit it: the new insurance card literally arrived three days ago. It’s current and paid and everything is in good order—except that was still sitting on my kitchen table, not in my glove compartment. The yellow registration card was two years old, but the car is mine. Telling the officer that seemed to give me and my car some validation, despite the invalid date. It was clear I was sloppy with my car paperwork—and he was not impressed.
So, my friend and I waited for “Officer Slim” to verify everything while we sat in the hot mid-day roadside sun.
Twenty minutes later, I was issued two summonses and my license was taken away; they gave me a pink receipt among all the new paperwork handed through my window.
One summons for lapsed inspection; the other was for maybe you did not answer a previous summons? Ok, Officer, that makes it clear for me, thanks. (No, I did not say that, but I thought it with a smile.)
He said he didn’t know “why,” only that my license had been suspended months ago and that I should not have been driving at all! Good grief. I had no idea. He instructed me on how to get my license back and bade us a nice day while we swapped seats.
What a delightful surprise—I had no idea how comfortable that front passenger seat was! Thank god for my passenger friend: had she not been there today, they would have impounded my car.
Passenger friend’s father picked up the kids from day camp, and plopped them with chips and television in his air conditioned study. And thank goodness for Saint Grandpa.
During the drive back, our friend the police detective ordered me to get my damned car inspected on the way home, so I did. The garage closest to our homes is a block away, though I’d never used them for anything but gasoline up until now. Today they were the logical choice. We left the car with the mechanic and walked to dear friend’s house. Once in her car we set out to finally gather the daycampers and deliver them to their respective homes.
It gets better.
The garage called. My car looked great … except the front brakes needed replacing or I’d be ruining the rotors in less than a week. I told the mechanic my situation (lost my job as a personal assistant to a billionaire in March) and he offered a special deal: parts, labor, and warranty—for less than one hundred bucks. For both front wheels. I agreed.
Just before six o’clock, the mechanic called to say “ready”; dear friend zipped me to the garage once again, from our friend the detective’s house, where we’d been dispatching campers and snacking.
Checkbook in hand, I filled out the expected information and waited for the mechanic to get off the phone with his brother in law.
He asked me to sign the receipt, keep a copy, and when I asked him for the tab, this is what he said:
“You have no bill with me.”
What? (He had me confused with someone else.) I pointed to the receipt and said, “But I haven’t paid you, yet—this is the number, right?”
“No, lady, you have no bill here. It’s been taken care of. You have an angel.”
Wha … no, who? What do you mean? An angel? No, No—I have to pay you … it’s not me it’s—
He backed away and shrugged, “Nope. I dunno, Miss, you have no bill here. No. It was taken care of. You owe me nothing.”
I was so sure he was wrong or pulling my leg or had messed up his paperwork. I could not wrap my brain around what he was telling me. I had no bill? Someone took care of it? I asked him who. He couldn’t say. And he just kept shrugging, smiling and stepping back. There was no other answer from him: I had no bill there.
And I turned away, completely humbled by whomever or whatever paid my bill, and cried into my hands.
“Hey, lady, don do dat heah, ‘cuz I’ll be cryin’ right next to you.”
That made me laugh. He asked the car jockey to back my car out of the garage. And before I got in the mechanic made me promise to bring back my car for any reason because we need to keep you safe, okay?
I agreed, and without a license and less than 200 steps from my driveway, I drove home in tears.
So, that was today.
I still don’t know who paid my bill.