Friday, August 12, 2011

On Losing a Parking Ticket at the Airport OR Don't Do It! Don't Do It! Don't Do It!

It went like this.  I was tasked to pick up the mother-in-law at the airport.  This was not a problem.  HIM was unexpectedly going out of town on business.  Despite my willingness to tease my MIL, I love her and my daughter, Cressy, was ready for, "GRANNY!!!!!"  And oh, yes, she was ready for, "GRANNY, NOW!!!!!!!"  Furthermore, at the airport, she was all, "WHERE IS GRANNY?  WHY ISN'T SHE HERE YET?  WHY HAVEN'T YOU PRODUCED GRANNY OUT OF YOUR BUTT?"  (Okay, the last part was me again, but this was definitely implied.)
And this was before she even saw Granny.
Incidentally, I had loads of editorial advice on this one.
"Mommy, you didn't draw the teeth."
"Mommy, you didn't draw the tongue."
"Mommy, look at me."  (She was demonstrating
the pose so I could capture the moment more
So Granny appeared.  All was well.  Hugs were exchanged.  Cressy was ecstatic.  "GRANNY IS HERE!  My heart has begun to beat again."  (Okay, me again, but implicit.)  We collected her luggage.  We went down the ramp.  I stopped at the machine to pay the parking ticket before we went out to the car.  I put my debit card away.  I put my receipt away.

Then my parking stub mysteriously vanished.  It fell into the black hole where odd socks, warranties, Blackberry's and good intentions go.  It was so gone that I think it packed a suitcase and got an airplane ticket.  It was gone-diddly-one.

Seriously, on the 100 feet from the machine that took my debit card to the Ford Exploder in the parking lot, the stupid, bleeping parking stub went AWOL.  I loaded up the car with grannies, kids, luggage and purse.  Then I started to dig.  I looked in my pants pockets.  I looked in my purse.  I looked in my pants pockets again.  Granny offered me money, but that was going to be a problem since I didn't have the parking ticket.  I looked in the purse again.  I started taking things out of the purse.  I looked in my wallet.  There was the debit card that I had just used.  There was the receipt that I had just gotten to pay the stupid $4 fee that Dulles charges to grace their doorstep.  (They work under the 'captive audience' stratagem.  If they have to go to the airport to pick up someone or drop off someone, they WILL be charged to park for more than two minutes.  The revenue.  Oy, the revenue.)
There was probably a lot more arm movement involved here.  Also
cursing under my breath.  Also, people will stop and stare if you
suddenly start flinging things out of your purse in the middle
of a parking lot, even at Dulles Airport.  Surprisingly.
I sighed loudly.  Then I began to search all over again.  Pants pockets, front and back.  I searched the purse again.  I looked in the car in case it had fallen out.  Then I looked in the back of the car where the purse had briefly rested while I loaded luggage.  At this point both Cressy and Granny are looking at me with a little bit of alarm.  ("Is Mommy's face supposed to turn that color?"  "I don't know.")  My MIL offered to help me look and we looked again.  Even Cressy helped.  "Is it here, Mommy?"  "Is it there, Mommy?"  "Mommy, did you put it in your shoe?"

Finally.  Finally.  Finally.  I found what I thought was the ticket in the side pocket of the purse.  Cheered, we climbed in, buckled up, and drove up to the exit gate where I would insert the ticket into the machine, and there we would be released from the enforced imprisonment of the airport parking lot.

I put the ticket in the machine.  The machine spit the ticket back out.  It said, 'Not registered.'  I put the ticket back in.  The machine spit the ticket back out.  It said, 'Not registered.'  I shoved the ticket back into the machine with several colorful, four-lettered descriptions of the machine's point of origins.  The machine spit the ticket back out, without colorful epithets.  It said, 'Not registered.'

I stared at the machine and thought about sledge hammers and other methods of subjugation.  Then I looked around and saw that the next booth over was manned by an actual person.  I backed up and got into that lane without killing us, the car, or any other cars.

Then I explained to the clerk what happened.  Here was the rub.  I hadn't really found the right ticket.  I had found some other ticket for something that looked similar.  The original parking stub was still AWOL.

But I did have...THE RECEIPT.

The receipt had the times on it that I had entered and exited.  It had the parking stub's number on it.  It had the receipt that I had paid for the time already on it.  As I explained to the clerk, her expression looked a little odd.  After she said sullenly, "I'll have to see your credit card," I realized that she was working as the credit/cash lane girl for a very good reason.  As long as people were handing her tickets, paying her with cash or a credit/debit card, she was in her element.  But I had driven up and done something wrongity-wrong.  I didn't have the ticket and I was asking for something difficult.  I think the poor clerk began to short circuit.  Very slowly, she ascertained that the debit card number matched the one on the receipt.  In fact, she used her index finger to point at each number.
You'd think I might be exaggerating here, but it ain't by much.
Then she got on the phone and started making very strange noises.  She said, "OH, NO!  OH, NO!"  Then she paused, listened and said, "OH, NO!  OH, NO!"  This went on for quite some time.  I realized belatedly that this was the only credit/cash booth in the exit lane at the airport parking lot at the time.  And there was a line building up behind us.  The guy in the SUV behind me was making faces that indicated that he was highly frustrated or constipated.  Possibly both.  Later, he began to bang his head against the steering wheel.

The girl in the booth kept crying, "OH, NO!  OH, NO!"

I looked at my MIL and said, "We're going to have to stay at the airport forever."

She said, "I'll make a run for it.  You stay and sacrifice yourself."  (No, I didn't say that and she didn't say it, but it was definitely implied.)

The girl in the booth said, "OH, NO!"  Then abruptly she cried, "OH, GOOD!"  If I hadn't been able to see her entire body, I would have thought something funny was going on in the booth.  (I wish I could do the audio on the, "OH, GOOD!" because it was that suggestive.)  She looked at me and then slowly began to click buttons on her keyboard.

Then she was distracted by another clerk who had stuck her head in to give her some official envelope and they discussed something official for a very long, official thirty seconds.  I glanced in the rear view mirror and saw that the man in the SUV behind me was tying a noose to his rear-view mirror.  (No, he wasn't but he was thinking about it.)
I don't really know what the man behind me in the SUV was thinking,
but it wasn't good for me.
I began to wonder if I could ram the gate without having the police department following me home.  Also ramming gates and being in a police chase is not the preferred method to pick up your MIL at the airport for a long, leisurely granny visit.  (Unless I really wanted a quiet stay in jail and possible post-incarceration interviews about the extended police chase.)

I thought the clerk was going to start crying, "OH, NO!" again when she suddenly opened the gate and handed me a receipt.  She looked at me as if shooing me along and said, "It's a copy of the receipt."  At the top it says, 'LOST TICKET.'  So what the eff was all the fuss about?

In conclusion, today when I took my MIL and daughter to the county fairground to enter some artwork and cookies, my MIL was watching me very carefully.  I had the receipt tickets in my hand for the cookies and the art work and I said, "What?"  My MIL said very cannily, "I'm watching what you do with the tickets this time."

Hahaha.  My MIL deserves the kudos.

And for the sake of argument, the parking stub remains missing in action.


bonclyde149150 said...

My favorite part of your blog is the digital drawings. It would take me a long time to choose my favorite drawing.

Carwoo said...

You know, you're the first person to say something about the cartoons. They're fun to do, although they don't always turn out right. Thanks!

bonclyde149150 said...

It amazes me that you haven't have had many people comment on the cartoons considering your blog has over 7k views.

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Brooke Higgins said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
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