I never claimed to be clever. My dear friend Mr Woo doesn't call me Jellyhead for nothin'. It's just that sometimes I go months without doing something majorly stupid, and I convince myself I'm just middle-of-the road silly.
I went to the shops today on an present-buying errand. Gift purchased, I left the shopping mall to go fetch my daughter from school. I headed for where I recalled having parked my car. No car.
After wandering that parking level for awhile, I decided to try the next level up. Feeling a lot like Jerry Seinfeld, except without any friends, I strode anxiously around the top car park. No car. I began to feel panicky. Time was ticking away, and even if I found the car immediately, I was going to be late to collect Laura. I tried phoning the mobile of another school mother, to see if she could help. No answer.
Now sweating in the heat, and with tears prickling at the corners of my eyes, I headed down to a lower level. Except, in my haste, I went down three levels, effectively skipping the actual car park where my abandoned car lay waiting. Half running, I scanned the basement car park as I jogged. No car. By now the tears were leaking out my eyes and running down my cheeks. I finally came to my senses and phoned my best friend, Belly, who lives not far from Laura's school. Belly promised to go meet my daughter, and to let her know that she wasn't forgotten - that she merely has a hare-brained mother.
With shaking voice and tear-stained face, I stopped an elegantly-dressed woman to ask her if she knew where there was a taxi rank. Kindly, and without further questioning, the lady explained how to find a cab. Running now through the shopping centre, I ignored the heads turning my way and prayed that none of these spectators were patients of mine. If any were, they probably wouldn't be for long. I wasn't a sight to inspire confidence - professional or otherwise.
It's a worry when your doctor can't find their own car, cries about it, and then runs erratically through a public place.
I found the cab rank. There were seven people waiting ahead of me. With quavery voice, I asked the elderly couple in front of me if they minded if I jumped ahead of them in the queue. The husband calmly suggested I take the same cab as they did - after all, they were going to the same suburb. I gave up on my queue-jumping plan, and stood meekly next to the very short old couple. I hoped fervently that Belly had managed to wrangle her two small children into the car, find the school gate, find a park, and meet my daughter before she became upset.
A taxi-driver leapt out of the next taxi, and spoke with the passengers ahead of me. The waiting crowd frowned, and the driver spoke with the old couple ahead of me. The small, round old man turned around. "He says he's not going to take passengers for any long distance trips," the old man informed me. "These others want the airport. You go with him".
With grateful thanks, I leapt into the cab, and we drove to Laura's school. My daughter stood chatting happily with Belly and Belly's daughters. I burst into fresh tears, before quickly controlling myself again. Laura looked puzzled. She tells me she's only ever seen me cry once before. She told me she'd been 'not one bit' worried when she'd had to wait back with the 'uncollected' children. "I knew you'd come, Mum", she soothed.
I thanked Belly for saving the day. Fatty came home and we drove to the car park. We found the car. We came back home at last. I apologised profusely. And Fatty neither laughed nor grumbled, but instead went and picked up pizza for dinner. The man's a keeper.
As you can tell, I'm feeling embarrassed and dopey. So if you have any stories you'd like to share involving lost cars, crying for no good reason or neglecting to care for your offspring properly...... this is the place to do it. Ready, steady, go!