Okay mom, here it is. The following is a true story…
My husband (the handyperson of the house) and I went to our local Home Depot one hot summer day to purchase metal shelving to help turn a small closet into a pantry in our new house. With the help of my mom, we were able to go without our kids so we could discuss all our options to avoid over-buying materials. This way, we would not have to go back to make any returns. We found the perfect measurments in shelves, supports and railing. We would have to do some cutting but would be left with minimal waste.
I can’t remember why but, as we were loading up the truck, I asked if he wanted me to drive. I guess since he was going to do all the handy work, it was the least I could do. With the tailgate down to allow room for the 2 long rails, he was sure to tell me, “Don’t drive crazy. The tailgate is open.”
“Duh,” I said, to myself of course. As we stopped at the stoplight outside the HD parking lot, we both looked back to see if I had managed to drive 20 feet without losing the cargo. They were still there.
I remember driving up to the stop light and seeing a bunch of high school boys with signs for a JV football fundraising carwash. I remember thinking how they had to compete with the cheerleaders about four blocks away who were all in their swimsuits and bikinis. But the boys had their own gimmick going on. There was one tall boy wearing a hot dog costume and holding one of the signs. This poor kid in the hot dog costume had a face drenched in sweat. If I needed a car wash, feeling sorry for him would have been enough for me to choose them.
When the light turned green, I slowly let off the clutch and tried to hit the gas in that just perfect fashion to avoid freaking my husband out. You would think I was taking a flat file to the frame of his mountain bike when I rev a little more than I release. Maybe I should never offer to drive the truck. It’s a hot topic in our relationship…
Anyhow, two right turns, one left turn, and 5 minutes later, we arrived at home. My husband immediately went to the tailgate to inspect our purchases. Right away he said, “We lost them.” He’s always joking like that. “No we didn’t,” I said in that ‘you’re kidding, but if you’re not kidding I’m actually in denial’ kind of way.
“Yup. You weren’t careful,” he decided. Nevermind that they weren’t strapped down to begin with. Both rails were gone. Whether it was my fault or not, the question at hand was: Where the hell did I lose them?
Never in the mood to defend myself, I jumped back in the truck to go back and retrace my path. If I didn’t find it, I was going to have to suck up the twenty dollars and deal with another “Remember that one time…”. Not one that could out-do the Snakey Baken event, but one that would set me back enough.
So, I’m driving a manual truck, going as slow as I can without annoying Saturday afternoon traffic, and scanning the other side of the road from which I came up. Now, these rails are long and white. They shouldn’t be too hard to see, right? Well, two left turns, one right turn, and 8 minutes later, I was approaching The Home Depot for the second time that day. I scanned the parking lot and realized that maybe, just maybe, a kind, sweet, concerned person might have found them near the parking lot. Maybe they realized some poor idiot had lost them off their truck and surely would be returning to claim them. “Oh please let that idiot be me!” I thought to myself.
I parked the truck and went into The Home Depot and approached the customer service desk with my head hung low. “Any chance someone returned two long white shelf railings found in the parking lot?” I pouted somehow thinking the more pitiful I looked, the greater my chances would be that they were there. The nice lady went behind a shelf to look but, alas, she shook her head and said, “No.”
I fell to the ground in tears, sobbing. “My husband is going to KILL me! Please give me two for free just because you feel sorry for me!”
Okay that last part didn’t happen, but that’s what I wanted to do.
After leaving the store and still desperately scanning the parking lot I decided I was not going to give up just yet. I figured if they fell in the road, some kind soul may have moved them out of the way onto the sidewalk. I had to follow my path once more, but this time it would be on the side of the road I originally was on.
Once again I pulled out of the parking lot of The Home Depot. I came to the same stoplight where we had looked back at the bed of the truck the first time. I looked along the sidewalk and saw nothing. As I waited for eternity for the light to change, I noticed the young JV football fundraisers had moved to other side of the street now. How did I know it was them? The young man with the Hot Dog Costume was marching around like a drum major leading his friends. And you’ll never believe what he was freekin’ marching with. MY FREEKIN’ WHITE RAIL!
I freekin’ kid you not! If you’ve seen the movie GREASE, there’s a marching popsicle on the drive-in movie scene when John Travolta belts out “Sandy”. Why-yi-yi-yi did this guy have one of my rails? And where the hell was the other one?
I rolled down my window and shouted across three lanes. “HEY! Where did you get that?” I half expected them to scatter and run.
The kid innocently pointed toward the corner on my other side. “THAT is MINE!” I gestured pointing first at the rail and then at myself. “Can you bring it over?” I said showing little walkie fingers and pointing from his side of the street to mine.
“Oh, hell yeah!” I said to myself in the car. Seriously, I even said it out loud, I was so happy.
I pulled over to the side of the road and put my emergency lights on. The Hot Dog Kid gave my rail to another kid to run over to me. While waiting for him to cross the street safely, I scanned the landscaping on the corner. You won’t FREEKIN’ believe what I saw next. The other freekin’ rail! Only something was different about this one. It was beat to all hell. It had not survived. Obviously mangled by a vehicle, I cradled it in my arms and gently threw it in the back of the truck. The delivery kid brought me my in-tact rail, I said my gracious Thank-You and hopped back in the truck.
As I drove away that day, I saw in my rear view mirror that the Hot Dog Kid was done for the day. He took off his costume and walked off with his friends. I hoped that the rail made him happy, if even for 20 minutes of his day. He sure looked happy while he was leading his band of friends and sweating up a storm.
As for me, I went back to The Home Depot and purchased a replacement rail. My husband hasn’t given me any grief about it since that day. I think it was just really important that we had that closure about both rails that day.