My aunt, Tia, was gracious enough to drive me to Dulles airport after my meeting concluded on Tuesday afternoon. She skillfully bypassed all the evening traffic by driving via the Dulles Toll Way, a blocked off, two lane expressway that goes directly from DC to Dulles airport with multiple ways to get on, but no way to get off until you’ve reached the airport. The same toll way exists going the opposite direction, from Dulles to DC. I was contemplating how brilliant the concept of this toll way was when we arrived at the airport a full two hours and fifteen minutes before my flight. I grabbed all my bags, kissed my Tia goodbye, waved to her as she pulled away from the curb, and then sauntered right up to the check-in counter to get my ticket and check my suitcase. Never before was I so early and prepared for a flight, I thought with a smidge of self-satisfaction.
At the counter, I reached for my wallet to get my ID. This is when I realized there was a slight problem: I didn’t have my purse. I had my two carry-on bags and my suitcase, but NO PURSE. At that moment, a clear vision of my purse deserted on the floor mat of the front passenger side of my aunt’s car came to me. Not a problem, I'll just call her.
No I won't. My phone is in my purse along with my wallet. Twit!
I ran out to the curb thinking that she’d see my purse in her car and immediately loop around to drop it off. She'll loop right around and we'll have a good chuckle about this whole silly thing...
Five minutes later, there was still no sign of her. She must not have noticed my purse. Ok. Plan B. Find someone with a cell phone.
I did this. A lovely woman, likely with advanced stage emphysema judging by the way she was lighting each cigarette from the end of the last, gladly handed me her phone after I explained my predicament. This is when I realized there was another slight problem: I didn’t know Tia’s number. Or anyone else’s for that matter. I hadn’t memorized a phone number since I got my cell phone several years ago. Shit! I stared at the number keys on Smokey the Bear’s cell phone, willing someone’s…anyone’s phone number to come to me. In these painfully slow moments seemingly devoid of even the smallest number of successfully firing neurons inside my cranium, I began by trying a number that I thought might be The Brit’s. Didn’t work. Ohhh...wait. He has a different area code. I tried the same number with a different area code. The phone rang. And rang. And went straight to voice mail. On the other end of the phone was The Brit’s recorded voice nonchalantly telling me to leave a message. I called again. This time he picked up. Call Mamacusa and have Mamacusa call Tia to tell Tia to come back to the airport because my purse is still in her car. Tell her to tell Tia I'll wait right where she dropped me off. And with that he was off to do his assigned task.
I sat out by the curb and waited. It was a strange feeling of disconnectedness, being without any money, my ID, or my phone. Minutes crept by. People kept streaming into the airport and all of them seemed to have cell phones and wallets…sometimes multiples of both plainly visible. I stared at them like a starving child in one of those Children’s Fund commercials. Tia was taking a really long time. The wind picked up. It started getting dark. She probably took the toll way all the way back to DC...and with no way to get off, she probably hasn't even turned around yet. Suddenly the toll way didn't seem like such a brilliant concept anymore. I mean, who builds a toll way that you can't get off of, anyway???
After about thirty minutes of waiting, I decided I would politely ask the airport employee who’d been sitting behind me, gabbing loudly into her phone for the last 20 minutes about what a slut Lashonda was for trying to steal her man, if I could use her phone. I explained my predicament to her. She looked up at me completely disinterested and said, “I don’t have anymore free minutes." Riiiiiiight!
I didn’t want to take the chance of going inside to make the call because, with my luck, that was the exact moment Tia would arrive. So I searched for others along the curb who looked like they might be helpful. The problem was, it was the departures area, so everyone who was pulling up to the curb was in a terrible hurry to get inside. Ahh! Over there! Another smoker! (I’d like to take this time to point out that it was the smokers that really came through for me in this difficult time. Thanks guys, I’ll never take you for granted ever again!!)
Smokey the Bear 2 was happy to lend me her phone for as long as her cigarette lasted. I called The Brit. No answer. Called him again. No answer. STB2 took her lips off her cigarette long enough to tell me I should try my cell phone. Why didn’t I think of that??? I dialed my number, more than a bit miffed that I hadn’t come up with that idea myself. No answer. Shit ,I must have left my phone on silent after the conference ended. I tried The Brit’s phone one more time. This time he answered, gave me Tia’s cell number just in case, and assured me that Mamacusa had reached Tia and that she was on her way back.
So I waited, all the while congratulating myself for ascending to the rank of First Class Idiot. And then mumbling to myself about how I was still going to have to sit in economy class anyway.
An hour and ten minutes after she dropped me off, Tia reappeared. I chuckled as she pulled up to the curb. Thank GOODness we’d initially arrived with so much time before my flight, I still had plenty of time to make it. I opened the passenger side door to her car to reach for my purse. This is when I realized there was yet another slight problem: my purse was not there.
It wasn’t in the front side passenger seat area.
Or the back seat passenger area.
Or in the trunk.
(Or on her roof for that matter.)
Turns out, my purse was on Tia’s desk. In her apartment. All the way back over by DC.
Needless to say, I missed my flight last night. After sleeping with my purse duck taped to my person so as not to forget it, I got onto a flight this morning. And though the plane reeked of a strange blend of over-roasted coffee beans and stale cat urine, I was just happy to have made my flight.
I am so wicked smart.