There’s no way I’m using Sheraton’s valet parking. It’s embarrassing enough just pulling my paint-peeled 1993 Honda up for ridicule from the young boys asking for the key with their best straight faces. I wave them off, and pull over to the curb to wait for my friend–my forever friend, my maid-of-honor, the Ethel to my Lucy I’m meeting here for her work convention. I text her, “I’m heeerre.”
She emerges from the hotel lobby smiling, we hug, and she does that squinty eye thing that non-verbally poses the question, “Everything all good?” I’m in one piece after my six-hour drive, so it is all good. She takes my bag upstairs while I dump my crappy car in the appropriate second-rate self-parking lot.
In the room, we lay out plans for adventure as I quickly unpack my belongings and move myself in for the weekend. Downstairs, we ask the concierge about whale watching excursions, waffle on booking a trip, then raid the Club Level cookies and hot beverages upstairs before turning in for the night.
6:30 am Sunday. I sit bolt upright, and say, “Let’s do it! Let’s go whale watching.”
She rotates her head around in a foggy little circle, until her neck snaps directly at me. “Well, alright then.” But there aren’t any spots available for today. That doesn’t stop us from bombarding the excursion company’s phone, and buttering up the concierge. We quickly dress and head to the departure dock which is steps away from Sheraton’s back door! We wait for someone to show up, as the sun gains its strength.
Shoot! I left my portable GPS in the car last night after we went to Old Town for Mexican food, and I forgot to tell my friend that the doors must be locked manually. So, I leave our spot at the dock to check if anybody stole the GPS overnight. The passenger side door is unlocked, but hey, hey! The GPS still sits proudly on the control panel. What a stroke of luck! Nobody messes with an old junker, I guess. I push down every lock knob, (apparently a disappearing car accessory in this automated world), and head back to share the good news.
My friend’s squinting because she forgot to pack sunglasses, and I think I have a second pair in the car to loan her. I don’t mind getting my exercise, so I head back to the car, taking a back route to bypass the hotel lobby this time. Luck is on my side. The back way is shorter and easier. I just know we are going to get on a tour today, the way things are going. I hurriedly jab my key into the driver’s side door to get to those sunglasses, but it’s acting tricky as it sometimes does. No worries, the passenger side always works.
I walk to the other side of the car and wiggle and jiggle the key, praying it doesn’t break off in the chamber. That’s when I spot it– inside my car is a lock bar on the steering wheel!!
What gives?! In a matter of ten minutes, someone has installed a lock on my wheel? Why would someone do that?
A very recent negative incident flashes through my brain. I was towed, because I failed to park in an authorized visitor’s parking lot. Is that what’s happening? Grrr. Now I’m mad!
I race back to the dock and withhold my bad news, while she shares some good news. “We got in for 1:00.”
“That’s great,” I say, adding, “and… that gives us enough time to figure out why somebody put a lock bar on my car!”
It’s back to those perky valet boys, ugh. They quickly call for a manager after hearing my unprecedented story. Really? This never happens?? Humph.
A young blond-haired manager comes down within a few minutes and looks as baffled as I am, so I invite him to walk out to the lot to see crazy for himself. My friend comes too, for support, but she also throws in an, “Are you sure?” comment.
It’s just enough to make me question my sanity.
“Well, here it is,” I demonstrate with a wave of my hand, “my car that is receiving second-rate service or discrimination, sir….wait-” Swallow my tongue. “Wait a minute! Where’s the lock bar?? I swear it was here ten minutes ago.” My friend squints her eyes again, and not because of the sun.
Is this a prank? Where are the cameras?
“Hold on. I think I discovered her confusion,” my friend offers to vouch for my ding-battiness in front of the manager.
She directs our attention three vehicles down to a body double for my crapper car, which also happens to be parked next to a big white truck.
“Have a good day sir. And, never mind.”