It was one of those days that being a single parent hurts.
It was 7:20: Stephanie had an exam at 8. I was about to take Michelle to school. The older headed out the door in a rush to meet a friend for some final cramming.
7:21 AM: “Dad, my car won’t start! HELP!”
Indeed, we had a dead battery. I was buttoning my white, starched, dress shirt but my flannels and bedroom shoes were still on my bottom half. I grabbed my keys knowing I’d be late to work.
7:22 AM: I texted my co-worker informing her of my likely tardiness.
7:25.15 AM: The gas is nearly out indicator light came on.
7:25.30.16 AM: I cursed.
7:36 AM: Stephanie jumped out of the car rushing to her exam.
Me: “Can you find a ride home from school?”
Me: “If so, pick your sister up at 3:15, assuming I get the car started. If not, hang tight. I’ll pick you up at some point before bedtime!”
7:40 AM: Me: “Michelle. Someone will pick you up after school today. Keep your phone on. If Stephanie or I can’t get there by 3:30, go to Panera.”
Michelle: “I don’t have any money.”
Me: “Neither do I – check the ashtray.”
Michelle: “There’s only $1.63.”
Me: “Give them our home phone number, I think we have enough Panera points for a free pastry. Drink water if you can’t find another quarter. I think drink is like $2.”
Michelle: “What can you get as a free pastry?”
Me: “I think anything in the glass case. Pick the most expensive thing.”
Michelle: “What if I don’t like it?”
Me: “Get it anyway. We want to maximize our purchasing power.”
7:56 AM: Dropped Michelle at school.
7:59 AM: Arrived at the gas station.
8:01 AM: Man in a pickup truck eyeballed my choice of clothing.
Get at me dude!
8:30 AM: I open the hood on Stephanie’s car, a Mini-Cooper.
8:47: I finally find the battery. It is hidden in the back corner of the engine, in a small black plastic case. What the heck???
8:35 AM: Jump start; car starts.
10:12 AM: My cell phone rings, I’m at work, it’s my neighbor.
Me: “Charlie, what’s up? Is everything OK?”
Charlie: “Well, your house alarm is going off. I have the police here. I think your housekeeper set it off.”
Me: “Officer. She is my housekeeper. I was supposed to leave the alarm off. You see, the battery died, I had to get gas in my pajamas with my dress shirt on, my kid was gonna have to go to Panera unsupervised…”
Officer: “Mr. Ham. Just go back to work. It’s all good.”
Me: “Thank you sir.”