Improbable

When my friend Gloria dated her now-husband, the two of them took turns commuting between her home in Charleston, SC and his place in Atlanta. 

“One weekend, I drove my dad’s car to the airport and parked in a spot out front,” she said. “As the plane descended toward Atlanta, my heart dropped to my stomach—not because I was airsick.”

Consumed with thoughts of seeing her main squeeze, Gloria had forgotten her car keys. Not only were the keys in the car, she’d left them in the ignition—in South Carolina. 

With a heart sicker than sick and a stomach greener than green, Gloria realized she had not turned off the engine. The car was still running—her dad’s car.

I listened to Gloria’s story with eyes wide and thought of our daughter Jordan. A couple of years ago, she left her phone on an airplane in Mendoza, Argentina. We happened to be visiting her.

By the time Jordan missed her phone, the three of us had grabbed our bags, hailed a cab, and were well our way to a reservation she had made for us at a mountaintop spa. (Don’t ever pass on an opportunity to let Jordan guide you to someplace—anyplace.)

In the front seat, Jordan and the cab driver conversed in Spanish, discussing her options. From the backseat, Gary and I offered our input in English.

“We can stop by the airport on our way back. Until then, you are going to have to forget about it,” Gary said.

“Chances are the someone found it has already sold it,” I said. “Just wipe it from your mind. It’s replaceable.”

Gary and I should win the award for most encouraging parents.

Ignoring us—well, the cabbie could not understand us—the driver and Jordan tried to no avail to call the airport from his phone. Crazy, I know, but cell service does not improve the closer one gets to the clouds.

My daughter’s dilemma took me back to a trip I had taken with girlfriends. After dining at an upstairs table in a casual restaurant, we hit the streets for an evening of sight-seeing. 

Thirty minutes later, I reached for my wallet to get cash to pay a sales clerk—cash I’d saved for specifically for the trip. 

No wallet. 

Trust me when I tell you I’m an expert in hearts sicker than sick and stomachs greener than green.

I wish someone had timed my desperate dash back to that restaurant. I jay-ran—not walked— through traffic, zigzagged left and right around people on crowded sidewalks, and nearly took out a few parking meters. 

OK. The parking meters would have taken me out.

Chances are the restaurant hostess pressed “9” for “911” after taking one look at my panic-stricken face as I sprinted through the door and up the stairs. There, on the table for all the world to see, was the first of two miracles: my wallet.

Holding my breath, I opened it to find the second miracle: all cash and cards intact. Whew.

Back in Mendoza, after Jordan, Gary, and I checked into our Airbnb, the young (and handsome) property manager offered to drive our daughter to the airport to inquire about her phone.

In retrospect, I can’t help but wonder if he would have offered to take me had I been the sad victim. Somehow, I doubt it.

But I digress.

Jordan returned with the phone I had been certain she would never see again.

As for Gloria, I don’t know what was more painful: leaving her dad’s car parked and running after boarding her 60-minute flight to Atlanta or calling her dad to tell him what she had done.

When her dad reached the airport, he found his car—parked and still running.

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