Ettie Newlands

My husband’s second-best quality is his sense of direction.

So when he told me, walking around downtown Charleston, that he had no idea how to find our car, it was surreal.

We’d parked on level 4 in a parking garage and had the ticket we were given when we did. But the address on the ticket was not where the parking garage was.

Whether it was the company’s main office or an old location didn’t matter, it was just wrong.

We’d walked up the four flights of stairs expecting to see our car and didn’t.

We’d asked four different people for directions to what must be a different parking garage and we got four different versions of where it was and how to get there.

We found the second garage, which turned out to be the first garage all over again and only Rod Serling knows how that happened.

So, four more flights up and four more flights down later, still no car.

We did this for an hour. An hour of walking around Charleston looking for what seemed like a non-existent parking garage that contained my apparently non-existent car.

We had three options, I told him.

We could go buy another car, which actually made sense to me at that point.

We could wait till everyone went home and our car would be the only one left, which was my facetious attempt at humor.

We could call the police, tell them what street we were on and explain that we were old and lost.

He didn’t like any of those options, so we kept walking and searching and speaking to each other through gritted teeth and finally found the car right where we’d left it.

When we were safely in it, and knowing I needed serious retail therapy, the dear man stopped at a mall on the way home.

I did a little business in Belk and we started for home.

Needed information: our daughter’s name is Tracy.

So, we’re driving home and my husband answers his phone, saying “hello” and “thank you,” and hung up.

He turned to me and said, “That was Tracy. Your phone is at Belk.”

Talk about surreal.

“Both of those statements can be true, but what do they have to do with each other?” I asked him.

See, Tracy was home in Myrtle Beach and we were on the road between Mt. Pleasant and Conway and my brain was still fried from the parking garage experience.

Finally grasping that the saint of a woman at Belk looked in Favorites on my phone and called my daughter, I then went into panic mode.

What if Belk was closed when we got back there? What if the woman decided to keep my phone? What if she died?

Hey, I can go from comatose to meltdown in 30 seconds with absolutely no provocation.

The woman neither kept my phone nor died and it was back in my hands very shortly.

Have I mentioned this was also my husband’s birthday?

When we got home, I went to bed. It was 4:30.

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