You know me well enough by now to know that there’s no way I could make this story up…welcome to my life!
Not too long ago I found myself running ahead of schedule by 15 minutes, so I decided to take my mini-van to a car wash in Englewood where they wash, vacuum and Windex your car in under 10 minutes while you wait outside. As I handed the man my keys I asked if he could pay special attention to collage of 4-Piece Chicken Nugget Happy Meal fingerprints that graffitied the interior windows.
As my van slid off the track of the car wash I noted that I had 9 minutes to pick up the kids from school. No Problem. Five men descended upon my white Dodge Caravan with their dollar-store "Sham-Wow's" and went to work making my van sparkle. The man sitting in the driver's seat jumped out, and gave my window one last swipe. I tipped him, jumped into my car, and sped off to get the kids.
As I drove down the street I heard a strange noise coming from the rear of the van. I glanced in my rearview mirror and saw a man climbing out of my mini-van trunk and coming towards me with a bottle of Windex and a roll of paper towels in his hands. I screamed bloody murder; he screamed louder. I stopped short, causing him to fall and come sliding towards me through the space between the roomy bucket seats. At that exact moment an Englewood cop was driving past me and heard my scream. He put his car in reverse, rolled up to my open window and asked, "Lady, are you all right?"
Now, I'm pretty sure that the man in my car was Mexican, but I wasn't sure if he was documented so I leaned down and whispered to him, "Don't say anything! Just keep quiet and stay down!" which only served to terrify him, but I didn't want the cop to see him and check him for his working papers. I assured the cop I was fine and that a bee was in the car. Satisfied, he drove off.
As I calmed down it occurred to me that this poor man awoke this morning intending only to put in a full day of work; he never expected to be kidnapped (intentionally or not) by some rabid stressed-out mother desperately in need of Xanax. However, my sympathy quickly turned to annoyance when I saw that I had only five minutes to get to the school before the kids were sent to the Main Office to wait. If I took the Mexican with me, I could still make it. What's the proper protocol for unintended kidnapping? Would he like a break in his day? (Don't judge me--crazy thoughts enter the crazed mom trying to beat the clock and fit everything she needs to do into her day!) This poor man, having limited English, was near tears saying, "Lady, Lady, No Lady..." To put this poor man at ease, I employed my best Dora and Diego Spanish skills and essentially sung to him, "Come vamanos, everybody let's go…" His look of terror became mixed with panic as his breathing became labored and rivulets of sweat poured from his forehead. Frankly, I don't blame him. So I decided to return my pequito Mexican amigo to his trabajo.
I drove around the block and delivered him safely back to the car wash where his friends stood with arms crossed, clearly worried. I parked the car, opened the automatic side door, and out he jumped to the cheers of his friends, "Juan! Como esta??" I profusely apologized to all of them, most especially to Juan, and gave him $5 dollars for his trouble. He kindly placed the $5 back into my hand and whispered, "Vamanos."
The moral of the story--when you get your car washed, check your trunk for Mexicans before you drive away, and know that it's okay if your kids have to wait in the Main Office for you to pick them up.
Next Week: A Father’s Story