“You backed into your daughter’s car?” Jake from State Farm, asked.
“Yes”. I replied.
“In your driveway?” He continued.
“Did you know that she was home?”
“Yes……yes, I did.”
Wonder what he thinks about that? I might as well just tell the truth…lay it all out on the line. I remember once while sitting in the dentist chair waiting for my mouth to numb, I was able to listen to the conversation in the next room, through the paper thin walls.
“Do you floss regularly, Mrs. Smith?” Dr. Rippy asked.
There was something in his voice, or maybe it was the question itself, that made me think that he already knew the answer to his question. And, he is a dentist. Surely he can look at her teeth and see the evidence of good dental care…or not.
“Oh yes, every day.” She replied.
I didn’t believe her. I didn’t know her. I didn’t know what her teeth looked like and yet, I sat there in the dental chair with saliva beginning to pool on the tingly side of my mouth, casting judgement on this poor woman in the next room.
“Well,” Dr. Rippy continued, “There seems to be a fair amount of plaque between your teeth so I will have Rita come in and show you what areas you need to pay closer attention to.”
Ha! I was right. I thought to myself. And, I was thinking of that story as I sat here with Jake on the other end of the line. No use pretending or going into a long drawn out story in an effort to make myself look better.
I did it. I backed into my daughter’s car. I knew that she was home. I’d said goodbye to her just ten seconds ago. I admit it. I am stupid. There—what are you gonna say to that, Jake from State Farm?
“Huh?” He asked breaking the silence. “That is unusual.”
“It was a rather chaotic morning.” I said.
I could tell that he was waiting for some sort of elaboration so I continued.
“My daughter is in nursing school. She had just finished her clinical at the hospital. She had the 7 pm to 7 am shift and had just walked in the door as I was preparing to leave for work.” I said.
“Oh, I see.” He said. “I can see how that might happen.”
What I didn’t tell him was how upset my daughter, Olivia, was that morning. She walked through the door looking as if she had killed a patient (her greatest fear).
“What in the world is the matter?” I asked.
“I can’t do it, Mom.” She said just as the dam burst. Heaves and sobs erupted, flowing snot and tears.
“You can’t do what?” I asked. This was her very last semester before graduation from nursing school. We’ve paid for preschool, kindergarten, grades one thru twelve and four and one half years of college…let’s see, that is eighteen and one half years’ worth of tuition. Even I am shocked at my investment as I calculate the years in my head. She most certainly can do it, whatever it is, I think.
“I can’t sleep during the day.” She said. “I’ve tried and tried. But, I’ve got three more shifts at night and daytime classes. I am just so tired. I cannot sleep and I don’t know what to do.”
She was unconsolable.
What a relief. She’s only referring to sleep. And, really—that’s not my problem. Like her dad, she picked a medical profession. I could never do that. I admire them both for their contributions but I am an angry person without my sleep. So, good luck. You picked this. You knew what you were getting into. These thoughts were callously rattling around in my brain as I smiled, Cheshire cat-like and said, “OH that must be so hard. I am so very sorry.”
“Maybe you should pull the shades, get a warm bath, have some chamomile tea and give sleep another try.”
“So, you just didn’t think about her car being in the driveway since she’d just walked in?” Jake continued his interrogation.
What was this guy doing? I told him the truth. But, he seemed to want blood.
“I was trying to get to the office when she arrived. I work for my husband who is usually the one who opens the clinic. If he’s late, the secretary does. Today, he had his annual physical and Jordan the secretary had just texted saying that she was stuck in traffic and would be late. I was trying to get out the door with Louis.” I said.
“Who is Louis?” Jake from State Farm, asked.
“Louis is my husband’s standard poodle. He goes to work with him every day.” I said.
“Wow, that’s very nice that you can take the dog to work.” Jake said.
“Well, my husband is a vet. And, Louis is a puppy. He will destroy my home if he isn’t watched every single minute. So, Louis goes to the office. He gets into a lot less trouble there.” I said.
If he had seen what was really going on he would have thought that we are a big mess. You see my husband, Matt usually drives in to work with Louis and I stay home with Lucy, the sweetest and most affectionate doxie in all of middle Tennessee. So, when I put Louis leash on, my sweet Lucy’s world was rocked. How could I possibly cheat on her by taking Louis with me?
I walked past our powder room (I’ve always wanted a powder room and while it might sound elegant it is in fact, just a room with a toilet and a sink) I could hear poor Olivia sniffling still; blowing her nose. The good me would have stayed and consoled her but the selfish me was thinking that I needed to get moving and open the office and how in the heck am I going to do that with a crying daughter and two confused dogs? Unable to decide what to do next, I shot up a little prayer, ” Please Lord won’t you help me out of this one?”
Lucy nervously paced back and forth, ‘what about me, mom? You forgot me.’ I was trying to take Louis through the laundry room out into the garage and Lucy ran past Louis and began doing her little hop, skip, tail wagging, I’m-oh-so-excited-to-go-with-you-mom-dance, that I got distracted by her cuteness and let go of his leash. Louis was thinking (yes, I can read his mind, it’s a gift) that if Lucy could run ahead with me, maybe he should just stay home and maybe he’d just check on Olivia too as he burst past me running back inside the house.
I was on my hands and knees peering under the car in an effort to catch a wiggly wiener dog when I heard Olivia yelling, “No-o-o-o, Louis, get out. I ran back inside peeked into the powder room and saw Olivia holding half of the toilet roll insert as the other half was flushing down the toilet. Louis had broken into the bathroom and jumped onto Olivia, knocking the insert out of her hand and into the flushing toilet.
It was five minutes until eight. The office is ten minutes away.
“I’ve got to get to the office. I said, pointing at the toilet, I will deal with this later.”
I handed Lucy to Olivia, wrapped Louis leash tightly around my wrist and hauled him to the car where he stoically found his seat and we were finally off. One, dog inside, one dog in the car, Matt is at the doctor….crunch. Crap. Olivia is here.
Crap. Crap. Crap. Crap. Crap.
Olivia is going to kill me. She’s the neat kid. She’s the one who must have order in her world and I have literally just put a big ole dent in that order. And, she’s already coming apart. I don’t need her to come apart until after the semester, graduation and her boards are all behind us.
I stopped the car, ran to the garage door, opened it and being the yellow bellied sort that I am shouted, “Olivia, I’ve just backed into your car and it’s bad.” I slammed the door and ran.
I deserve this. This is what I get for being selfish and insensitive. What do I do next, I wondered. Well, I guess that the next thing to do would be to go out and take pictures of my handiwork because that is what Jake from State Farm would want, right? And, I’d better send it to my husband Matt, too. Just get it all over with at once.
Unbeknownst to me, Olivia had come undone. As my husband would say, she had a come-apart. Upon hearing the news, she dropped to her knees right there in the kitchen floor, burst into tears, screaming and crying, while thrashing about.
After a few minutes, Olivia appeared and was calm and cool. It was as if she was the grownup in this scenario. Somehow her crazy had been exchanged for calm. It was such a relief.
“So, I was wrestling with the dogs and hurrying to open the office and just wasn’t thinking.” I said.
“You had a very busy morning.” He said.
Yes, I did. But, Jake, didn’t know the half of it.
I am a daughter, sister, aunt, mother and probably most notoriously, ‘the Vet’s wife’.