Monday, December 18, 2006

A Christmas Miracle: a tale in three acts

Wow, where did that last week go? (Don't answer that...the piles of papers on my desk tell the story.)

I've been wanting to tell this story since it happened, but it's been too busy until today.

Our heroine, rushing as usual, decides to make a quick Target run on the way home from campus. It is a Thursday in December, mid-afternoon. The list includes band-aids, toilet paper, and compact fluorescent light bulbs; should be a quick in-and-out, with no Christmas shopping involved.

In the way of such things, though, it is not all that quick. The parking lot is crammed with other shoppers who in fact are Christmas shopping at 3:30 on a Thursday. And the clothing aisle emits its usual seductive aroma of inexpensive impulsivity. Despite the two pairs of jeans and two t-shirts that join the rest of the shopping list items in the cart, however, our heroine makes it through the store before 4. (As usual she skips trying on anything, trusting to Target's generous return policy.)

Purchases made, she returns home uneventfully, puts together some cookie dough to chill and bake later, cooks and eats dinner with supporting cast (spouse and younger child).

After dinner our heroine leaves for choir practice. Eldest child has an unexpected ride home from school--where she's stayed late for her own choir rehearsal--so the evening's plans have eased. Halfway through rehearsal our heroine reaches into her bag for her palm pilot, to check a date for an upcoming event.

It's not in the bag.

The palm pilot is not only the repository of all date- and place-related information. Its case is also a wallet, containing credit cards of untold spending limits and over eighty dollars cash, following an ATM run the day before. This is serious.

The bag is floppy and things sometimes fall out of it. Maybe the palm pilot is on the floor of the car.

It's not.

Our heroine returns home after choir practice, ca. 9 p.m. A frantic search for the palm pilot throughout the house ensues. It is unsuccessful. Our heroine is dangerously agitated, slamming drawers open and closed, stomping up and down stairs. The supporting cast (now represented by spouse and older child, as younger child is already in bed) backs away. This can't end well.

Realizing that she last used her wallet/palm pilot case earlier that day at Target, our heroine makes a desperate phone call. After waiting through a long recorded message and explaining her problem twice (once to the operator, and again to Guest Services), she is told to call back in thirty minutes, when the person with the key to the lost-and-found drawer will return. Assured that coming in to the store during the thirty-minute waiting period will not hasten the return of the keeper of the keys, our heroine hangs up and commences upon a tirade on the decline of western civilization, as evidenced by the failure of Guest Services to procure a key when needed. The supporting cast makes comforting noises but keep their distance.

Thirty minutes is long enough to roll and bake the chilled cookie dough. When the cookies are in the oven, the time appears to be up. Savvy now to the workings of the Target phone service, our heroine presses "0" at the appropriate moment and requests a connection to Guest Services, which is provided.

"Hello? My name is Our Heroine, and I think I left a black leather case--with a palm pilot in it, and some money--in the store, earlier today?"

"I think you did, honey. Let me check. Hold on."

Miraculously, Guest Services does not subject our heroine to holiday--or any--music on hold. On her return, she asks for a name again, then fills in first and middle when she hears the last name. The palm pilot is found! It would be too much to ask for anything to be left in the wallet; our heroine doesn't ask.

Target is open for another hour. It is ten minutes away. Our heroine rushes out the door, leaving instructions with eldest for cookie-removal. Guest Services has the wallet/case and more endearments. Our heroine doesn't usually answer to "honey," but it seems just right in the moment. She leaves, proffering grateful thanks. Once back in the car, she looks inside: all the money is there. The cards have not been moved.* A Christmas miracle, indeed.

The jeans and t-shirts don't fit and will be returned at a later date. The cookies are fine. All is well.

*In case you're worried that someone did get numbers and security codes from them, don't be: there's a fraud alert on my accounts anyway as a result of UCLA's recent data security breach.


Heather said...

glad that turned out ok - good luck w/ the rest of the grading and such-- and thanks for the procrastination - I'd been missing it.

Caroline said...