How I Spent My Summer Vacation
Anyway, I didn't exactly have the dream vacation I just described. After all, trying to coordinate the schedules of six people is no picnic - but we did fine - in fact, we had this crazy family dinner last night that was one of the nicest I can remember. I had brought down a basket full of food - and we just cooked around whatever we had... We grilled fish - which mercifully finished cooking just before the gas ran out (this is a personal triumph for me)... And some other people really benefited from our presence in Maryland.
Last Tuesday, four of us visited Assateague Island. My father has a permit to drive on the beach - which you purchase yearly. Here's how it works. In order to drive on the beach, you must have a shovel, boards (in case you get caught in the sand), tow ropes, a jack, tire gauge, and tons of common sense. You have to let most of the air out of your tires, then you're on your way... Off driving over the dunes and along the surf... Which is all very well and good as long as you kind of know what you're doing...
To make a long story short, on our way off the beach, we passed a man in a blue Ford Explorer who got stuck. He had spun his wheels to such an extent that he just simply sunk in the sand - the frame of his car was resting on the dune. He was stuck - and in a little trouble. This is a great example of why one needs a shovel when driving on the beach... Except this man took the loose interpretation of "shovel..." and was trying to dig himself out of of the sand with a garden trowel. It was more than a little sad. "Hey. Does he look like he's taken air out of his tires?" asked my father... "Not nearly enough," I thought.
This man had no jack with him - but did have two half inch pine boards kind of inserted behind his rear tires... My father just shook his head. Dad yanks out his jack and shovel - and we take turns digging beneath his axles. It would have been fine, really -but the wind was particularly strong - and was blowing sand with such force that it actually stung our faces... Anyway - to make a long story short, we jacked up his axles, put 3/4" plywood beneath the tires - and told him to back out of the sand - which he did...
He made it 40 feet - and then turned his tires, plowed sand, and sunk straight down again. We repeated the dig-jack-board - and this time, we got him off the beach. I returned his pine boards (now broken in about 5 pieces...) and he thanked me profusely for saving him... He then handed me a fist full of 20$ bills, which I halfheartedly refused (It had been an hour and a half of digging - and I know I should be more magnanimous, but come on - I was chewing sand at this point... And besides - he was insistent! He then returned to the air station to refill his tires.
I looked at Dave. "He gave us $60. He said he'd like to buy us dinner for our trouble." Dave brightened, then turned to the truck, where my mother had been patiently waiting for us for an hour and a half. "Hey!" shouted Dave.... "WE GOT SIXTY BUCKS!!!!"
When I say shouted, I want to be perfectly clear about the decibel level... Think LOUD... And then picture the guy we dug out - standing about 25 feet away from us, clearly hearing every syllable loudly and clearly.
"Dave!" I hissed. "He's right there...."
"Did I do something wrong honey?"
Thankfully, the sand had blasted my face to such an extent that one might have had a hard time discerning how much I was blushing.... Meanwhile, my father was on the other side of the truck, where he had a clear view of all parties involved... He was just laughing...
So we went for lunch, compliments of the guy in the Ford Explorer... For the rest of the weekend, I kept exclaiming "Sixty Bucks!!!" in my best Muppet voice.
Then this morning, my sister and I went for a walk on the beach with Ebby and her dog, Rusty. Rusty sniffed out a wallet laying on top of the sand. In it was two credit cards, a drivers' license, a Blockbuster membership, and a student ID card. The kid was from a little town in Pennsylvania called Lititz. If you're not familiar, it's in the middle of Amish Country in Lancaster county. His drivers license showed a cute, bleach-blond All American boy who recently turned 21. Made me wish my step-daughter was with us so she could meet him.
Okay - so we get back to the house and my sis calls Directory assistance for Lititz... Wouldn't you know it - his house phone was unlisted? The operator suggested we call the police department - as they very likely have access to all unlisted phone numbers - and could get a message to the kid's parents that we have his stuff. So my sister calls the Ocean City police. There wasn't a long conversation, but I could tell my sister was getting no satisfaction - because she said, "Well, okay - thanks for nothing!" and hung up. "This rude woman said I was out of my mind if I thought she could find his phone number... I guess we'll just mail it to him." My sis then went off to get her shower.
I picked up her phone. I figured that Lititz was a pretty calm quiet little town - what could the cops there possibly have to do on a Sunday morning? So I 411'd them. I figured they'd log into the PA DMV, find this kid's home phone, and call his mom. I figured his mom might be at church, but by noon, I should have a call.
WRONG. On all counts. The officer thanked me for being so nice, then said "Well, I'll send a patrol car out there - and give them your cell number..."
Okay. If you have a 21 year old child who is vacationing on his own in a beach town, I'm guessing the very LAST thing you want is an early morning visit from a patrolman... But there was nothing I could do. It's the price you pay for an unlisted number.
In the meantime, Dave was ready to leave Ocean City. I felt badly that I couldn't get this kid his stuff before we left... And I was kind of getting more and more ideas about how to find this kid as I rode with Dave. I called the number on his Blockbuster card... "Hey I have a weird request... (explanation)... I figured you have a phone number for him - can you call and tell him I have his stuff?" I had no faith that some minimum-wage Blockbuster employee would care to actually follow through, so I did the next logical thing - I called the number on the back of his Bank Card. "Um... Hi. I found one of your customer's wallet on the beach - and just thought maybe you could call him and tell him I'm sending his stuff back to him." The man on the phone was perhaps a little overzealous, and explained that yes, he'd be happy to help me... and that he would send the kid another card immediately... "Um, can you just call him - and tell him I'll get the card back to him?"
"Sure. I'll give him the message."
I know what you're thinking - Why am I so intent on getting a hold of this kid? Well, as one who recently had her account hacked into, I'm a little sensitive - and more than happy to ease the discomfort that I went through while buying lunch for strangers in Chicago.
Finally the kid called me at 3pm - Apparently he also lost his cell phone - and his mother had a good time frantically searching for his friend's cell phone number so she could tell her little boy that the cops had come to her house this morning saying he'd lost his wallet. Until then, he hadn't even realized he'd lost it...