Tony, Tony, Come Around Something’s Lost…….

P.S.  I am working on the Cliff Notes to this post (ba, ha, ha, ha)!!  FYI….I am putting this P.S. at the top of the post, in case Christine can’t make it all the way to the end. (Christine’s eyes glaze over after reading 140 characters!!)

As you may note by the title of this post, I will have a story (or two) to tell about how often my family and I pray to St. Anthony, the patron saint of lost articles.  We keep him pretty busy and currently have him on “speed dial”!  With a few exceptions (such as the Christmas that I inadvertently threw away Blue Jacket’s tickets and several restaurant gift cards), St. Anthony usually leads us to the objects for which we are searching.  This brings me to the promise that I made in the last post about revealing the mystery of the change purse/car keys.  Remember to keep in mind, as I have stated before, that the only times I ever abbreviate a story, is when my scattered, cluttered, jumbled brain forgets the details.  The details of this drama are forever engrained in my mind.  This, then, is the “Case of the Missing Purse/Keys”:

The story you about to read is true, the names, unfortunately, have been NOT been changed to protect the innocent.

It was 10:30 AM on a Saturday.  The family was preparing to leave for a week-long vacation at the beach.  I had decided to take the car to the gas station to fill up the tank and as I was walking to the car, I noticed the newly mowed lawn and remembered that the lawn mower was out of gas and the gas can was now empty.  Opening the garage door, I grabbed the can, put it in the trunk and headed down the driveway.  I arrived at the gas station/mini-mart stepped out of my car and proceeded to fill up the tank as well as the two gallon gas can.  As I bent over to take the cap off of the gas can, I placed my change purse on which the car keys were attached, on the top of the trunk.  When I had finished, I walked to the driver’s side, unlocked the back door and placed the two gallon gas can on the floor.  I then got into the driver’s seat and drove off with thoughts of cool ocean breezes and crashing waves swirling around in my mind.  Upon arriving home, I left the car running while I put the gas can back inside the garage and then, remembering that I had forgotten something, went back into the house to retrieve the item before returning to my car to finish my pre-vacation errands.  As I put the car into reverse, I looked up and noticed a message on the car’s instrument panel which read, “no key detected“.  A horrifying epiphany ensued… I had a keyless starter, that message meant that I must have forgotten to grab my purse (which contained my driver’s license/credit/bank cards/$150.00 “vacation” cash) and the attached car keys from the trunk top. Fortunately, I had NOT turned the engine off!!  I immediately drove back to the gas station taking the same route from which I had just come, searching the pavement along the way for any sign of the purse/keys.  Suddenly, my cell phone rang… was Christopher who was checking in to see what time I was planning to leave for the beach.  Hurriedly, I told him how I had misplaced the keys and that I was now frantically scouring the roadway between my house and the gas station.  He hung up and made a quick call to Stephanie to share with her the news of the misplaced purse/keys and to see if she could help in the search.

In the meantime, I pulled back into the gas station parking area and searched the area where I thought I had pumped the gas, but not seeing any sign of the purse/keys, left the car running (good thinking, MM) and walked inside the mini-mart to inquire as to whether someone might have found them and turned them in.  The female manager stated that no one had come forward with any lost items, and so I, who in my youth had envisaged myself as a female Perry Mason (LOL), put on my thinking cap (you know, the one worn by Tom Terrific of the Captain Kangaroo TV show) and began to wonder if, perhaps the purse had fallen off a short time after I had driven out of the gas station and some conscientious citizen, having seen it lying on the ground had turned it in to the CVS pharmacy which was just across the street.  Therefore, I drove over to the CVS lot and pulled into a parking spot, shifted the gear into park, jumped out of the car while leaving the driver’s side door open and the car running (shrewdly realizing, once again, that I could not turn off the engine).  Once inside the CVS, I relayed my hapless story to the clerk.  After checking with her manager, she returned to sadly inform me that no lost items had been turned in that morning.  Kicking myself for being so negligent, I walked back to the car with the opened door and running engine, and as I slid onto the seat, I took a quick glance over at the passenger side only to notice with horror that my large black purse was now gone!!!

OMGosh……..what a double “ding-bat” I was to leave the door wide open (to say nothing about the fact that the car could have also easily been stolen!).  Not giving a thought as to how stupid I would be perceived, I ran back into the CVS to inform the clerk that it now appeared that my large purse had been stolen.  She promptly called the non-emergency number to file a report, when out of the blue, a Columbus police officer showed up on the scene.  After explaining the embarrassing saga of what had just occurred, he asked  the manager if he could review the store’s video of the parking lot.  Just then, Stephanie and Luke also arrived having been alerted by Christopher that their “looney-tunes” Mom was on the loose in Clintonville!  Actually, Stephanie and Joe had each gone on separate errands with their kids in tow earlier in the morning, and having learned of my mishap, had driven straight to the gas station where Stephanie put Joe, Mayce and Tommy on the hunt for the lost items while she and Luke sought me out at the CVS.  While the officer was checking the video footage, Stephanie, Luke and I went outside to search through the bushes next to the parking lot, conjuring up images of unsavory thieves who may have found the purse/keys laying on the sidewalk and emptied the purse and threw it into the bushes…….or……perhaps they had spied the open car door and seized the opportunity to snatch the purse from the seat, taken what they wanted and tossed the remaining contents as well as the big, black purse into the shrubbery.

Having seen nothing on the store’s video of anything or anyone suspicious, the officer suggested that he walk back over to the gas station with us to also review their video footage taken during the time that I had been getting gas.  Mind you, both video reviews took nearly 15 minutes each, and in the end, revealed nothing pertinent.  I have to say that both of the managers and their staffs bent over backwards to lend whatever assistance they could in order to help me to retrieve my lost items.  Joe later told me that the gas station manager had even sent his employees outside to forage through the trash cans, and to scour the parking lot and surrounding area in an effort to find the purse/keys.

Not having found any trace of the missing items and no evidence that anyone had entered my car in the brief period that the door had been left opened, the police officer decided it best to get into his car and follow me.  And so it was that a small “motorcade” of me, Officer Dave (by this time we were on a first name basis), Stephanie and Luke, drove slowly back to my house to continue searching over the route I had taken.  Finding nothing en route, we arrived at home and while Officer Dave and I searched the garage area,  Stephanie and Luke went inside to have a look around the downstairs area.   Well………to my relief and mortification they discovered my large black purse sitting on the floor of the living room!  It seems that when I had gone back into the house after placing the gas can in the garage, I had dropped my black purse on the living room floor, gone into the kitchen to get something and then went back out to the car without stopping back in the living room!  Yikes!! At least, one of the mysteries was solved.  I will forgo relaying the look on Officer Dave’s face when he learned of this!!  LOL  The search now centered on the missing change purse/car keys which we by now had assumed must have flown off the trunk of the car as it made its way up the somewhat steep hill leading to my house.  I turned to Officer Dave as we were looking underneath parked cars and searching up and down the street and in the grass and jokingly asked him what he would tell his family when they asked him how his day went.  He sort of smiled (or was that a smirk?) and said that he would simply tell them that it was just like any other day…..I don’t know, but that sounds to me like there must be a lot of crazy ladies on the loose in Clintonville!!

Finally, it came time to admit that all that could be done had been done, and so I thanked Officer Dave for his patience, his understanding and his efforts on my behalf, walked him to his cruiser and watched him drive off.  Stephanie and Luke left as well and then it was time for me to go inside and set about the arduous task of cancelling credit cards, etc.  As I walked into the kitchen, I noticed that my home phone was blinking, and so I checked to see who it was that had left a message.  To my surprise, it was from a man whose daughter had spotted something lying on the hill of my street as the family was on their way to an out-of-town event and had compassionately stopped their car to retrieve it.  Looking inside they found my driver’s license, searched for my name on whitepages and after a few miscues, eventually found my home phone number, but by that time they were already on the freeway.  I quickly called them back and it was  arranged that they would drop it off later in the day after they had returned home.  To think that all the while I had store managers from two locations, their staffs, Officer Dave, Stephanie, Joe, Luke, Tommy and Mayce searching all over for that stupid change purse and keys; the mystery could have been solved within a matter of minutes had someone only been at home to answer the phone!!!  Whew!! After all that had transpired that morning, I definitely NEEDED that vacation!

This recent little drama is but one in a laundry list of tales for which my family could be nominated as a poster family for lost articles.  I am sure St. Anthony would stuff the ballot box in our favor.  I can quickly call to mind a few of the more infamous occasions in which we have implored his help.  For example,  there is the notorious story of Christopher who finally got a brand new bike (not a used one, as was the norm for us), and would proudly ride it to his friends’ homes as well as to baseball practice at the ball field just up the street from our house.  One day he came to me asking me where his bike was and so began the “interrogation”.  I calmly (yes, I am sure that I must have asked “calmly”….it was only a lost $$$$$ bike after all!) questioned if he had checked the garage (you know the place where bikes are supposed to be put away when you are not using them?).  He assured me that it was not there.  Next question…could he have left it at a friend’s house? No.  Next question (maybe at this point, the “calmly” adjective disappeared!)……Where was he when he last remembered riding it? Well, after much thought, he last remembered riding it to the ball park.  When was that?  A few days ago.  And you haven’t seen it since?  No.  Minutes pass……………suddenly the light bulb burns brightly inside his head.  Sheepishly (Thesaurus does not recognize this adverb, but I am using it anyway), he remembers that he rode his bike to the park, but walked home!!!  Needless to say, when he walked back to the park to get it, the bike was gone!  St. Anthony must have thought that Christopher needed to learn a lesson here.  (If you would ask Jessica, I am sure that she would tell you that Chris has not been a “quick” learner!!).  Oh, and then there was the case of the “stolen” Dodge Durango (yep…my family jumps from losing bikes to SUV’S!!).  This particular story has Stephanie’s name written all over it.  Suffice it to say that years ago, after Stephanie began living on her own, she called me frantically one morning to tell me that her car had been stolen from in front of the Clintonville double she was renting with friends.  Imagine, if you will, the “calm” questioning that ensued after this revelation!  Anyway, it was quickly decided that the only thing to do was to file a police report as soon as possible.  Many hours later, the same proverbial light bulb that had eventually turned on for Chris, turned on for Stephanie as the events of the previous night slowly emerged.  She now told her Dad and me that she “remembered” that she had “loaned” her car to one of the friends whom she had been hanging out with the night before.  It seems that this friend who did not own a car, had need of a means of transportation for the following day, and so as Stephanie lived close by, she let the friend take her car and she and some other friends ended up walking back to her place at the end of their evening!  Here is a question:  What kind of friend loans you their car and then files a police report that the car had been stolen??  Fortunately, for Stephanie’s friend, she “remembered” before the police could put out an APB on them!

Oh dear………I am way, way over my word limit, but as I mentioned earlier, I never, ever retell a story without making it into a never-ending novel…..suffice it to say that this bad habit also runs in the family (channelling Johnny!!). LOL  However, I can not depart from this topic without relaying yet another “lost” item saga.  This one occurred just two weeks ago as I, curiously enough, began writing this post.  This time the focus is on Jennifer.  It was a “Nana TGIF” day.  The school kids were gathering at the end of the school day to recite the rosary at the grotto and as Jennifer had the day off, she planned to attend and said she could drop all of the kids off afterwards.  I was at home enjoying the peace and quiet, knowing that it was soon to end, when I received a picture text from Stephanie.  It was a photo of some of the school kids and they appeared to be searching for something.  Puzzled, I called Stephanie to find out the nature of the picture and she told me that Jennifer had lost her wedding/engagement rings and so some of the kids remained behind with their parents to help her to look for them.  I decided to drive up to the school to lend my Sherlock Holmes sleuthing talent, obviously developed over many years of “missing cases”, to the hunt.  When I arrived, I walked over to where Jennifer was anxiously reviewing her movements of the previous hour with some of the parents.  I passed by students with rakes, others on their hands and knees and still others walking, heads bent low, perusing the ground all around the grotto.  When I approached her, I said to her in….in my best Sherlock Holmes demeanor,  “It is elementary, my dear Jennifer, quite elementary, to not lose your wedding rings in such a large grassy area, especially when it is covered over in thick pine needles!!”  Okay, well, what I think I probably said went something more like, “Really, Jennifer?  Your diamond wedding rings?  How in the world does that happen??  Did they just slide off of your fingers??”  Yeah, that is probably more like how it went down.  Anyway, she explained that she thought that she had been twisting the rings back and forth on her finger and surmised that the rings had then become so loose that they must have fallen onto the ground when she got up from the stone bench from which she had been sitting.  But after carefully examining the area around the bench, only a small wad of paper was discovered.  One of the parents even got on their iPhone to post on Facebook to see if anyone had a metal detector to facilitate the search.  Like any good detective, I questioned Jennifer over and over about where she had walked after she had gotten up from the bench, whether she considered that she may have left her rings at home, when was the last time she remembered having them, etc.  She adamantly assured me that she hardly, if ever, took her rings off.  If ever St. Anthony’s help was needed, it was now and so it was suggested that everyone say a few prayers to him as the search continued in earnest.  After about ninety minutes of combing over the area, everyone had decided that it was time to give up the search and wait until a metal detector could be located.  Jennifer, in one last-ditch effort, desperately called Sam and found that he had just arrived home from Watterson and so she had him look around the kitchen for any sign of the rings.  With a few of us standing nearby, we overheard Jennifer’s deep sigh of relief, and turning to us, apologetically relayed that the rings had been located…..they had been on the kitchen counter all along.  The person who hardly EVER takes them off, had done just exactly that.  Praise be to St. Anthony!!  And praise be to the end of this lengthy post!!!

That. Really. Really. Really. Is. All.