View Full Version : My Labor Day Weekend

09-21-2010, 12:09 AM
I'm not sure where to post this, and I confess it's a bit self indulgent ... but I took a coworker to the Twin Cities over Labor Day weekend and had a wonderful time until our trip home and about an hour north of Des Moines, IA. So that I wouldn't have to tell the tale a dozen times, I wrote about our little misadventure and shared it on Facebook and with my coworkers and family. I didn't write it for anyone to feel sorry for me - and my friend Rich and I are actually a lot more grateful for our everyday lives after this experience. Anyway - I thought I'd share and hope you get a chuckle and maybe a little more out of my story:

What I Did on my Labor Day Weekend Vacation
So about 10 days prior to the Labor Day weekend, my coworker Rich was commenting that he'd really like to get out of town for even a brief get-away. I suggested he might like the Twin Cities since he's very artsy, musical and so on. After some discussion with my supervisor and long-time GFFs, Phyllis, we decided we'd take a road trip over the Labor Day weekend.We left Friday morning with a full tank of gas, a small 7-pound, 3-legged dog named Tippi and our sunglasses on. Wait - only I had sunglasses on ...

Except for some mighty strong crosswinds on I-35 and temperatures in the 60s rather than the 90s, we had a pretty uneventful trip to the Twin Cities. We arrived in Ham Lake at the home of my life-long friend, Bill Lanzy and his amazing and lovely wife Shirley at about 6:30 p.m. and proceeded to just relax. Bill had to make a trip to Detroit for the funeral of his dad's last brother, George, but was scheduled to return on Sunday. Shirley, who inherited me as a friend when she married Bill, was our awesome hostess! And I think, despite the fact that little Tippi Sue's mere
presence sent their kitties Foo and Neech into apoplexy, grew quite fond of my little princess and even dog sat on Saturday while Rich and I make a short tour of the city.

We had SO much fun (well, I did anyway - and yanno it's all about me). We toured Dinkytown (the area of college-student type eateries and shops that surround most campuses), walked across campus, down the mall and across to the Coffman Union - stopping at the bookstore where I found a clearance UM hoodie! We dined at one of my all-time favorite places - Annie's Parlour - which serves amazing burgers, skin-on fries and real ice cream treats. We shared a burger, fries and a hot fudge malt that filled both of our glasses and mine a second time (because I needed to fill out the dimple in my thigh).

Then we headed to the Minnesota State Fair. If you haven't been - it's totally unlike any state fair you've ever attended - if only in sheer size and attendance. I think because it's not in some small town you have to drive four hours to get to, the Minnesota fair, located smack-dab in the middle of St. Paul may just be the most-attended state fair in the nation. And lucky us - we attended on the record-breaking attendance day of all time - 234,000+ people ... shoulder-to-shoulder, Pronto Pup-to-fried cheese curd. Rich faired remarkably well considering his panic disorder but after two hours of weaving through the crowds I was ready to call it quits as well. Although we didn't visit any of the animal barns or 4H and other crafty things - I did get my Pronto Pup and fried cheese curds so the trip wasn't a total loss.

Sunday we slept late and waited for Shirley to fetch Bill from the airport. I have to say after knowing Bill for over 45 years - seeing him is, as he said to me, "Like opening a book to the page where you put the bookmark the last time we were together." We're like two high-school sophomores trying to get the best of one another. Nothing makes you feel more youthful than the joyful jabbing and needling of an old friend. We even make those around us laugh with our stupid antics. We'll forever be "Buggs" (me) and "Chief" (him). And in the midst of our foolishness, his lovely wife Shirley not only puts up with us - but joins in the fun.

Because I'm so ballsy, and moreso because Bill and Shirley are so amazing, I planned a get-together at their house for my other dear friends, Ruth Lillemo Mitchell, Matt "Nose" Williams and Ruth's daughters Alyssa and Angela (whom Ruth so graciously shares with me since all I had was stupid old boy children LOL). Rich went in 50/50 with me for groceries and I cooked for the cookout. We had the obligatory burgers, dogs, brats, potato salad, pasta seafood salad and baked beans (lots of jokes for the old folks there). Shirley offered S'more makins, Bill did grillmaster duties, Ruth brought the most amazing fresh fruit salad (the orgasmic peaches are another whole story) and a veggie tray and along with the Vernors Ginger Ale - we feasted like royalty!!!

Shirley lit a bonfire in the firepit in their nature preserve-worthy backyard and we sat around the fire roasting marshmallows and one another. I haven't laughed like that in ages and being in the presence of some of the best friends I've ever had was just joyful beyond words or measure. Oh - and Lindsay, an Internet friend and fan of Rich's music drove all the way from Hudson, WI to meet Rich and join our whacky band. She was so sweet and I know Rich really enjoyed meeting her. I do believe a fantastic time was had by all and we were all somewhat sad that old age, fatigue and daily lives curtailed our festivities long before we were ready.

Monday we got up and packed and Bill and Shirley treated us to a whopping big (and delicious) breakfast at one of their favorite restaurants in St. Paul before we got on the road. The picture currently on my profile is Bill and me vying for the most room and front spot in the picture Shirley took. I think I won! Yes, I am 54 and Bill is a very old (ducking) 59 - but I think together we have the maturity of about a 12-year-old. And how fun is that?!

Our trip southward was uneventful - although my usual afternoon fatigue began to set in and I'd just commented to Rich that at the next state rest area I was going to stop and take a 20-minute power nap before we headed on. He thought that sounded like a capital idea (he could smoke). We had to come to a somewhat abrupt halt when we arrived at a construction zone about 30 miles north of Ames, Iowa. We'd come to a full stop and I quipped to Rich, "I wonder how long this is going to take?" Just then, he happened to glance in the side-view mirror on his side of the car and said, "Oh shit!" I quickly looked up into my rear-view in time to see a flash of maroon and two headlights just as they plowed into my trunk at about 60 mph. The force of the impact then sent us about 20 feet into the bed of a Ford Ranger pickup. Our airbags deployed, I remember looking down at Tippi on my lap and Rich said, "are you OK?" with smoke coming out of his mouth. It took me a few seconds to realize the smoke was not from a cigarette - it was from the airbags and that the car was filled with smoke.

It took me probably a minute (but it seemed longer) to compose myself, gather up Tippi and get out of the car. I admit - I was ticked at the young thing who'd totaled my car for a few minutes. Mostly I was dazed and confused and we gathered at the guardrail at the side of I-35 waiting for the police. It wasn't long before a female Iowa State trooper came up and started gathering our information, calling a tow service and the usual protocols for an accident. At one point I looked down the guardrail at the pretty young woman who'd hit us and beckoned her to join us. I'd long since given up being mad and the mom in me kicked in. This poor young woman was all of 19 from Rice Lake, WI. She was on her way to her sophomore year of college at William Woods University in southern Missouri all alone. She felt so bad and Rich comforted her by saying, "that's why they call 'em accidents. Shit happens. We're all alive and well." And suddenly looking at her car and mine, crush into a mass of twisted metal I realized once again how good God is. By all rights - we may have been dead - or at the very least, severly injured. But instead, except for Rich spraining his wrist when the airbag deployed and me somehow having my left great toenail ripped off - none of the six of us had a mark on us!

The tow company came and for me, somehow the trouble started. But I'll suffice it to say the tow driver owns the only towing company AND the municipal impound lot in Webster City, IA - 15 miles west of I-35. Sadly for him I think he's intimidating his way through an unhappy life and because I dared to ask him where he was taking our vehicles, whether there was any place to rent a car, how far it was and if he could take us to Ames instead (all of which he answered with a very aggravated and angry, "NO!") he was pissed at me for life.

The state trooper informed the young lady, Alyssa and me we were both being ticketed. I inquired why I was getting a ticket and she curtly replied, "failure to stop." I quickly said, "Honey, I was at a full and complete stop when the accident occurred." She asked Alyssa if this was true, and she affirmed my story. I think in retrospect - both the officer and the tow driver thought I'd caused the wreck but smacking into the pickup in front of me which caused Alyssa to hit me. She lightened up considerably after the realized the error of her assumption. Anyway - she dropped us at Tony's Tow and Truck in Webster City, IA where we were told we'd just have to get a room for the night. We asked one of Tony's employees if he'd help us crowbar my trunk open so we could get our belongings and Tony very curtly told me that they didn't have time - they had another accident call.

Rich's wrist had started to throb and we thought perhaps it might be fractured so we decided to go to the little county hospital that was (gratefully) in town. We were told we could come back later and get our luggage and a lady who was either an employee or the spouse of an employee of Tony's was there working on their own tire, but she volunteered to take us to the hospital and even escorted us in and made sure we were going to be cared for before she left. The PA and two EMTs staffing their small ER were simply wonderful. Even though I had Tippi in tow - they fawned all over her and the two of us. They cleaned up my bleeding tow and bandaged it to a faretheewell.

Rich was shaking and they brought him a tray of food, xrayed his wrist and discovered it was not a fracture but a bad sprain and put it in a splint. The admissions lady tried to get ahold of Bird Dog Taxi for us, and failing that (he must have knocked off for the night because it was a holiday), she drove us to the AmericaInn, which she recommended over the Super 8.

We checked into the motel with the dirty clothes on our backs and one small dog. We were both grateful for the comfortable beds. Neither of us slept as well as we needed - I lacking my C-PAP machine kept waking up and Rich has sleep issues anyway - but I think he got more sleep than he thought. We got up the next morning and some lovely people watched Tippi while I got her some sausage gravy from their free breakfast buffet and grabbed myself a bagel. The ladies told me they were in town for a funeral and were bored so they got me coffee and played with Tippi while I got on my phone and started calling my insurance company, Alyssa's insurance company and the Hertz car rental office at the Fort Dodge airport - some 30 minutes away. Having gotten that underway - we walked across the highway to Tony's in anticipation of getting our belongings our of my car - which they told me would be there.

I got my first inkling of a problem when I didn't see my car anywhere on Tony's 3-acre property and commented to Rich that I had a bad feeling that Tony towed my car, out of spite, to the local impound lot. I must say I hate my "spidey senses" because they're so often spot-on, but when we inquired about my car and getting my belongings Tony appeared in the room from the garage and mumbled, "I towed it to the impound lot across town - you'll just have to wait." I courteously asked the other guy at the counter if we could borrow a couple of crowbars and take a taxi across town to get our stuff and Tony reappeared saying, "You can't go over there - I own the lot and someone from here has to go with the key and I told you I don't have time for you - you'll have to wait." Translation - "listen fat bitch, I don't like that you questioned me last night - so I'm going to exact my pound of flesh on you." All he had to do is ask Id have gladly given him 80 lbs.

About 20 minutes into the wait, I called my insurance agent in KC and explained that I was afraid that Tony was going to be very difficult and he offered to call and see what he could do. Rich and I heard the entire conversation with the young gal behind the counter who bald-face lied to Alex and told him Tony wasn't in and that we would only have to wait a short time. He called me back and after Rich closed the door to the waiting area - he told me he understood very well what was going on and told me to give them another 30 minutes. About 90 minutes later, Alex called me back and I told him we were still waiting and that it appeared Tony intended to teach me a lesson by letting me sit there all day. In the meanwhile, I was exhanging phone calls with Linsday's insurance people and Fred at the Hertz counter in Fort Dodge.

Finally about another hour passed - it was now about 1:15 p.m. and Tyler - the other young agent at State Farm called and managed to get to speak to Tony - who stood there right in front of me and told Tyler I was the "most rudest person I've ever met and I just don't want to help her." At that point, with several other customers in his place, I decided it was time for some drama that might turn the tide of public opinion and pressure in my favor - so I cried big crocodile tears and wailed that "all I want is to go home." In addition, I'd told one of his employees that my heart medication and my blood pressure medication, along with Rich's anxiety medication were all in my luggage and I was starting to feel ill. Frankly - Tony didn't care. He was about as mad at me as anyone has ever been - and I just honestly don't know what I did to deserve his full rage - but there it was. He told Tyler I yelled at him and every other word was the f-bomb (a complete lie). He was having no part of me - and at that point I dramatically walked into the waiting area with Rich completely freaking out right behind me. Once we closed the door I told Rich it was an act - but I think he was so totally freaked out by then it didn't matter.

Whatever the case - I think Tyler and my histrionics finally caused Tony the Tool (as I've fondly dubbed him), to think again about withholding my car, my keys and my belongings from me just to fulfill his vendetta for whatever imagined wrong I'd committed against him. Don was assigned to take us across town and help us retrieve our belongings. Don was very nice and reluctantly admitted that Tony "has a short fuse." Ya think?! Anyway - Rich and I both did our level best to befriend Don and thank him profusely for his assistance. We had him drop us off at the truck stop/gas station across the highway from Tony's place while we made final arrangements with the lovely and accommodating Fred for our rental car. We hung out in the lounge area - not fancy - not even clean - but hey - there were sofas, chairs, a table and an electrical outlet for us to recharge our phones. I took my medications, had half a sandwich on white bread and waited for Fred.

Fred arrived later than his 3 p.m. arrival time because he had to wait for the flight to come in. Yep - Delta airlines - one flight - one airline desk, one Hertz rental desk. That's the Fort Dodge airport. It was lovely - newly remodeled and Fred and his compadre Jeremy were very accommodating. We used the rest room, manually filled out the paperwork and Fred kindly gave me directions and a Xerox map so I could make my way back the 20-some miles through the cornfields of Hamilton county to get back to Webster City. Then a straight shot down Hwy 20 15 more miles to I-35 and we were (finally) on our way home. I was sad to leave my new and beloved middle-aged crisis car in the cluthes of Terrible Tony, but there was nothing else to do.

I hit the drive-thru at Wendy's on Merle Hay Rd. in Des Moines for a quick single and a large Coke - the half sandwich and partial dry bagel having worn off hours before. On the road again - happy to be south of Des Moines and headed for home. And then we came to another stop for construction. We were both plenty tweaked until the semis in front, behind and beside us were at a complete stop too. And we waited, unmoving. Five minutes - I put the car in park. Twenty minutes - I turned the car off. Rich got out for a smoke and tried to see what was holding us up. Another 20 minutes - I convinced Rich it was OK to pee in the weeds. The semi drivers were either milling around and talking to people - or back in their sleepers watching TV. I texted Facebook and my friend Mike texted me offering to look on the Iowa Transportation site for possible causes. He called me a few minutes later and told me there was a multi-car pileup with injuries and a possible fatality (another moment of thanks for my own situation). Long story short - two hours and we were finally moving.

It was like a bad dream and I couldn't escape from Iowa. I said a prayer when we crossed the border into Missouri. Rich was pretty freaked out by this time and had to take periodic deep breaths. But we finally made it home at about 11 p.m. I dropped Rich off and when I finally pulled into my carport I felt like I'd been beaten. I gathered up my small dog, purse and crochet bag and dragged myself upstairs to my apartment. Taylor answered the door and said, "Good God Mom - you look terrible! Are you OK?" Uh, what?! He went out and got my luggage and after I told him a little about Tony he declared it was a good thing he wasn't there because he'd have "Punched that douche in the throat and landed in jail." So glad he wasn't there - although I confess I'm not yet advanced enough not to have fanticized about my sons, my 79-year-old dad (who also threatened to kick Tony's butt), my dear friend Mike and my loyal friend Bill (who was ready to get in the car to come save us) showing up at Tony's and raining a terrible ass-whuppin' on the small-town thug. I think I'll hold onto that visual for some time just because it makes me happy.

I finally went to bed at about 1:30 a.m. and literally did not stir, move, wake until Taylor woke me up at 9:40 a.m. with a call from Alex at State Farm. I slept through three alarms. So did Tippi. As for Chloe - Taylor reports she was terribly distraught at being left here and wouldn't eat the entire time we were gone. In fact, she apparently laid in the same spot except when Taylor took her out. Hopefully she lost some weight - but she's happy again to have mom and sissy home. I'm sure Tippi will be regaling her with tales of her amazing adventure for some time to come. As for me - I'm happy to be headed back to KU Med Center tomorrow - where no admissions dept employee would ever volunteer to drive you to the nearest motel - but where I know I can get someone to change the dressing on my gnarly toe and where no one will withhold my meds from me.

Lessons? I am deeply loved by some amazing people. Reaffirmation once again that God's grace is sufficient. Some people are just unhappy and mean - I don't choose to be one of them. And finally - gimme some open-toed orthopedic ruby slippers and take me back to Kansas Glynda. It's good to be home!

09-21-2010, 01:47 AM
Jesus! I know I missed something on FB, but I didn't know I'd missed all THAT! I'm SO glad you're okay, and that Tippi didn't become a canine missile.

Also? Kudos for the way you dealt with the asshole. What a prick.

Enormous hugs, baby. Welcome home.

Mistress Morigianna
09-21-2010, 02:17 AM
wow thank your gardian angel or spirit for watching over you!

09-21-2010, 01:45 PM
Hugs sweetie. David and I were at the DMRF that weekend, not so far from you.
You done good. And you are one helluvagal to be able to deal with the 'Tonys' of the world with such
a cool head.
But heck, you DaBaroness!:cheer:

Lady Sarah
09-21-2010, 02:06 PM
Wow. Just... WOW...

Frighteningly enough, I'm not going to ask where Tony the Tool is, because, again, frighteningly enough, he sounds EXACTLY like my niece's stepfather - who's named Tony, and they all live in Iowa. I don't think he owns a Tow company, however...

Glad you're home somewhat safe and somewhat unscathed.

09-21-2010, 04:21 PM
I am glad you are safe. Stay inside for a bit so we won't worry. :-)