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In Which Real Life is... Real

Okay, so we had a lovely, lovely vacation, marred only by the fact that the Whirlwind of Destruction dove into the lake wearing her glasses, and I spent several hours diving in a grid pattern to try and locate them. Somewhere under the moldering leaves at the bottom of the lake are some lovely wirerim glasses which had only recently been totally replaced under warrantee. Otherwise, there were many relatives, much laughter, interesting tales, good food, swimming, loafing, and games of all sorts. All four of my kids were there (a rarity now that two of them are grown), a niece and a cousin announced engagements, and a cousin who married last October announced that he and his wife are expecting a baby in March. Good times.

We stopped at a restaurant just over the line in New Hampshire on our way back home, and the Whirlwind, who had been plugged into the portable DVD player for the trip home began to act up. I didn't want her bad move inflicted on all the other innocent diners, so I told my Beloved Husband to order the Whirlwind's and my dinner to go, and to bring it out to us when they were done, and we walked out.

Much Whirlwind hystrionics ensued, which my other kids watched much as you might a silent movie. Remember Daniel jumping up and down and whirling in circles when he got frustrated on the planet of the singing plants and funny painted naked people? The effect was similar. Apparently I'm mean, I hate all my children and her in particular, and I need to be reported to DCF because I don't feed children, but take them out of restaurants just because they are having fits because they are not being allowed to order the soda and not some variety of milk (which could have been a milkshake if she had been clever enough to request it).

Eventually middle daughter, who had not been hungry anyway, emerged with our food in takeout boxes (but without utensils), and went off to sit under a tree and have a few moments of teenage alienation and brooding under a tree way across the parking lot from us, so no one could know we were related. I ate, the Whirlwind ate, and before the calories had had enough time to mute her mood, the rest of the family emerged with our drinks. By this time Middle Daughter had apparently vanished into thin air.

I was upset because 1) I don't get that many chances to enjoy a dinner I didn't cook with all of my kids, and I was bummed that an occasion I had been looking forward to had not panned out and 2) where the hell was Middle Daughter anyway? Why couldn't she do us the courtesy to stay within sight.

We found her after driving around the parking lot a few times and sending my son into likely stores, and headed back across the border to Vermont. About half way home I realized that the backpack with my wallet, my credit (& other) card wallet, and my keys in it was not in the car. I'd been upset and distracted, and left them on the bench outside the restaurant.

When we got back there, they were gone. They had not been turned in at the restaurant (we left our number in case they got turned in later), nor had the police in that town or the nearest town on the Vermont side (where someone seeing my Vermont license might be moved to turn them in). We got some groceries and went home. I felt like the worlds biggest idiot, because I grew up in the New York and Philly suburbs and knew to keep a close watch on such things, but I let myself get all wound up and did something boneheaded.

We got home. We put away groceries. Middle Daughter called her boyfriend. I checked the phone messages, and none of them were from the restaurant. I made plans with my son to have him drive me to the DMV the next day to replace the drivers license. I made plans to cancel all my credit cards. Middle Daughter came down to get some food because she was hungry after not eating at the restaurant, and oh, by the way, the restaurant's number was on the phone's call log.

I called the restaurant. They had my backpack. Son and I set of in hope and trembling. The waitress at the bar got the backpack from the manager. Keys restored! Credit (& other) card wallet restored, with the cards in reverse order, clearly indicating that they had been shuffled through like a deck of cards! Wallet missing. Well, damn. Plans for DMV and replacement of all cards still on the docket for the next morning.

So that's what I spent the next day doing. The thief had not ordered anything on line using the number and the code on the back to verify physical custody of the card, so an internet whiz the thief is not, or the thief is bright enough to figure out that sending the stuff to an address they can get mail at is dicey. The day after that (yesterday) I stuck pretty close to home because the Chase Sapphire Cards that were being replaced were coming UPS, and if they came before 4:00 when my husband was leaving to take my adult kids to their plane, I wouldn't have to risk mailing them to them. The cards got there in time, and we sadly sent them off, while the Whirlwind and Middle Daughter and I set off for Middle's piano lesson, and pick up of Whirlwind's new glasses.

We got home. Eldest Daughter called from the airport. Husband is on the way home, flight is canceled, but they are booked on an earlier flight which will go out later because of weather in Philly. If this falls through they will call.

They call. No, plane is still on, but Eldest Daughter got a call from a Vermont State employee at a highway welcome center. They have my wallet, and Eldest Daughter's number was in it, could they tell me to pick it up there. Instead of cooking dinner in a timely fashion, I bundle the Whirlwind into the car, and go get my wallet. Wallet has been emptied of the cash in the main compartment, ($46) and the cash I tucked in under my license ($40), but the thief did not discover the ($60) I had tucked under the safe deposit box key in the other half of the wallet. All my other cards and reciepts, including the card that lists the make, model, and serial number of my cardiac stent are there.

I'm still glad I did all that calling and canceling, and later that night when the rebooked flights are canceled, but my daughter and son are able to use the brand new and newly activated Chase Sapphire Cards to book themselves onto the last flight into Philly that night (on a different airline), thus saving my daughter's job (she had used all her vacation and sick days for the quarter, and fellow employees hearing her story today confirmed her sense that she really had dodged a bullet), I am very, very thankful that a) a Sapphire Card entitles me to next-day replacement at no extra charge to me and b) our UPS man, who has 5 home-schooled kids and is always cheerful and pleasant, is also efficient and prompt.

I love living in Vermont, where even the crooks aren't (by and large) too dishonest, and where life is lived on a human scale.


( 15 comments — Leave a comment )
Aug. 11th, 2011 01:07 am (UTC)
Wow. Sorry your trip had such a rotten ending, but glad that it wasn't as bad as it might have been!

I've had really amazingly good support from the credit card companies when I've had my wallet or card number stolen. The last time around, the bank was utterly unhelpful and useless, but the credit card company got me a replacement card as fast as they possibly could. True, it's in their best interests to do so -- but the people I talked to on the phone were genuinely helpful and sympathetic, which was very badly needed in the circumstances!
Aug. 11th, 2011 02:04 am (UTC)
My experience was very similar. I told one of the women I was speaking to (I think in this case it was Amex, but I'm not sure) that it really was my fault in that I forgot my backpack (because, no matter how much I try to live in denial, when it comes down to it, I'm an adult and try to take responsibility for all my actions) and she insisted repeatedly that, no, I was human, and that people these days shouldn't be stealing other people's things, it was the thief that was at fault.

The archaeologist in me was trying to point out that thievery came into existence before the age of the dinosaurs, and that if Pharaoh left his gold collar out, he probably didn't expect to see it ever again either, but I ruthlessly quashed Indiana Thothmes and made her shut up, in view of the fact that the woman was being nice and didn't really need my sardonic view of the world.

Things turned out much better than I had any right to expect, but then this is a very nice part of the world (don't tell anyone, they might all want to move here and make it all crowded, instead of coming, spending their tourist dollars and toddling off home). When my daughter told one of her co-workers what happened - under the heading of "Now, see, this is why I want to find a job back home..." - he flat out disbelieved her. It was too good to be true. She was making it up.
Aug. 11th, 2011 03:08 am (UTC)
I'm so sorry for the rotten end to your vacation, but at least the vacation was good, so that's a plus.

I am nearly giddy with delight because our LONG HOT SPELL (midwest) has finally, finally broken and I could actually open the house up the past night and all of today and tonight without needing the air conditioner. It feels wonderful!

I hope you have decent weather out your way.
Melissa M.
Aug. 11th, 2011 06:07 am (UTC)
The nice thing about summer here in Vermont is that we generally only get about 5 days each year when one feels that the need for air conditioning is pressing, and even on those days, usually the night cools down enough to make the house bearable the next morning. Our hottest days (which we did get plenty of this year) tend to fall in July when I am actively petitioning Mother Nature to crank up the heat, because I teach swimming in the morning, and the hotter it is, the longer the kids can last in the cold water of the lake. Because I am in the water from 9 a.m. until noon, I have to wear a wet suit to keep from getting hypothermia on all but the hottest days.

Now we are starting the slow slide in to fall. In a week or so the trees that are stressed and a few trees in the valleys where cooler air falls in at night or those at elevation will start to turn, and we will have to face the inevitability of coats and hats and boots again.

The standard joke about the weather in Northern New England is that it offers "9 months of winter and 3 months of damn poor sleddin'".

Actually we get 3.5 seasons (spring is but a passing moment here), and I enjoy them all.

I'm glad you can breathe again. That feeling of being pressed in and drained by the heat is NO FUN!
Aug. 12th, 2011 03:33 am (UTC)
We tend to have 5 months of winter, which I think is far too much. We usually have a decent spring (very little of it this year, went from cool wet spring to Hot Summer in a couple of days, alas) and if we're lucky, a good fall, which is a season I love and would love even more if I did not know that Winter is following right on its heels.

I had an interesting visit at our museum where I volunteer this spring, when a family from Australia came thru and spent some time with me (they were following the Oregon Trail, thanks to a book the mother had read as a child, which I thought was cool) and we had a couple from Calif. who happened to be there at the same time. During the tour I mentioned our ice storm of 2007 and the Australians didn't even know what that was. The lady from Calif. said "oh, I've heard of those"--it was the most bizarre experience for someone like me who's endured far too many ice storms of greater or lesser intensity to try to explain what one is to someone who'd almost never even seen snow!

We've kept in touch since they went home (and on their journey) and it's been really interesting to see their reactions to various things, and to get photos of where they live--they are enduring winter right now and not enjoying it, but no snow at all. They did have frost one day and she sent me a photo to help me feel cooler, having read about our record setting heat wave!
Aug. 12th, 2011 02:12 pm (UTC)
How cool that they kept in touch! What a wonderful example of the way that volunteering brings back more than we give.
Aug. 13th, 2011 07:57 pm (UTC)
It has been really great to keep in touch with them. One interesting part was when I showed them our exhibit on the girls band from here who went to a huge Suffrage parade in Washington D.C. in 1913 and talked about that, and it happened to be voting day last April when they visited and I had already voted and had on my "I voted" sticker that they give out at the polling place, so I said something about how this story had made me more aware and appreciative of my voting rights, and they said "we always vote" and I said "good for you" and she said "oh, 95 percent of people in Australia do, it's compulsory". That was sure a surprise! They're fined if they do not vote. So I learned several new things that day, and they did, too.
Aug. 14th, 2011 08:05 pm (UTC)
That compulsory voting thing is something I found out from the lj of an Aussie internet friend. It gave me the giggles, thinking of the extreme indignation that such a thing would create just over the border in New Hampshire, where they take their "Live Free or Die" license plate motto seriously. I think Vermonters would be more likely to shrug philosophically and say "If they haven't got the sense to vote, don't imagine a fine is going to improve them much!"

Somewhere in the back of my mind I think I already knew about compulsory voting (A National Geographic article maybe?), but I really hadn't thought about it for years. I'm personally never quite sure whether the addition of the apathetic to our political atmosphere would be a good thing or a bad one, although these days I'm leaning towards the idea that it would probably lead to a less polarized and gridlocked government. Still don't think I'd vote for compulsory voting though.
Aug. 15th, 2011 12:03 am (UTC)
Compulsory voting seems very odd to me, but I do take my right and privilege a lot more seriously than I used to, though I have always tried to vote since I was old enough.
Aug. 11th, 2011 03:38 am (UTC)
Ack! Kids! You win Mom of the Year for never giving up on the Whirlwind. Lesser people would fail at being so dedicated to her care.

I guess it's lucky that the backpack thief was just looking for $$ and not savvy enough to be an ID thief.
Aug. 11th, 2011 05:53 am (UTC)
The Whirlwind is a force of nature, and can try the patience of an entire cathedral full of saints (which I am not), but she is also intensely loving, intensely loyal, and has more joie de vivre in her small frame than most people encounter in a year. You only get to hear about the Whirlwind drama, which is plentiful and always over-the-top, and you don't get them softened by the quiet moments when she snuggles in, or get to see her chase after me to say goodbye four or five times outside the front door when she has already said goodbye once and gotten a hug inside, and I'm only going out for an hour's exercise. Nor do you get to see her intense joy over simple things, like cold grapes, or the prospect that Daddy will come in and give hugs when he drops off Middle Daughter from rehearsal. It makes the disasters easier to bear.

Not only am I lucky that the backpack thief was not (I think based on what has turned up so far) an ID thief, but I'm also very lucky that he - or I suppose she, if I'm being fair - didn't throw the wallet into the wild jungle of foliage with a steep drop off that is right near the restaurant. If it had gone down there, I never would have found it (although I did attempt to look by flashlight that night, figuring if the thief was going to empty the wallet of cash and discard it, that was the most likely place to do so).
Aug. 11th, 2011 07:08 am (UTC)
I am glad you had a wonderful vacation but I am sorry it ended that way. That is a lot of bad things to happen at the same time. I'm glad you found your pack and that the thief hadn't stolen anything from you.
Aug. 12th, 2011 02:08 am (UTC)
I got off easy in the end. It could have been so much worse!

Life's an adventure, and I guess if there were no lows, we really wouldn't appreciate the highs properly!
Aug. 11th, 2011 09:57 pm (UTC)
What an incredible end to your vacation! After spending 10 days with my brother's family and the twins, I am impressed and amazed at what they have taken on--and equally amazed and impressed with your families commitment to your Whirlwind. We had only one bad day of travel. When A's medicine wears off about 7pm, he can begin to verge on uncontrollable if he doesn't have a safe way to begin expending all that excess energy. Fortunately, my brother is able to handle him during those stages and he eventually calms down. I must confess I was relieved (and feeling just a wee big guilty) that I could go to my separate hotel room (with the older nephew) and not have to deal with the craziness of getting two kids fed, bathed and finally into bed.

Aug. 12th, 2011 01:48 am (UTC)
Everyone who knows her is secretly relieved that my husband and I are the ones who have to take responsibility for her and deal with her. The ones who don't wonder what all the fuss is about. Such an attractive, bright, cheerful child, brimming over with energy, joie de vivre, and love for everyone! What on earth is all the trepidation about?

What doesn't tend to appear here is that while she is the girl who pushed over the little boy who deliberately pushed her down when she was playing hockey at age 5, and she can be tough and physical when she herself is attacked, I have never seen her initiate a confrontation with anyone. She loves people too much to want to do that.

She is intensely loyal and loves with a burning tenacity. She loves to learn. She feels the pain of others deeply, and wants desperately to help and console. She beams out more joie de vivre in a single day than most people feel in a year. She rushes headlong into life with passion, delight, and a driving need to explore, and it is that rush and that need to meddle with everything combined with the poor self-control and self-regulation that the ADHD gives her that gets her into trouble.

Then there is the rare moment when even she runs out of energy, and she turns inward, and feels the weight of her sins, and needs to seek out reassurance. She finds one of us, snuggles up, and asks for a neck rub, leaning in like a puppy, and soaking up the love she needs to go racing off again.

Yeah, it's a wild ride. Sometimes it's terrifying (see icon - that's her at 4). It's certainly exhausting. But so, so, so worth it.
( 15 comments — Leave a comment )



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