Monday, December 14, 2009

Drive Thru Before There Were Any

In my previous post, my sister left an Anonymous comment about my father picking me up at Bay's Drug Store on North Street in Middletown, NY.  My poor father was my chauffeur to and from many different jobs in my teen years.  There was Gilman's Cleaners, which still exists and has the exact same sign as when I was 17 years old, a full 36 years ago.  My job was to prepare the log for the delivery driver.  I took my time as I got paid by the hour, but you can only make writing a list last so long.  One of my favorite memories was having to walk to work in 15 degree temps while it sleeted and snowed outside.  It was too dangerous for my father to drive in, so I bundled up and walked - to and from - work.  Gilman's was a good 2.2 miles from my home (I just checked Google maps and it was exactly 2.2 miles).  I remember how quiet the streets were, the neon signs of businesses blinking in the falling snow.  As I passed homes, I could see the warm lights on in the windows (I was walking in the evening after it was already dark).  I always loved to imagine each home as a cozy place of happiness - imagination is a lovely thing - it can take you anywhere and paint life with beautiful colors.  I still remember very clearly the feeling of walking that night in the snow and cold.  Luckily, it was not windy, so that made the wind chill the same as the temperature, which, although it was quite cold, I was very warm in all my layers, walking briskly and crunching over the icy sidewalks.

I also worked at Bay's Drug Store.  That was my first job when I was 15 years old, not counting the babysitting I did before that time.  Over the years I worked at the brand new mall - in practically every clothing store.  I still have plastic pants hangers from the Barbara Moss teen clothing store I worked in.  They allowed us to take home extra hangers now and then - and I still have them.

One thing I did that drove my poor father nuts and my daughter did to me once she came along.  When he had to pick me up, I was never waiting outside for him.  I was always impatient and would go back inside and talk or do something else.  Invariably when my father arrived, I didn't know it and he would be irritated as he waited for me.  One spring day, my father got tired of waiting for me.  He was ticked off and decided he would come in and bellow for me.  He did this and I was contrite and apologetic (although I did it again the next time - can you just slap me?). As we walked out the door, a sight met our eyes.  My father had evidently pulled up and parked parallel to the store on the opposite side of the street.  When he exited the vehicle, he slammed the door so hard that he unknowingly threw it into reverse.  As he walked into the store, behind him, the car backed up and curved (since he turned the wheels into the curb).  The large 1970's boat car managed to fit between two other parked cars on the other side of the street as it turned at right angles and went quickly and with some force into the Newberry's store glass window.  There it stopped and parked amid the broken glass.  People had stopped and stared.  A crowd was gathering.  No one was hurt - thank God - or a humorous story would not be humorous at all, and my life would be different.  No other car was damaged - just Newberry's window and various and sundry articles that had been in the window.

This is what met our eyes when we exited Bay's Drug Store.  Now, in order to understand the magnitude of this, you must understand that my father was the Drivers Ed teacher for the local high school, and he often taught during the summer at other high schools in the region.  To say he was well known would be an understatement.  To say this was embarrassing to him would also be an understatement.  To say that he probably had to restrain himself from choking me on the spot would also be an understatement.  And the final understatement?  I stayed well clear of him for days.  I said not a word - not even sorry - on the way home because I knew he was so angry if I made a peep, I might really regret it.  I don't think I made him wait after that.

I'm surprised he didn't tell me to walk to work after that - and perhaps sometimes I did.  I don't remember.  My parents and I were remembering this event the other day when I was up visiting them.  My dad is quite old and infirm now, and he laughs at the memory, as does my mom.  But back then?  No one - believe me - no one was laughing, except maybe my sister......

Did I mention that karma bit me?  My daughter did the same thing to me, but she was far worse.  Not only did I always have to go in after her, I had to then find her because she was never anywhere near the door where she was supposed to be.  Don't they say "what goes around comes around?"  Well, in my case, it did with a vengeance. although I never wrecked anything with my car while going to find her, thank God!!

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