Locked Out…

Methodist McKinney Hospital was bitterly cold and I’d been sitting around with Hubs since 730 a.m. while he checked in for a life changing event.

It was now 1040 and he’d been ‘taken back,’ not in time, or because he was once laid off, or to see the goings on behind the scenes at a theatre,

He’d been ‘taken back’ to the operating room.

I was longing to escape the below zero (or so it seemed) temperatures and relax in the humidity and heat of the Texas summer so as soon as I could politely gather our belongings I nodded and smiled my goodbyes to the orderly who had come in to empty the rubbish bin and the nurses behind the station and made a bee-line for the front door.

I had at least two hours to kill and slowly walked to my car relaxing in the pleasantly warm (most-times ungraciously called brutal) southern sunshine.  I stripped off my cardigan and stood for a few moments beside my car allowing my body to thaw.

The Lexus was an oven and stepping into it I melted.  All remembrances of almost being frozen quickly evaporated and I cranked up the air-conditioning and headed to WinCo.

After parking I grabbed my cardigan and my wallet, locked Hubs’ keychain in the glove compartment and checked my phone for messages.

“Surgery has started.  Patient is doing well,”  my text from the operating room informed me.

So far so good I thought as I pulled on my cardigan, found a landmark so I would be able to locate my car later, and made my way into the store.

I measured and labelled bulk nuts and dried fruit, gathered the rest of my groceries and made it to the self checkout in less than 40 minutes congratulating myself on my efficient use of time while Hubs was suspended in an unconscious limbo.

I was pushing my cart to the car happily smiling to myself when the horrible truth dawned on me.


Hubs’ car key had snapped in the ignition a few weeks ago and we were sharing.  This works most of the time because we only have one car but something told me that today it probably wasn’t going to work at all.

The key was on his keychain in the glove compartment.

“Maybe I forgot to lock it,” I thought optimistically knowing, before I even reached out my hand to try the door, that I had been extra diligent in securing the car because that’s what Hubs would have wanted me to be.

I tried every door, even the boot and ran my hand along the undercarriage in case we still had a spare in a magnetic box but no.

The Lexus was locked up like Fort Knox and the keys were inside.

I was stranded.

Hubs was nearing the end of his surgery.

And I’d recently cancelled our AAA.

I couldn’t panic so I took a few deep breaths and remembered I had Geico Roadside Assistance, the reason I had cancelled my 35 year old membership with the Automobile Association of America.

Today I was going to find out if I’d made a horrible mistake.

I calmly walked back into the store


and told one of the staff at customer service my plight secretly hoping he would say,

“I can break into a car Ma’am, just show me where you’re parked.”

But he didn’t.

I sat down to call Geico and by-passed the on-line service offered through my mobile app.  I wanted to hear a kind voice at the other end of the line assuring me that,

“I’ll have someone there directly Massah Vivienne, just leave it to me.”

I was lucky, I did get a kind voice who asked me if I felt safe?

“Oh yes,”  I said, “I’m in a busy store.”


“Is the engine running?”

“No,” I answered thinking, I’m so glad there isn’t a child or a dog in there!

“No problem,” she said, “We’ll have you on your way in 60 minutes.”

An hour!…I checked my watch, I still had plenty of time and worrying wouldn’t bring my knight-in-shining-armor along any faster.

Or would it?

“The first roadside assistant isn’t responding,” my kindly operator told me, “I’m trying another one.  Are you still with me Ma’am?”

“Yes I am,” I said feeling as though I was on some crisis help line, which I was I suppose.

“Auto Rescue says he can be with you in 35 minutes.”

I breathed a quick prayer of thanks, worrying had shaved 25 minutes off my wait and 35 minutes suddenly seemed like nothing!

“I’m texting you his location and you can track him.  Just make sure you answer your phone even though it’s an unknown number.  He’s going to call you when he arrives in the vicinity.”

I nodded distractedly as my cellular dinged with the tracking information and estimated time of arrival and my kind Geico operator and I bade each other farewell and disconnected.

I twiddled my thumbs for a few moments, the minutes were dragging painfully so I pulled up my Mission of St. Clare morning prayer and was reading the lessons and versicles when another text came through from the hospital,

“Physician is nearing the end of surgery and all is well.”

I could make it back while he’s still in recovery, I thought and returned to my prayers.

Auto Rescue arrived 3 minutes sooner than expected and without much ado popped my car door open.

I retrieved Hubs’ keys breathing another prayer of relief that I hadn’t locked the glove box, and silenced the alarm before noticing my knight was holding out his iPad for me to sign so that he could continue on his merry way rescuing other maidens/dowagers in distress.

My phone buzzed,

“Surgery is over and your loved one is in recovery.”

Speeding to his bedside was out of the question so I breathed deeply through the red-lights and weaving traffic.

As I was parking my final notice appeared on my screen,

“We are about to go to his new room 14 on the 2nd floor.”

I dashed through the humidity into the frigid air of the hospital


and made it to his room with a few moments to spare.

I casually stood up when he was wheeled in and kissed him awake.

Then I sat down and calmly transferred the lone Lexus key onto my keychain.

For the next few weeks I’d be the designated driver and I wasn’t going to be left on the wrong side of the car door again.

I settled down to watch my blue eyed cowboy come around pondering the duplicity of my mind:

On the one hand I thought I had a handle on the upcoming surgery and Hubs’ long and painful recovery.

On the other hand while settling into auto-pilot the fact that we only had one car key, not on my keychain, wasn’t on my radar suggesting that I was more distracted than I thought.

I did find out though that Geico’s Roadside Service had worked very well and cancelling AAA  a few months ago hadn’t been a horrible mistake.


Switching to the little green Gecko had been a good decision.






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