It's hard to believe that one day I am receiving an honorary doctorate degree from Adrian College, and three months later I am bailing my car and my dog out of jail in the same city, which is my hometown.
It's just a shame that Digby can't write about our experience. My hands are still shaking from the trauma on what began as a simple day of working out at the gym, shopping, and a fast-food drive-through lunch.
It was the coolest day of the summer, with plenty of breeze, so Digby got to go along, with a promise we would drive by farms where cows live and stop for a bacon cheeseburger.
The lessons from my experience, which was costly emotionally and financially, include these tips:
w Watch where you park your car.
w Always carry emergency cash.
w If you can't find your car at the mall, you have not lost your mind. You may come close, but not a complete shutdown.
w Don't try to hide emotions in public. It is best to cry before you get mad.
When I walked out of the Adrian Mall I couldn't have been happier, swinging my packages and thinking what a lovely day it was. And then I walked, and walked, and walked, shaking my head with certainty that I had parked by the rear entrance to the mall next to a dark-blue van.
As tears gathered and I envisioned that someone had been able to unlock the door of Gladys, my 1991 car, and steal it, along with Digby, the tears gathered. Gladys isn't worth anything, but my beloved dog?
When I asked for help at the mall office, the officer in charge gave me the news.
The car had been towed because the spot I parked in was not a proper parking place. The van, also parked incorrectly, had escaped before the tow truck arrived.
The city police had taken Digby wherever they take stray dogs.
Now, it was time to get mad.
The officer said he had tried to find the owner of the white Oldsmobile by going into every store and asking every clerk if they knew who it belonged to. He also went to Sears and asked customer service to make an announcement.
The public address system that would have reached the entire mall was out of order. I hope it will be fixed before a more serious emergency happens.
So it was off to the towing company to retrieve Gladys. There, only cash was accepted - no checks, no credit cards. But this is 2002, when many people don't carry cash.
The demand for cash meant getting a ride to the bank to cash a check for $45, the towing fee. The next step was to go to the police station to bail out Digby.
The officer said, yes, he was a nice dog. Yes, he was well cared for, and yes, he was polite and obeyed. Still the fee was $25, again cash only, which I did have. I was told the money went to the city of Adrian for Digby's water and feed. Even though he had been in custody but a short time, it was still $25, as it would be if he had been there a month.
Not everyone comes for his or her dog so quickly, the officer said.
Then, following the police car, Gladys and I went to retrieve her most faithful passenger from the lock-up. The housing for stray dogs is on the same back street where I walked to school growing up in Adrian. Strange how your feelings about your old neighborhood can change.
I admit to my parking mistake. I admit, too, to the fright suffered when I couldn't find the car with Digby in it and then to the anger, embarrassment, and tears that sent emotions spinning.
But we did go to the restaurant after I found enough coins in the car for Digby's bacon cheeseburger, and we did see cows on the way home.
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