My parents graciously kept the kids overnight Saturday so that Jerry and I could go to a wine festival with family and friends. So yesterday afternoon, my mom and I planned to meet to reverse the kid exchange.
Since my parents watch Cera and Ant for us once or twice every few months, Mom and I had had a consistent meeting place – midway between our house in Apex and theirs in Winston-Salem – for a few years. But then I-40 was rerouted so that it bypasses our “place.” That first exchange was horrible because neither of us realized the change had been made – and we both worried that we wouldn’t be able to find the restaurant where we met or contact one another since my mom is perhaps the only adult on the face of the planet without a cell phone (in addition to my brother, who doesn’t have one either).
So a few months ago, we found a new meeting place – at a McDonald’s (with a Playplace, of course) off I-85. Before Sunday, we had met there two or three times.
And for some reason, I had it in my head that this McDonald’s was off exit 138. So even though I looked at the sign before exit 147 (which advertised a McDonald’s with a Playplace) and then thought to myself as I passed the exit that it looked really familiar, I kept on driving.
It was around exit 141 that I started to get a sinking feeling in my stomach. So I can’t say I was all that surprised when the signs for exit 138 didn’t include a McDonald’s.
Yet I still didn’t get off.
“Maybe it’s exit 137,” I reasoned with myself.
But there isn’t an exit 137 or an exit 136, for that matter. I finally pulled off at 135, 12 miles past what I now suspected had been my exit, and began the trek back to 147.
My mom and I had planned to meet at 3:30. It was already 3:45, and I couldn’t call to tell her that I was going to be substantially late.
So I made my return as quickly – yet safely – as I could. And when I finally reached the McDonald’s, I circled the entire parking lot before realizing that I didn’t see my mom’s car.
So I called my dad.
“Yeah, she left a little late,” he said. “She should be there shortly.”
But five minutes later, still no mom and kids. After 10 minutes had passed, I started to worry.
And then at 4:15, my cell phone rang. The call was from a number I didn’t know.
“Hello?” I said.
“Jamie?” asked the voice on the other line. “Your mom wants to know what exit you’re at.”
I wanted to laugh. But I stifled it long enough to answer, “147.”
“Thank you! Thank you so much!” I heard my mom saying in the background.
“I’m so sorry. I drove straight past the exit,” Mom said as she stepped out of her car. “And I didn’t even realize it until I got to exit 160.”
I paused for a moment before confessing, “I did the same thing.”
And we stood there in the parking lot of McDonald’s, hugging and laughing like a couple of lunatics.
So despite some wasted time, some wasted gas and a bit of worry, everything turned out fine.
And, as a bonus, my mom said she’s finally going to get a cell phone.