So What I Got in the Wrong Car

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Susan Dromey Heeter photo

My niece Maeve talks with students about her travels.

By Susan Dromey Heeter,

Every once in a while, there are days so full of good stories, I am incredibly grateful I am alive, I can still move around painlessly, I am a citizen of this planet, I can hear, I can see, I can live.  Yesterday was a day I’ll muse joyfully on for a while, dear readers, a good one with some belly laughs, moments of insight so glorious I can only sigh and admit: that was a good life in a day.

It began with me getting into the wrong car.  My husband and I happen to work together and leave at 6 a.m. – in the pitch black that is January.  And, as I’m often fixing my breakfast of oats and blueberries, gathering my lunch, my books, my stuff, Dan will simply request, “Meet me in the car.”  

So, yesterday, in the dark, balancing my oats and blueberries, my bags, I opened the passenger side door and got in. I noticed both a new radio and that Dan was listening to a program so loud, I thought it on megaphone volume.  After I sat down, I looked over and saw it was not Dan behind the wheel, rather, a woman.  She remarked, “I think you’re in the wrong car.”  It took me a moment, but she was right. I laughed and said, “Oh my gosh – I’m so sorry!” And then Roberta introduced herself, told me she was outside in order to pick up her grandson for work, the grandson who lives next door.  

Susan Dromey Heeter, Joyful Musings

Well, Musers, I have not laughed that hard in a while. I’ve certainly opened the door to the wrong car before and even sat in it, but getting into a running car, with someone behind the wheel is a new one. When I told friends at work of my adventure, they laughed so hard we lost sight of the professional development we were working on.  Who wants to talk “data” when you can tell a story of such ridiculousness you have tears coming down your face.  It makes a Friday good, a life in a day memorable.

After arriving at work, mercifully, in the right car with my husband, my niece, Maeve, came to my school to tell stories of her adventures spending a semester in Rome.  She spoke to my high school cherubs, telling them of hostels and Italian buses, pizza, languages, hot baths in Budapest.  She spoke so eloquently, having created a wonderful presentation, my students were enrapt, asking questions, laughing, learning.

My favorite story was the one she told of a hostel she and her friends had booked, so excited that the four of them had a cheap place to stay, a room of their own, as they toured the European sites.  Alas, when they arrived, there was an 80ish year old man and his son in their room, suddenly, they learned they’d have unexpected roommates.  I asked if the man snored, Maeve admitted he not only snored but his sleep was so loud she thought he was dying. Mercifully, he was not, but Maeve did not sleep well that night.

And Maeve told stories of bathrooms, a necessary part of any travel. In one instance, she was pulling what she thought was the chain to flush the toilet in an Italian restaurant.  It turned out it was the emergency pull; the owner of the restaurant came to see what the emergency was, asking “Stai bene? Stai bene?”  Again, mercifully, she was fine but when he showed her she had to reach INTO the back of the toilet to flush it, Maeve learned another valuable lesson on the myriad of ways toilets work around the world.

I muse joyfully on stories, on hearing of adventures. Facts and data are good, I suppose, but in my mind a lot less interesting than unexpected car visitors, 80 year old roommates and learning how to flush a toilet in Italy.  

Enjoy, dear Musers, celebrate your own stories, tell them early and often and oh, do laugh and laugh and celebrate this lovely life. 

Susan Dromey Heeter is a writer from Dover who recently let her hair go au natural white. Writing has been her passion since her English majoring days at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst.  Dromey Heeter has lived in The Netherlands, Alaska and currently basks in all things New England, including the frigid winters. An avid swimmer, Dromey Heeter’s great passion is to bring back body surfing as most children have no idea how to ride waves without ridiculous boogie boards.

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