$5.37. That's what the kid behind the counter at Taco Bueno said to me.
I dug into my pocket and pulled out some lint and two dimes and
something that used to be a Jolly Rancher. Having already handed the kid
a five-spot, I started to head back out to the truck to grab some change
when the kid with the Emo hairdo said the harshest thing anyone has ever
said to me. He said, "It's OK. I'll just give you the senior citizen
I turned to see who he was talking to and then heard the sound of
change hitting the counter in front of me. "Only $4.68" he said
cheerfully. I stood there stupefied. I am 48, not even 50 yet a mere
child! Senior citizen?
I took my burrito and walked out to the truck wondering what was
wrong with Emo. Was he blind? As I sat in the truck, my blood began to
boil. Old? Me?
I'll show him, I thought. I opened the door and headed back inside.
I strode to the counter, and there he was waiting with a smile.
Before I could say a word, he held up something and jingled it in
front of me, like I could be that easily distracted! What am I now? A
"Dude! Can't get too far without your car keys, eh?" I stared with
utter disdain at the keys. I began to rationalize in my mind. "Leaving
keys behind hardly makes a man elderly! It could happen to anyone!"
I turned and headed back to the truck. I slipped the key into the
ignition, but it wouldn't turn. What now? I checked my keys and tried
another. Still nothing. That's when I noticed the purple beads hanging
from my rearview mirror. I had no purple beads hanging from my rearview
Then, a few other objects came into focus. The car seat in the back
seat. Happy Meal toys spread all over the floorboard. A partially eaten
doughnut on the dashboard.
Faster than you can say ginkgo biloba, I flew out of the alien
vehicle. Moments later I was speeding out of the parking lot, relieved
to finally be leaving this nightmarish stop in my life. That is when I
felt it, deep in the bowels of my stomach: hunger! My stomach growled
and churned, and I reached to grab my burrito, only it was nowhere to be
I swung the truck around, gathered my courage, and strode back into
the restaurant one final time. There Emo stood, draped in youth and
black nail polish. All I could think was, "What is the world coming to?"
All I could say was, "Did I leave my food and drink in here?" At this
point I was ready to ask a Boy Scout to help me back to my vehicle, and
then go straight home and apply for Social Security benefits.
Emo had no clue. I walked back out to the truck, and suddenly a
young lad came up and tugged on my jeans to get my attention. He was
holding up a drink and a bag. His mother explained, "I think you left
this in my truck by mistake." I took the food and drink from the little
boy and sheepishly apologized.
She offered these kind words: "It's OK. My grandfather does stuff
like this all the time."
All of this is to explain how I got a ticket doing 85 in a 40. Yes,
I was racing some punk kid in a Toyota Prius. And no, I told the
officer, I'm not too old to be driving this fast.
As I walked in the front door, my wife met me halfway down the hall.
I handed her a bag of cold food and a $300 speeding ticket. I promptly
sat in my rocking chair and covered up my legs with a blanky.
The good news was I had successfully found my way home.