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OtterSummer 8.27-Lost

The Grand Otter and I had not gotten good and lost yet this OtterSummer. Until today. She’d agreed to vacuum the house, but the vacuum, which had been cranky lately, decided to turn downright obstinate, so I decided it should go to the shop for a tune up. Most of the main floor got cleaned.

I looked up vacuum repair shops online, found one reasonably close, and called. Explaining my difficulty, the fellow on the other end of the call said, “Sure, just get it in by five.” I told The Otter to find her shoes, we were heading out.

Once in the car, I asked if she could navigate, since I had our destination up in Google Maps®, but she reminded me that she has really bad carsickness. “I can’t even hardly stand to look at my iPod screen,” she explained. So, we flew blind, since I can’t (by state law now) simultaneously drive and navigate. Even if it was legal, it’s beyond me.

I found the right street, though several dozen other cars had gotten there first. I pulled off into a parking lot to reconnoiter, and found that I was still a few blocks shy of our destination. I pulled back out into traffic, taking the first left turn, figuring I’d sneak up on the back of the place. I waited through two stop light cycles, then found that the back street I was imagining was not there. Back out onto the right street, but going the wrong way now, I made the first left, following a parking sign. I’d glimpsed our destination, but in that traffic, there seemed no way to get a car there. Circling through a couple of alleys and a parking lot, I came back to the right street only to see that there was, indeed, no way to drive to this shop. Turning around, back into that municipal parking lot I’d just slipped through, I parked and told The Otter she’d have to come with me. I could not leave her in that parked car in this heat and in that neighborhood, and I would not leave the car running. Besides, I needed her to carry the umbrella in case another downpour happened.

We looked like misguided explorers, her carrying that huge, furled up red umbrella and me with the floppy-footed vacuum, walking through the parking lots and out to the crosswalk, where we watched traffic for a while. The Otter stepped in a puddle on the way across the street, and we were there. An old-fashioned repair shop. I’m certain the proprietor knew where everything was located, it just looked like a mess to me.

”You’ll have to take this machine to Rockville,” he explained. “I can’t get parts for this model. Just call the toll free number on the front there, and they’ll tell you what to do.” I had not noticed the toll free number.

”But when I called, you told me you could work on this model,” I explained.

”I haven’t answered the phone all day. You musta talked with the new guy. He’s only been working here for a couple of weeks and he doesn’t know very much yet.”


We trudged back to the car where I called the toll free number only to find that several dozen owners were already in line ahead of me. I left notice for them to call me back and started plotting the way back home. The way we’d come looked terribly congested, so I decided to try a back way. Very scenic, and shortly I was disoriented, then lost. I asked The Otter if she would unplug from her iPod long enough to at least keep me company, but she declined. “Don’t blame me if we never get home, then,” I explained.

”Oh, I will,” she retorted. “You’re driving.” Don’t remind me.

My phone rang and I pulled into an apartment complex, parking in the prospective tenants’ space to pick it up. It was Dyson central. No, they had no record of us owning the machine. I’d just need to find proof of purchase and they’d schedule the repair. Oh, the closest repair facility is in Fairfax, which is on the far side of the Metro area; about as far as it could be and still be considered local.

We made it back home. I came upon a street name I recognized, flipped a coin, and we turned, then I turned again only to find a dead end, but discovered that street continued under the same name one block over. Finally, I found a familiar corner and we made it back to our little town. I was a little shaken.

The Otter and I have been lost plenty. Usually, she chews me out for getting lost and I play up the gravity of the situation. She doesn’t buy any of it. I’m supposed to dotter, I suppose, and my natural disorientation helps create a convincing presence. We were never that lost, anyway, and we did finally get found.

We stopped to get the butter I’d forgotten on my earlier shopping trip, and she reminded me that it was Friday and after three o’clock. One of my iron-clad rules here commands that I never drive after three o’clock on a Friday. No, it’s not Sabbath, it’s just that traffic grinds to a stop around three on Friday afternoons, not unlocked again until sometime after eight. Lucky we got lost when we did, or we’d still be out there somewhere, lost in traffic.

©2013 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved

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