Country Gal + Big City = Crisis
Ever Have One of Those “Life's Most Embarrassing Moments”?
This little story took place many, many years ago ... Some of you can relate to the simpler times of the ‘60s ... Some of you were not even born yet or even a “twinkle in your Daddy’s eye” ... and some may have even forgotten ... way back when.
No matter your age or your walk in life at this particular time, you should be able to identify with this moment in my life because everyone has experienced ... some of ... “Life’s Most Embarrassing Moments”.
Since we all live through these trying times in our lives I thought it might be kind of fun to share one of my “Most Embarrassing Moments”. It goes like this ... ... ...
A "Big City" Adventure Begins
A much younger version of myself ... got a brand new job ... with one of the area’s largest banks, in the big city of Memphis, Tennessee. At the time this story took place I had always lived in small towns, usually within 50 miles of Memphis, across the river in Arkansas. I had visited the “big city” on many occasions. However, on those visits I did not usually do the driving. That’s an important fact to this story.
We lived in West Memphis, Arkansas, which is just across the Mississippi river and only about 20-30 minutes drive from downtown Memphis. Getting to and from my new job was going to be something brand new for this fairly recent high school graduate, who had no solo “big city” driving experience. However, I was 19 years old and as everyone knows, all 19 year olds can do anything and know everything too, or at least they think they can.
This new adventure was a very important thing for this country girl! I considered it my first step to soon becoming a ... “city girl”. I had always been a “city girl” at heart and disliked living in or near the small towns my whole life. I was about to be free of those nosey neighbors who always have to put teenagers and everyone else too, under the microscope.
I was still living at home with my Mom and three younger siblings. My parents had recently divorced and money was very tight. Everyone in the household did their share to contribute what they could to make sure the bills were paid. This new job would be a much needed help. We had only one car (and it was a standard shift) and my Mom and I would be sharing it. This wasn’t really going to be a problem since my workday was over at 5:00 pm and Mom’s job at a nearby factory was the third shift and didn’t start until 8:00 pm. So, we had a plan. Right? Right!
March Weather ... Traffic ... High Heels
My new job began in March. The weather in this area is still pretty cold in March, especially in downtown Memphis with the river just a few blocks away. With much excitement I head to this new adventure dressed in my best business attire and high heel shoes. Of course, anxious and nervous as you would expect on this first day.
On the weekend before, Mom and I made a trial run, so I’d know a little more about how to get around in the standard shift car in the “big city”. Along my route I had to drive up a pretty steep incline and stop at a traffic light. Unlike an automatic transmission, with a standard shift, you have to have one foot on the clutch and one on the break and be pretty quick to hit the accelerator when the light turns green and hopefully not roll backwards into the cars behind you. And do this little maneuver with high heels on too. That was always a fear of mine. This made a lasting impression on me that driving an automatic transmission is the only way to go when driving in the city.
Well, I make it across the river and head to that dreaded hill. And whoa ... there was lots more traffic on Monday morning than there was on Sunday, when we did our trial run. I make it safely up that hill and didn't run over anyone along the route. So I was a little proud of myself for this little accomplishment! The bank building was in site! Yea! I was starting to settle down a little when suddenly I realized ... I was going to have to park somewhere ... in a public parking lot. That’s an important fact to this story too.
Must Find a Parking Lot!
As in any city, parking lots are everywhere and for the most part they all look the same. I finally decide on a lot and park my car. Making sure everything is all locked up, I deposit my money in the meter, take a big breath and proceed to walk the 2-3 blocks, and hopefully not be late for my first day on the new job. I was on my way to this new phase of my life!
It seemed like it was miles away to that bank, even though I had it in my eyesight, especially in high heels and that cold March wind blowing from the river. In all my anxiousness it never occurred to me to note the address of the parking lot. Another important part of this story.
Well, I finally do make it to the bank and report to HR ... and I was on time too! Pretty much the rest of that day is a blur because it’s been 40 plus years ago now.
A blur except for this life changing little fact. Until this new adventure I had always been called by my full first name, Patricia, or my nickname of choice and what my family still call me, Trisha. If someone referred to me as Pat I would not usually even recognize them. However, when the HR manager called me Pat and then introduced me to my new co-workers as Pat, I was not going to buck him. After all, who wants to be labeled a troublemaker just out the starting gate, so I went along with it. It was a dominoe effect and stuck. I guess it was appropriate, since I was now becoming a “city girl”, I suppose a different identity was natural. Nowadays the only people who call me Patricia are family (or bill collectors, cause it’s my legal name and on all that kind of stuff).
BC - - Before Cells
The Day Is Not Over When The Work Day Ends
So, I made it through that first day ... the awkward lunch hour and trying to fit in with these new co-workers ... learning new things I never even heard of before in this huge corporation and with a new name. Five o’clock finally comes and it’s time to head home. Along with a few hundred other employees, I make it to the ground floor and out of the building. By this time I'm beginning to wonder if I really was a "city girl" at heart because I sure felt out of place in this environment.
I step outside and brrrr, it’s even colder than it was in the morning and by now I am certainly not fresh with a spring in my step, especially in those stupid high heel shoes.
Once outside the building, it dawns on this novice “city girl” ... I don’t remember where I parked my car! I look around and seem to remember that I came from that direction and start walking, trying very hard not to appear stupid, confused and a bit scarred. Before long, but what seemed like hours, it was very apparent ... my car was lost! Someone had obviously stolen it or moved it from where I thought it was! Then I realize, Mother can’t come pick me up, because I have our only car. I knew she would help me out of this predicament, because she was that kind of mom. She could come up with a solution to any crisis. Now ... I just had to find a phone.
Three Sisters Ladies Dept. Store
Mother To The Rescue
Remember ... this was forty plus years ago and we never even heard of cordless phones, much less cellular phones. It was BC (Before Cells). Many things were different way back then. Stores actually did not stay open all night or even past 6 p.m. most nights. What was I going to do and how would I get in touch with Mother ... since it was now after 6 p.m.
Somehow, in all my panic, I recalled that some of the larger department stores were open late on Mondays and Thursdays. Thank goodness it was Monday or I would have wondered around, until my family sent the police to look for a "country, wannabe city girl". Limping and fighting tears, I find my way to the big “Three Sisters” Ladies Clothing store. It was so nice to be out of the cold and get warmed up. I begged an associate, to let me use a phone. When Mother answered the phone I broke down. At first she thought I had had an accident. She finally understood that I was ok, physically anyway, but really did not understand how my car could be lost. Calmly, as only she could be, she said “Patricia, where are you?. I’ll be there as soon as possible.” Thank goodness she had a friend that was visiting and they came to my rescue.
In about 20 minutes they were there and had to almost scoop me up. I remember feeling so worn out and beaten down, all I could do was fall into the back seat of the car. It didn't take long for them to realize ... I had no idea where the car was. So, as we drove around they were asking me this and that, trying to detect where I had parked the car. Finally, we found the poor lost thing. That little red VW was just sitting there, on an almost empty parking lot, waiting for me. I was so glad to see that it had not been stolen or rolled away, but, I was too overwhelmed to even think about driving and anyway Mother wouldn't hear of it by then.
As you can imagine, as in most families, I was the talk of what was going on for a while. My family related the story much more than I ever did those first few weeks of "The Post Lost Car Episode".
Lifelong Lesson Learned!
Since that very tense, learning moment, many years ago, whenever I’m in a situation and folks are ask to share one of “Life’s Most Embarrassing Moments”, I will sometimes share this story. It's not my only “LMEM”. Once, at an event, I even won a “Bragging Rights” Award!
Needless to say, but I will anyway, I ALWAYS make note of where my car is parked whenever and wherever I have to rest my vehicle in a large parking lot.
Can you just imagine what was going through my mind on my first Disney trip? Thank goodness, I was with my sister who had been there before and knew how it all worked! I was able to breathe a sigh of relief as she reassured me we would not be wondering around for hours looking for our car, because they were experts in logistics and customer service.
This is not my one and only “LMEM”. Somehow, those times always seem to creep in once in a while, as we each move forward along our paths. History has taught me to accept them.
These “Life’s Most Embarrassing Moments” keep things from getting boring ... along my Adventure, known as Life.
History of High Heels
Since High Heels are mentioned a few times in this little story, I thought it might be fun to share a little information I came across ... about why we torture ourselves as we cram our feet into them ... all for a Fashion Statement. Give me tennis shoes any day. Nowadays, I don't even have a pair of these torture treatments in my closet.