I was driving to work this morning and when I stopped at a stop sign, a butterfly flew into my car. In through my window and out the sunroof. It was cool. But it immediately caused my mind to flash on slightly LESS welcome visitors to my car and pretty soon I was chuckling at an old memory. I realized that this was before I blogged and I probably never told this story.
Back in 1999 I worked as an administrative assistant at Dayton’s Corporate Travel. Dayton’s is long gone now, but back then…
My aunt, who is a travel agent, got me the job. It was her office. I essentially filed invoices, answered the phones, printed airline tickets (e-tickets were an emerging technology), and hand delivered them to corporations all over Minneapolis. I loved that part. I got to walk around the city to different offices and I ended up knowing the city and the skyway system like the back of my hand.
Now, it is expensive to park in downtown Minneapolis, but as a manager, the company paid for a parking pass for my aunt. So, I would drive from my parent’s house to her house and then we’d go together to work. It was fine, I like my aunt, so it was enjoyable. The problem was that I was always running late. That surprises no one who knows me. It was an ongoing challenge for me, because my aunt was the boss, she couldn’t be late because of me, and I couldn’t afford to park on my own, so I had to make this work.
One morning, I was running exactly on time. Like I was planning to pull in to her driveway to the minute I was supposed to be there. Finally, on time!
Also, I would like to take a moment to reminisce about my car at the time. It was a 1982 Ford Mustang. It was orange. It was the first car I had with a sunroof. But it was not automatic. I had to unhook the latch and lift the large piece of glass and metal out of the top of the car and lay it into the hatchback in order to use it as a sunroof. Good times. But I really loved that car. It was awesome. I parked it in my parents driveway, outside year round.
Now, back to our story. On this morning, in what was a beautiful fall morning, the air was cool and crisp, but not yet cold. I did not have my sunroof open though.
I was just about to turn onto my aunt’s street. I was taking backroads because the freeway was backed up and I was trying to be on time. So I was waiting to turn left, there was a break in traffic and I started to go. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw movement. I turned my head, just a little, and saw……
A friggin’ field mouse was IN MY CAR!
Now, I am not afraid of mice. Not at all. But this was a small car. And it was IN MY CAR. It was frantic, crazed even, running hither and yon, all over my floorboard on the passenger side. Suddenly, that little bugger zoomed up the partition and headed straight toward…..ME.
I freaked out. FREAKED.OUT.
I screamed. I jerked the wheel, this way, that way, I was flailing. I was jumping around (best as I could in the driver’s seat, under a seatbelt) and he just kept coming.
All the sudden, a huge thump.
I had completely stopped looking at the road and driven up, over the curb, onto someone’s front lawn.
I slammed on the brakes, jammed the car in park, unbuckled, and flew out of the door. I was standing on a stranger’s lawn, panting, and my car, still running, was angled across the lawn, with tire tracks through their grass.
I was frantically scanning the car and trying to find the mouse. I couldn’t see it. He was right next to me and then he was just gone. I calmed myself and reminded myself, quite forcefully, that I was not afraid of mice, and crawled inside to find him. I looked under the seats, in the back, I couldn’t see him. He had just vanished.
After a few minutes I had no choice but to get back into the car and finish the drive. I was trembling with nerves. Even though mice don’t scare me, being trapped in a confined space with one is not exactly on my highlight reel.
So I carefully back out of this person’s front yard, wondering if I should leave a note to apologize for the tire tracks (I didn’t), and slowly drive to my aunt’s house, scanning my peripherals for the mouse.
Naturally, when I arrived, I was several minutes late. My aunt was not pleased. Until I told her the story. Turns out, she IS afraid of mice and refused to ride in my car. So I left my car at her house and we rode in her car to work.
All day long, I wondered what happened to that creature. When I got back to my car, I did another inspection and still couldn’t find him. I ended up just driving home. I never saw that mouse again, but let me tell you, for the longest time, I jumped at the slightest movement, thinking he was still there, stowing away in my orange Mustang.
Ah, the good old days. Twenty years old and my biggest concern was whether a mouse was hitchhiking in my car.