Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Learning the Hard Way

My dad always told me that there were three ways to learn something. You could read about it. Someone could tell you about it or you could learn the hard way. I thought that once you reached your 30's, the latter form of learning faded away, much like your memory and your desire to go to loud, smokey bars. Apparently, I was wrong. I am still quite capable of learning the hard way.

Last Thursday was a typical day of running errands. Vet. Costco. Grocery Store. Load Grace into the car. Take Grace out. Put her in stroller. Put Grace back in car. Load up stroller....aaannnd repeat. You know, the typical day of a SAHM.

Unexpectedly, the day was about to take a dramatic turn.

I loaded Grace into her car seat. I put the diaper bag in it's spot in the car. I closed the door and made my way to the back of the 'Burban to put all of our new Toys R Us treasures into the trunk only to find the tailgate locked. My heart instantly skipped a thousand beats. It was locked. Were the other doors locked? They couldn't be. THEY COULDN'T BE! It was hot out and getting hotter. The doors couldn't be locked.

I tried Grace's door. Locked. The passenger side door. Locked. Driver's side. Locked. The other back seat door. LOOOCCCKKKED.

I locked Grace in the car.

I LOCKED GRACE IN THE CAR!!!!!!!!!! On a 100 degree day. A wave of panic rushed over me as thoughts of Dateline specials came flooding back about mothers who forgot about their children in the car and went to work instead of dropping the kids off at daycare. At the end of the work day, they returned to the car to find a dead baby. CAN YOU IMAGINE? And here I was locking Grace in the car!!

Ok. No problem. We have OnStar. I just need to call the company, give them the secret password and voila, they will unlock the car.

Amazingly, my cell phone was in my pocket. I managed to lock everything else in the car, including my keys, but fortunately, not my cell phone. Small problem - I didn't have OnStar's number programed in my phone. UGH! Are you kidding me?! Ok. Stay calm. Still not a problem. I'll just call Court and he'll give me the number.

I call Court and as much as I'd like to say that I was calm and collected, I was nothing but hysterical. (Imagine lots of profanities coming from Alvin and the Chipmunks.) Court was stunned and, uhhh, shall we say displeased, at the news that his daughter was locked in the car on a day that was sure to soar above 100 degrees. Court didn't have the number and he wasn't near a computer so he couldn't look it up. He suggested calling 411 so I did. Information didn't have the number for OnStar so I asked to be connected to the Chevy dealership in Yakima.

The Chevy dealership gave me the number but by this time my hands were shaking and my brain was starting to shutdown. I asked them to repeat the number at least 10 times, but by the time I got off the phone and went to dial it, all the numbers were jumbled in my head and I kept misdialing.

By this time, people in the parking lot were beginning to notice the crazy woman (me) pacing around the car and peering in the windows every two seconds. No one stopped by and offered to help, but they stared and pointed nonetheless, which induced panic...and guilt... and A LOT MORE PANIC. Grace could see me peering in the windows and must have thought we were playing an uber game of peek-a-boo. Every time she saw my face press against the window, she started laughing. (I'm glad someone was in good enough spirits to see the humor in our predicament.)

(Note: This picture is just a reenactment.)
(Note to the note: I think she might have a flare for the dramatics! Can someone say "And the Oscar goes to...?!?!?)

Another bit of good news - we have a remote starter. I hate the heat so much that I remote start the care EVERY SINGLE TIME I get into my car. The remote starter allows the air conditioning to start running without the key being in the ignition...and I had done this as we left Toys R Us. Thank God! Grace was in the car with the air blowing.

I still hadn't heard from Court so I decided to take matters into my own hands and call 9-1-1. It was the first time I had ever called 9-1-1 (and hopefully my last). I was crying, of course, and the dispatcher was absolutely calm as if this was the 157th call of the day from a mom who had locked her baby in the car. He asked me important questions like what happened, where I was located and then some mundane questions which I am sure he was strategically using to keep me calm - like what is the baby's name? what color are her eyes? when was she born? does she sleep through the night yet? (ok this question made my blood pressure rise just a bit). Just then, the engine turned off. The remote starter only runs for 10-15 minutes and then the car automatically shuts off. Oh boy! We were definitely in crunch time now.

Luckily, the police cruiser pulled up only moments later. I explained the situation to the officer. He was clearly not happy with me and his first words were "These cars are impossible to open. You better get a lock smith on the way." Upon hearing these words, the flood gates opened. I tried to pull myself together by getting a locksmith on the horn but...Oh no! What's this? My cell phone is dead! The one that I bought precisely for a moment like this? How can my phone be dead? It was fully charged just a few minutes ago... not to mention it's BRAND NEW! How on Earth was I going to get a locksmith on site? Would the officer let me borrow his phone? Oh no. Oh no. Oh no. Oh nooooooooooo.

And then. A miracle. The officer had been sliding one of those special-unlock-the-doors-of-a-locked-car-gadget-that-police-officers-carry-with-them in the passenger side window. And then. I heard It. The officer heard It too. A POP! Like the pop of a car door unlocking. The car was unlocked! Hallelujah!

She is free at last, FREE AT LAST, thank God Almighty, SHE IS FREE AT LAST!

It was a miracle of epic proportions. Up there with the parting of the Red Sea and walking on water - at least in "my book" it was. I would've hugged the policeman but his gun scared me and I think I heard somewhere that if you touch an officer they can throw you a jail. I decided to play it safe (not to mention cool) so I buried my head in my hands, said thank you about a 100 times and cried tears of relief.

Fast forward about fifteen minutes.

The officer took a look at Grace to make sure she was ok and determined that she was just fine. Phew! Grace and I get back in the car, AC blasting, my hands still trembling. I needed to call Court. Last time he and I spoke, Grace was still locked in the car. He would want to know that she had been saved. But my phone was dead. The car charger wasn't working and I was an hour from home. I needed to call him but finding a phone was no easy task. It's not like pay phones are on every corner anymore. Again, thank goodness for OnStar. They have these built in phones in your car that normally you would use only when you've wrapped your car around a tree and you can't reach your cell phone, you know, an emergency. Well, lucky for me, it works just the same from the McDonald's parking lot. (Win-win!)

I finally get Court on the phone, excited to tell him that I problem solved by calling 9-1-1 and that the officer saved the day. Court, still displeased, informed me that he had raced back to his office, tracked down the number for OnStar, and called them over 45 minutes ago. It was Court who had saved the day - not the officer! (Good thing I didn't risk giving him a hug!!) Court was not aware that my cell phone had died so he thought that after I had gotten Grace out of the car that I had just gone about my merry little way without calling and informing that our daughter was no longer trapped and cooking in our car. Justly so, some one's feathers were a bit ruffled. It took us both several days to return to normal after this event. In fact, it has taken me over 12 days to write this entry!

Needless to say, Grace and I were lucky. Had we been in a remote area who knows what the outcome might have been.

So what have I learned from this little fiasco?

1. Buy a car with OnStar. Preferably one with a remote starter.
2. Program the number to OnStar in your cell phone. (Or put the little sticker that they give you when you buy the car in your car window that has OnStar's phone number on it. Yeah, they give you a sticker. Oops.)
3. Put a hide-a-key somewhere on your car. That way, even if (and when) technology fails, you will still have access to your car in an emergency.
4. If possible, avoid locking baby in car altogether.

Although I've clearly taken myself out of the running for Mother of the Year based on my above actions, hopefully, by sharing this story, I can prevent this from happening to you. You can learn what not to do (or what to do) by simply reading this post. Lucky for you, I've done all the learning the hard way for the both of us. Uhhhhh....you're welcome!!!


Claudia Olsen said...

Oh the joys of motherhood, no one can ever really prepare you. BTW it was Marty yesterday who didn't buckle Lilly up completely - oospey!

JTKusak said...

Hey Katie - This happened to us too! Husband locked Blake in car in Maui on 85 degree day and car had been sitting in sun ALL day. Locksmith got to car within 15min, but we were told if in dire situation you smash the windshield with whatever you can. Windshields are 'cheap' to replace but side windows, etc are not. I'm so glad it all worked out OK!!!

Jodi Kusak

Home Sweet Home Place said...

So true! Although it probably wouldn't be fun explaining the smashed windshield to the rental car place! Glad it all worked out for you and your husband!
I forgot to mention in my post that I did consider smashing a window. As there were no rocks or big heavy items in the parking lot, my next thought was dashing into Toys R Us, buying a bat and going to town. Think what the other mothers in the parking lot would have thought. "Oh don't mind me...I'm just bashing my car with a baseball bat to free my baby from the car! La dee dah!" Thank God it didn't come to that...although the looks on their faces would have been priceless.