Your family leaves town for an overnight trip. You're all alone in the house. Party time, right?
Well, Mr. Excitement here had it all planned out: After volunteering at Columbia County's Summertime on the Canal, I'd swing by the office for some paperwork. After a quick trip to the grocery store for a new dust mop, I'd go home and clean house so the wife would be impressed when she go back.
Some things, no matter how noble and well-planned, just don't work out the way you had in mind.
First, while I was waiting on the family to finish packing, one of my neighbors pulls into the driveway. "Who built that new road into our neighborhood?" He asked. "Road?" I quizzed. We hopped in his car for a ride around the corner, and found that a nearby subdivision's homeowner had carved an access road from his back yard, through our neighborhood's greenspace buffer to our private street.
Our homeowner's association president was on top of things, it turned out. The trespassing neighbor had realized his mistake, and was prepared to make restitution for knocking down our trees. The lawyers will work out the details.
So after that start to the morning, I kiss the family goodbye and head to the canal. Alas, no one signed up to compete in the ice-cream and cobbler making contests, so my services weren't needed. I visited a few vendors to buy lunch and dessert, watched some of the kids from Ron Jones' ballet school perform, saw some watermelon-eating and seed-spitting contests, and met an Atlanta man who - no kidding - is a professional competitive eater.
Melting from the heat, I decided to head to the air-conditioned office.
My car wouldn't crank.
Anyone who wants to make a few bucks should sell jumper cables door-to-door. Obviously, no one has any. (Mine were in my pickup; I could hear them laughing at me from several miles away.) Finally, a nice couple with some heavy-duty cables hooked me up, but the car still wouldn't run. We later found out the battery had blown a cell.
To discover this, though, required getting the folks at Milton Reuben to send a tow truck. Three hours after finding the car DOA in the sweltering canal parking lot, I finally left the dealership in my own car, but with a lighter wallet.
So, I figured, the day isn't gone; I'll spend a little time at the office, take a short trip to Kroger, and everything is back to normal.
Well. When I pull up to the house, there's a pickup in my driveway. The fellow in it starts telling me about having left his phone and keys in my house when he delivered flowers from the funeral. My intuition starts telling me he's drunk and lost, because I don't have any flowers and we haven't had a funeral. And unless he's broken out a window, he hasn't been in my otherwise unoccupied house.
After a few minutes of trying to figure out his shifting story, the "lost" part was clear, but he got a little belligerent when I asked if he was drunk. This seemed to be about the right time to let the Columbia County Sheriff's Office check things out. A couple of deputies soon arrived and began quizzing my unwanted guest.
I was amazed at their patience. After more than two hours, and a visit from Gold Cross EMTs and a discussion with the man's girlfriend, they figured out he apparently had suffered a seizure and was hopelessly disoriented.
The unexpected visitor's girlfriend brought spare keys and picked up the man and his pickup, and by 9:30 p.m. I was alone again, at last.
I went inside and locked all the doors. I'd had enough excitement for one day, so the house cleaning would have to wait. I warmed some leftovers, read a book and went to bed.
And, believe it or not, dear wife, that's why the house was still a mess when you got back home. Really.
(Barry L. Paschal is publisher of The Columbia County News-Times. E-mail comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.)
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