It Was All About The Pancakes

Until It Became All About Our Friendships

May 3, 2011 by

I registered for a 5 mile race with my friends Laurie and Tara.  We agreed to meet at the start around 7:15 AM, do the five miles and then go out for pancakes after.

This particular race was the first of a three race series to benefit The Ohio Canal Corridor (aka The Towpath).  For each race you run, you get a very nice tech running shirt to commemorate the day.  Participation in all three races gets you a snazzy bonus shirt.

Laurie arrived at the start shortly before I did.  The race was to begin at 8AM, but the roads leading to the start were closing at 7:30.   Laurie sent Tara a text message to tell her where we were parked and then we sat in my car waiting for her to arrive, wondering why the hell we were there.  We were both cold, it was way too early on a Sunday and neither of us wanted to run.

As the start of the race neared, Tara called, very distraught.  She had overslept.   Of course Laurie and I had to harass her a bit and decided that the alarm hadn’t actually malfunctioned, it was just a part of Tara’s plan to get out of the race.   She’s a smart cookie.

Tara was very upset about missing the race because she wanted to get the bonus shirt and she wanted to go for pancakes.  I suggested that she still meet us for pancakes and, after she promised to run the five miles on her treadmill, I said I would carry her chip with me so that she could get credit for running the race and hopefully still get the bonus shirt.

I hung up the phone and Laurie and I laughed some more  at Tara ‘accidentally’ oversleeping, but when Laurie saw me looking for a place to attach Tara’s running chip to my shoe, she was mortified.  “You can’t do that!!!  They will disqualify you!!”   And the downside of that is…..?   Can they disqualify you from last place?  “They may not let you run in ANY MORE Towpath Races!!!”  Are they also going to forbid me to poop in public?  Because I really don’t have any desire to do that either.

Laurie knows me pretty well, but it still amazes me that she thinks not being allowed to run would be a punishment for me in some way.   Honestly my worst reaction to someone telling me I could not run would probably be something like ‘Yeah?  OK.’   The real reaction would be something like getting The Best Present Ever.

I decided to tuck the chip in my pocket.  I realized it would probably be too far away from the readers to register anything, but if it did register I could always claim that I was holding it for her in case she showed up in time to run.  Later, over pancakes, I said I should have tucked it in my sock.  Tara said that could cause some irritation, which made me laugh.  With all of the aches and pains and inability to breath, a timing chip in my sock would barely be noticeable.

Laurie ran the race, I unwillingly participated.   I was getting ready to call Tara to give her directions to where we’d decided to go for pancakes when Laurie spotted Tara getting out of her car in the parking lot.  After a brief discussion, we decided they would follow me to the pancake destination.

I pulled out of the lot and waited for my friends to follow.  Laurie and I were both in our cars watching as Tara backed out of her parking spot.  I imagine we were both thinking the same thing at the same time “DON’T HIT THE…..pole….” as taillight shrapnel went whizzing through the air.  I have to admit that I started laughing.  I really thought that she was not going fast enough to do much more than break the taillight.  I pulled back into the lot and all three of us got out of our cars to inspect the damage.

I won’t go into details, but it was not good.  Apparently the pole had some fight in it.  Somehow I felt responsible.  I should have beeped.  I should have suggested we meet at the pancake spot when we spoke earlier.   I shouldn’t have laughed.  I felt awful.  OK, I was still kind of laughing, but there was guilt too.

We picked up the remains of the taillight and car pieces and decided to go off to get pancakes.   Naturally, any time anyone is following me, I run some red lights to see how brave they are.  They weren’t brave at all.   We got to the pancake place, I parked and started gathering Tara’s race packet and shirt to give to her and Laurie’s gloves, which she had left in my car.  I could hear Laurie sort of yelling and looked over to see her waving her arms, a half exasperated, half amused look on her face.

I got out of my car and asked her what she was ranting about.  “I was putting my sweatshirt on and the door closed and MY KEYS are IN THE CAR!!!”  This time I could not suppress all out, bent-over, belly laughter.

Over the years I’ve learned that it is really not helpful to get angry or irritated or upset in bad situations.  After the initial panic/fear/anger/exasperation strikes, I try to take a step back, take a deep breath and approach the situation calmly and rationally.   This, of course, is much easier when it’s not your keys sitting on the front seat of a locked car.

I asked Laurie if she had AAA.  She said yes, but her phone and wallet were IN THE LOCKED CAR!!  Since I have AAA and a phone, I had her use mine and we decided to go in and have pancakes while we waited for AAA to arrive.

Our food showed up at the table and Laurie was able to take about two bites before the phone rang notifying us that AAA had arrived.  Laurie went down to meet him and was gone for what seemed like an hour.  Tara and I had nearly finished our meals when Laurie returned to tell us that the AAA guy was unsuccessful.

I suggested we try calling the local police department to see if they could have any luck.  Laurie didn’t think they could help and she and Tara were developing an elaborate plan involving changing cars, picking up Laurie’s son from his basketball game, returning to the car, etc.

I decided to go ahead and call the police anyway.   The worst that would happen is we didn’t get into the car and wasted another 15-20 minutes, the best would be that the car was opened by a super hot single cop who has a thing for sweaty chicks.

The dispatcher was really nice and said an officer should show up in a few minutes.  We went down to the car and almost immediately an officer pulled in.  He wasn’t super hot, but he was definitely adorable.  But not single.  Darnit.

Officer Adorable pulled up behind where Laurie and Tara had parked.  He was in his car filling out papers with the window open.   Tara was in a panic that he would see her broken taillight and start asking questions.  Of all of the things I could have said to try to reassure her (He doesn’t know it’s your car.  It happened in a different city.  He doesn’t know you didn’t report it.  He doesn’t know it happened today.)  I chose “It’s not like you hit a person!”    Tara’s eyes got as wide as saucers “SSSHHHHHHH!!!  SHHHHH!!!  Don’t say that!!  A pole! It was a pole!  I hit a pole!!”   The desperate sincerity in her voice and the complete silliness of the situation had me laughing all over again.

Officer Adorable got a slim jim out of his trunk (not the kind you eat, the kind that opens car doors) and went to try to open the car.  Laurie repeated that the AAA guy was not able to get into the car.  I said that I was sure Officer Adorable was much more capable than the AAA guy, and Officer Adorable agreed.  I didn’t actually call him Officer Adorable while he was standing there.

The slim jim did not work so Officer Adorable went back to his trunk and pulled out what looked like a giant corkscrew, a doorstop and a blood pressure cuff.   He wedged the doorstop thingy in the car door and inserted the blood pressure cuff thingy and started pumping air into the cuff.   “I don’t think you’re going to get a reading from that thing.  If you do, I’m outta here. “

Suddenly, the deafening sound of a car alarm broke through the calm Sunday morning “BWOOOP BWOOOP BWOOOP!!!”   We started cracking up.  The door was not open, and the alarm was crazy annoying.  I imagined all of the people in the restaurant mumbling about someone’s F***** car alarm and why don’t they shut it off.  Officer Adorable also seemed to be amused.

I think the alarm pushed Officer Adorable to try a little harder to open the door because shortly after, the door popped open and the three of us spontaneously burst into applause, whooping and cheering as if the Browns had just scored the winning touchdown in the Super Bowl.   Officer Adorable said that was the first time he had ever had an audience cheer for him at a lockout.

Officer Adorable let go of the door and I saw it start to swing closed.  I wasn’t sure if it was still locked, but I was not about to take the chance.  Risking serious injury, I made a leaping dive and threw myself between the car and the door, preventing another lockout.  Actually, I just stepped forward and grabbed the door with my hand, but I like the drama of sacrificing myself for the greater good.

The alarm was still blaring “BWOOP BWOOP BWOOP!!”   I yelled to Laurie “MAKE IT STOP! MAKE IT STOP! MAKE IT STOP!”   She reached into the car and shut the alarm off and the door once again started to close.  Seeing the key still on the seat, I grabbed the door.  “GET THE KEYS! GET THE KEYS! GET THE KEYS!”   I like repeating things three times.   Beetlejuice! BeetleJuice! Beetlejuice!

Laurie rolled her eyes at me and grabbed the keys.   Then she looked at the door and said something like “See?  The door is still locked.  Stupid car.”   After some more laughing and recapping, we called an end to a very eventful morning.

At the end of the day, I don’t really remember how miserable I was trying to eke out my first five mile run in over six months,  although I’m quite sure I was very miserable.  What I hope to never forget are the supposedly malfunctioning alarm clock, the improperly placed utility pole and Officer Hottie with his superior lock-picking skills.  Most importantly, I hope to never forget a chilly Sunday morning spent cracking up with my two wonderful friends.

About the Author

Sheila Strekal Has Written 6 Articles For Us!

I live in Cleveland, OH and work as a developer in Information Technology. Two dogs and a cat allow me to live with them, but only if I provide food. I have Activity ADD, so the things I do during my non-work hours change regularly. The things that have remained consistent are kickboxing and yoga. Kickboxing and yoga seem to be at odds with each other in a philosophical sense, but they are both wonderful ways to work out stress. My love of animals has also remained consistent throughout my life. Through the years I’ve had several people tell me I should share my writing, but I am an extremely private and somewhat shy person so the idea of letting anyone in scares the crap out of me.
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