It seems like all of the really random, stupid, ridiculous adventures happen when the kids are with me. I don't know why. Locked out of the house, car battery dies while we're at Sonic happy hour in 90 degree weather, drive halfway to the store with the diaper bag on top of the car, get all the way through the line at Walmart (and we all know the line is the worst effing part at Walmart) and discover I left my wallet at home. Etc etc and so on and so forth.
So yesterday, like everyday, Jr. and I went to pick J up from school. The school doesn't really have an efficient pick-up/drop-off routine, especially for the kindergarteners who must actually be picked up by someone over age 10 and the teacher has to visually see that person before letting them out of the line. The kindergarten classes let out around the side of the building instead of the front, and I guess there's no buses for kindergarten. As a matter of fact, now that I think about it...I've never seen a school bus at this school. Huh. I guess it's a true neighborhood school, everyone in walking distance? So anyway, although it's nice for safety, having to actually get out of the car and make visual contact with the teacher at pick-up means we have to park somewhere and get out and walk to the classroom. Because of this system, parking becomes a premium when school lets out at 3:15. If you're not there to score a space in front of the school by 3:05, you're looking at parking in the neighborhood, sometimes 2-3 blocks away. If you're like me, with a younger sibling in tow, that means pushing a stroller or trudging through inclement weather with a 2 year old. Not fun.
(There is a point to this). Yesterday, even though I didn't get to the school until around 3:10, I happened upon a car pulling away from the curb really close to the crosswalk out front right as I came by. Score! I parallelled, picked up J, talked to the teacher for a few minutes, and started loading the kids into the car. J got in, buckled up, no problem. I went to put Jr. in the his car seat, which is on the passenger side by the curb, and he decided to pull the old "you'll have to fold me in half like origami to get me into the carseat" routine. In the process, he kicked and knocked my car keys out of my hand. I looked down at the floor -- no keys. I looked out at the ground, expecting the keys to be in the gutter next to the car. And that's when I saw the keys sliding down into the storm drain we were parked next to. Not a regular gutter. A storm drain. MY KEYS WENT INTO THE STORM DRAIN. Meaning I couldn't start the car. Or drive home. Or get into the house if we decided to walk home.
It was a classic "That did NOT just happen" moment. I finished strapping Jr. into the car, ignoring J repeating incessantly "What happened? What just happened? Why are you looking at the ground like that? What are you looking at? What happened?" I tried to kneel down in the space between the car and the gutter (I mean storm drain) and realized this was a very deep storm drain. As in, I couldn't see the bottom, but I could see rungs of a ladder going down the side from under a manhole. Crap.
Hey wait, manhole! If there's a manhole, then maybe...who do you call in this situation? Who can open a manhole? The manhole had "City of Aurora" stamped on it, and luckily it was the keys and not the smart phone that fell into the storm drain. Thanks to Google, three phone call transfers later I was in touch with the Aurora Storm Drain Office (who knew?), and they said they'd send someone out to help me when they could. 45 minutes later -- 45 loooong minutes of trying to occupy the kids in the car with no radio, no heat, no buttons to push and too cold outside to take them onto the school playground while we waited -- a very nice man named Ralph showed up. He popped the manhole cover, climbed down into the storm drain, and immediately found the keys amongst the leaves and debris at the bottom, telling me, "You're very lucky there wasn't any water flowing down there today ma'am, otherwise your keys would have been on their way to the reservoir."
In less than 5 minutes my keys were back in hand, and when I asked him how much I'd be charged for this little escapade, he told me the only payment he needed was the look of relief on my face when he came up with those keys. Chivalry isn't dead, after all. I most certainly will be singing Ralph's praises to his boss tomorrow.
When we got home I pretty much knocked the kids over to get to their Halloween buckets. If ever there was a need for a Reese's Peanut Butter Cup at the end of the day...
Practice makes perfect
7 years ago