Tara and Mom’s Not-So Excellent Adventure

Pardon the reference to the 1989 movie “Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure” but that movie title just seemed so hilariously appropriate for what happened to me and my daughter, Tara, Saturday night, May 21, 2016.

I had watched the Preakness horse race earlier that evening, disappointed that my horse, Nyquist, had only come in third place so I thought it would be good to just curl up in my bed for the rest of the night and finish re-reading one of my favorite books, “The Last Convertible.”

Around 11pm I got snacky so I went through my cupboards, refrigerator and freezer but Mother Hubbard’s cupboards were very bare. Sighing, I realized that I really had to get to a grocery store and stock up.

Then a bright idea lit up my head. My daughter, Tara, is a DJ/Karaoke hostess at a local bar on Saturday nights. Meijer’s grocery store is open 24/7 and it is only a couple of miles away from where Tara works so I could go out, karaoke a few songs, hang out with Tara for a few hours, then go to the store and load up on groceries. Sounded like a good plan to me!

My cat, Willow, was all stretched out asleep on my lap while I was reading and I carefully leaned over so I wouldn’t disturb her and grabbed my cell phone off my nightstand to send a text to Tara to see if she wouldn’t mind if I popped by for a few hours.

While I was waiting for her to text me back, with no warning at all, Willow suddenly urped up a warm, squishy hairball all over my book and on me. Yuck! She immediately jumped off my lap and ran away because she knows that when she has hairball problems, I will chase her around until I can catch her so I can swab on hairball eliminator gel on her front paws. She hates the taste of that stuff!

My top priority was to first clean off my book, of course, then clean myself up. I was in the process of chasing Willow when my cell phone rang with Tara’s return text telling me yes, come on up, she’d be glad to have me there!

So I sent her a text back that I would be there as soon as I finished cleaning myself up from Willow’s sudden urp and after I had chased her around to put that gel on her paws. I told Tara to give me 30 minutes.

So after freshening myself up, I drove to the Double J’s bar and I was surprised to discover it was dead in there; there were only 6 people celebrating somebody’s birthday.

On the rare occasions when it is that quiet, me and Tara get silly doing very strange karaoke songs. Several weeks ago when it was also dead, I did an old song from 1968 called “Fire” by the English psychedelic rock band, “The Crazy World of Arthur Brown.” Here’s a link to the song on YouTube so that you can see how demonically great this song is: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FaHEusBG20c

Now I look like a demure grandmotherly type and Double J’s is first and foremost a country-song lovin’ bar. I don’t do country songs, in fact there are very few country singers and songs that I like. I usually karaoke 1960’s and 1970’s stuff, nothing too bizarre but for some reason I had had that “Fire” song in my head all that day and I thought I could really pull it off.

And apparently I pulled it off a little too well! I really got into doing the witchy laughter and when I finished, there was dead silence and then some tentative applause. Helen, one of the regulars who sings just country songs, came up to me with a slightly frightened expression on her face, and said, “Um, that was, um, great. But that would be funny for you to do on Halloween!”

I started laughing when I realized what that must have looked like and sounded like. I look like a sweet grandmother and then I belted out, with gusto, this demonic song in a country bar!

Even Tara told me, with bemused laughter, that she had never heard of that song before but she was sure I had nailed it but, um, yeah, maybe I should not ever do that song again because I had scared the patrons. I giggled to myself.

A week later I visited her at another one of her karaoke hosting places when her boss, Randy Howell, was there. Randy has been a long-time DJ for an oldies radio station in Saginaw and since he is only a few years younger than me, we have great chats about all of the music from the 1960’s and 1970’s.

Tara told him how I had scared the patrons at Double J’s a week earlier by doing, and doing too well, the song, “Fire.” Randy dropped his mouth and he asked me in amazement, “You really did do “Fire?” Oh, you have to do it for me too!” Tara just shook her head and loaded the song up and I belted it out again for Randy.

He loved it, although the rest of the bar was looking at me strangely. Randy said that he had heard only one other person karaoke that song, probably because it was a one-hit wonder and there probably are not too many people who do remember it. But that person didn’t hold a candle to how well I had done it. And he especially loved my demonic, witchy laughter too.

So last Saturday night I kept teasing Tara to load up “Fire” for me and she laughingly said, “Hell, no! I can’t afford to have everybody leave at once!”

But Tara and I did do 2 songs together we had never done with each before. We did “For What It’s Worth” by the Buffalo Springfield and “San Francisco (Flowers in Your Hair)” by Scott McKenzie. Two great 1960’s songs about protests and the Summer of Love.

The rest of what little time was left until the bar closed up at 2 a.m. was spent by the 6 people celebrating somebody’s birthday who karaoked several country songs. Tara and I entertained ourselves by laughing over the series of texts sent to her by her boyfriend, Justin.

One of their cats had managed to get out a window and after wandering around on their roof, was finally coaxed back inside but then he went psycho and was attacking Justin and the other cats. Justin finally had to resort to putting Jasper in his carrier box until he calmed down and he kept likening the whole experience to him stalking this dangerous panther in the wild jungle and we were crying with laughter over his hilarious texts.

After the bar had closed and the celebrating patrons were themselves coaxed out the door, I waited until Tara had dismantled the equipment and put it up. Ashley, the bartender, paid Tara in cash and Tara shoved the money into her coat jacket pocket.

We went outside and Tara was explaining to me that she had been having some weird problems with the dashboard lights in her van. I watched as she started it up and yup, every indicator light came on but none of the dials like the R.P.M., engine temperature gauge, the gas gauge, etc. were working at all.

She said that the cable that contained many of the electrical wires  underneath the passenger side sliding door was frayed and maybe that was the problem. So she opened that door and tried to tuck that cable in better but the dashboard situation didn’t improve. I told her maybe it was a fuse, or fuses, but she said she would just drive straight home and have Justin take a look at it on Sunday.

So she took off ahead of me and I thought she had continued down Center Road towards her apartment when I turned off Center onto Pine Road to go to Meijer’s.

Just as I was about to pull into a handicapped parking spot, I saw out of the corner of my left eye someone frantically waving their arms at me. So I turned my car slowly towards that person who turned out to be Tara, in a panic!

She said she had discovered that her speedometer wasn’t working either after she had left before me and she was afraid that she might get pulled over for inadvertently speeding. The cops in Bay City are always out in full force when the bars close on Saturday nights and they will pull you over for the least little thing.

She asked me if I could drive ahead of her to her apartment and she would follow me in confidence that she wouldn’t be speeding. Then I could drive back to Meijer’s and do my grocery shopping.

So of course I agreed to do that and I’m just thankful that she doesn’t live too far from Meijer’s because it was close to 3 in the morning at this point. She gave me a big hug in appreciation and profusely thanked me for helping her out and then she climbed back into her van to follow me.

So I drove as carefully as possible down a road that changes names and speed limits frequently because that was the quickest way to get to her apartment. We arrived there without any problems and after she had parked their van, she gave me another big hug as she thanked me again and apologized for delaying my grocery shopping. I laughed and told her no problem, I was just glad I had been with her that night and was able to help her out.

So on my way back to Meijer’s, I stopped off at King’s Party Store to get two packs of cigarettes. As I was leaving the store my cell phone rang and it was Tara, in tears and hiccuping so bad I couldn’t understand her frantic words.

She finally managed to squeak out that she had lost her entire pay and she was pretty sure it had dropped out of her coat pocket when she had waved me down in the Meijer’s parking lot and could I please, pretty please drive there as fast as I could and try to find her money? They desperately needed it for their own groceries until Justin got his paycheck Thursday from Lowe’s where he works.

She was crying so hard as she kept saying she knows someone will have already grabbed her money even though there were rarely many people out shopping at that time of night. I told her oh my god, yes, I will do that and then I hung up and drove like mad back towards Meijer’s, with my heart pounding and speed limits be damned!

I careened through the parking lot towards where she had been parked, threw my car in park, jumped out of my car and peered all around. By bad or good luck, two of the tall parking lot lights were out right near where she had been parked and so it was difficult to see anything.

Then I began panicking also because I knew how badly they needed that money and I began to look all around to see if this was indeed where she had been parked and then I saw the money, all fanned out, on the pavement! In disbelief I picked it up and counted it and it was only $50. I thought I had heard Ashley count out $90 for Tara and so I frantically scoured the area looking for another two 20 dollar bills.

I was softly saying to myself as I looked, “Here 20, 20, come here! Hope they didn’t blow away! Here 20, 20!” There was a very slight breeze but I could not find any other money anywhere.

So I climbed back into my car and called Tara, “How much money did you have?” and she said, in between sniffles, “I had $50: two 20’s, a 5 dollar bill and 5 singles.” And I said, with great relief, “Oh thank goodness because that is exactly what I did find, but I thought you had $90 and so I looked all over the place for the remaining money!”

And as she began crying harder she said, “You mean you found it? All of it? It was still there? Oh my god, Mom, I love you, you saved my bacon twice tonight! I cannot believe it was still there!”

I leaned back in my car seat in relief and while I was trying to catch my own breath and slow my pounding heart down, I laughed as I told Tara, “I’m just as surprised as you were to find it right where you had climbed out of your van because there were many empty shopping carts all around and if one of the cart collectors had come out before I got back here, they would have definitely seen it and most likely would have pocketed it!” Then me and Tara both began crying and laughing harder together in relief that her money was safe and sound in my hand.

I also told her a weird thing that I had noticed as I was driving like mad through the Meijer’s parking lot was that there were a whole bunch of employees outside in little groups up against the building just chatting and/or smoking. And so we were also lucky that none of them had wandered through the parking lot and found her money before I had got there.

I told Tara that I could drive immediately back to give her the money but she laughingly told me, no, go ahead and get your grocery shopping done and just drop it off on your way back home, that she would still be up for awhile because her panic and adrenaline had to calm down before she could even try to go to sleep.

I laughingly told her okay but that it would be awhile because I also had to calm down my pounding heart and my own panic and adrenaline before I went into the store. So we sat there and chatted again about how lucky I had been able to lead her van home and then race back to find her money and we were finally able to get ourselves calmed down a bit.

We eventually hung up so I could start my shopping. I really hate shopping that late at night at Meijer’s because the stock people have carts of products all over the place while they re-stock the shelves and I then have to play dodge ’em down each aisle with one of the store’s Amigo scooters. But I found out that it was even worse to shop there at that time on a very early Sunday.

My list wasn’t too long but I patiently dodged around all of the stocking carts that were strewn down each aisle and on the ends of the aisles too. There were many of the things on my list that were on sale according to the tags on the shelves and I was happy to discover that because Mother Hubbard’s wallet was almost as bare as my cupboards.

Another thing I hate about shopping that late at Meijer’s is that you are forced to use the self-check-out lanes. It is really difficult to far lean over to push buttons, put in cards and other info, then bag everything up while sitting in an Amigo scooter.

At the register, I began to scan my items and I was dismayed to see that the sales prices on most of my groceries were not coming up on the computer screen. I had kept a running tally of the total costs in my head and I knew I had not screwed up that simple math that bad. So I stopped scanning and pushed the Help button to find out why I was being over-charged.

After a few minutes a male register clerk came up and asked me what was the problem. I explained that the computer was not charging me for the sales prices that were on the shelves for many of my items.

He grabbed the Meijer’s ad and was comparing what the computer screen was showing with what the sales prices should have been. Then he said, “Ah hah! Now I know what the problem is! The sales prices don’t officially begin until 6 a.m. Sunday and the computers won’t scan the correct prices until that time, even though the stockers were already changing the tags on the shelves.”

It was now 4 a.m. and I was not about to go home without groceries and I was not about to come back in two hours, especially after the crazy night I had already been through. So I asked him, “Well, what were we going to do? According to Michigan law, the prices on the shelves are the prices you are supposed to charge me!”

He said, “Hmmm, yes, you are right about the law but I don’t have the authority to change the prices in the computer, only my supervisor can do that.” So he got his store cell phone out and called his supervisor who couldn’t come at that time since he had driven down to Taco Bell for his lunch break.

The clerk explained that I had arrived right in the middle of everybody taking lunch breaks and so that was the explanation for the groups of employees lounging outside when I had arrived to find Tara’s money. And that in fact he would be taking his own lunch break in a few minutes as well.

So he asked me to go back through the store and write down the prices that were now on the shelves for everything in my Amigo scooter basket. Then when I came back up to the register to check out, there would be another register clerk on duty and he would explain the situation to her. He patted me on the shoulder and told me not to worry, that I would be able to check out with those sales prices.

I dubiously agreed to do that, and with huge sighs and yawns, I drove back through the store and dutifully wrote all of the prices down on my grocery list. I went back up to the self-check-out registers and immediately pushed the Help button before I tried to scan even one of my grocery items.

The clerk, this time a female, came over and smiled at me as she told me she was already aware of my situation and that their supervisor had given her the authority to change the computer so that I could check out with the sales prices even though it was not yet 6 a.m.

So she helped me scan everything correctly and she also helped me bag everything up. I gratefully thanked her for all of her help and for the help of that other register clerk and her supervisor because I was so tired and I just wanted to go home.

She laughed and said that this always happens at this time on early Sundays when their few customers come in are technically in between the prior week’s sales prices and the current week’s discounts. And that everyone in the store wants their customers to have a great experience shopping at Meijer’s so they do this even though the corporate office may frown on them manually changing the computer prices.

I explained that I rarely shop at this time of the night and I have never before shopped when the weekly ads change over but that I really did appreciate their help, especially after the weird night I had had.

So I loaded up my trunk with my groceries, and drove back to Tara’s apartment to give her back her money. She was waiting for me on her porch, chain-smoking, and she clutched her pay in tearful and grateful relief. We hugged and laughed and cried some more and then I drove home. I got my own Amigo scooter out and piled it up with all of my groceries. I was yawning so bad at this point, I could barely keep my eyes open.

But after I made it up to my apartment and put everything away, including my scooter, and sank down in exhaustion on my couch, I saw it was now going on 5 in the morning. I’m a night-owl but I’m not that bad of a night-owl!

But then I started laughing as I thought over that whole strange evening: from Willow’s urping on me, the fun time Tara and I had had karaoking together, to me having to lead her van home and then frantically driving like a crazed woman back to Meijer’s to successfully find Tara’s money, and then the sales prices fiasco when I was finally able to get my shopping done! What a wild and crazy night it had been!

But because this whole weird evening had begun when I got a late-night snack attack, I think the next time that happens, I’m just going to pull the bed covers over my head and go to sleep 🙂

So Tara and I did our own version of “Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure” and everything ended up okay as well! Thank goodness, whew!












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