I don’t have to meet a lot of requirements before I start writing. I would hate to feel powerless in the face of wanting to work. To me, inspiration isn’t the magic lightning bolt from the Gods that makes me power up Microsoft Word and a coffee machine. Inspiration is just having ideas and fleshing them out, every day. I don’t have any philosophies about writing. When I want to make fun of Spider-Man, I make fun of Spider-Man. When I have more than two things that correlate, I put together a list. And when I lock my keys in my car, well, I did it yesterday.
I had chosen, unsurprisingly, to go to the Asheville Barnes & Noble to write. I like being surrounded by people and books and Criterion Collection BluRays, so I choose to go here over Mama’s Java Bean or wherever. I’m aware that Barnes & Noble is a corporate monster that takes away business from all those poor used book stores and culturally aware espresso shops, but until the dead bodies of the construction workers and coffee bean farmers come tumbling out of the walls all over the YA Fiction section, I’ll stick with them.
As I turned my car off in the parking lot, I left my keys in the ignition. I’m sure I had a great, subconscious reason for this, like turning it back on again to make sure it still ran or something aesthetic, but I left them there, grabbed my computer bag and opened the door. I haven’t been so aware of a mistake that I was making since I was six, saw my horse eating leaves, and decided to order the same.
I stepped out of my jeep, with the actual knowledge that I didn’t have my keys in my pockets. I knew it. But my body, as you’d know if you’ve seen me walk, run or dance, is an entity entirely separated from my brain. It operates on two different wavelengths. The brain part controls the Don’t Be Stupid section of me, and the rest is the LET’S ACCIDENTALLY KNOCK OVER THIS SHELF section.
As I’m closing the door, the realization hits both my brain and my body that my keys aren’t where they should be. But still, I find myself shutting it, as if I’m relying on myself to teach me a lesson about responsibility. It’s a slow motion kind of moment, where I think to myself Ooooooohhhhhh nnoooooooo. My keeeeeeeyyyyyyyyyssssssss arrrreeeeeee innnnnn thhhhhhheeeeeee……sshhhhiiiiiiitttttttt.
Slam. Door is shut. Haha, take that, me, you idiot. That’ll teach you to try and live.
My initial reaction was “Well, I guess I can die here.” Generations of Nook advertisements would pass by as I stood staunchly beside my jeep, turned into a skeleton representing willpower and dumb. My second reaction was to call AAA. I’ve wouldn’t say that I’ve had problems transitioning into being an adult (the Digimon and The Lost World DVD’s in my car are a testament to that), but calling AAA is the most “grown-up” I’ve ever felt in my entire twenty-four years of life. It’s quite fitting that my entrance into true manhood was marked by my inability to perform simple tasks.
AAA was so nice to me. I don’t understand how anyone could do the job of listening to the various ways that people have fucked up driving without snickering at least once, but I explained, in depth, that I have sub-human intelligence and had to watch as my hands revolted against me. The lady on the line just told me that there would be someone to help in seventy-five minutes.
I went inside Barnes & Noble to write and fifteen minutes had barely passed before I got a call that said that AAA was outside, waiting for me. But you said it was going to be seventy-five minutes! Oh, AAA, you betrayed me in the best way.
I decided to leave my computer and bag at the table and I turned to the woman behind me and asked her “Hey, I’ve got to go outside and check on my car. I called AAA earlier and they just arrived. Can you watch my bag?” Her response?
“Oh, sure! BUT DOES IT DO ANY TRICKS?”
Why would you do something like that? I’m not so entitled that I’m a prude about witty banter, but the mix of “go outside,” “car,” “AAA,” and “just arrived” have to set off a signal in anyone’s mind that the guy saying them means he has business to attend to. How badly did she need to make that joke? What gut busting response was she expecting? Was she being friendly? I literally watched myself kick myself out of my own damn car earlier, so human nature is obviously a mystery to me.
Hell, at first, I didn’t even know what she was referring to. What does tricks? I asked myself. That doesn’t make any sense, oh, she means my computer, like a dog would do tricks…ummm. My response was that you could ask it to roll over, but it would be pretty useless after that. That’s a pretty suitable reply in my opinion. The lady just looked at me like I’d said “I don’t know, but I AM Hitler.” Sorry about your open mic night, lady.
I rushed outside where the AAA guy had me sign a few things and then jarred the door open enough to stick a pump in there. He inflated it a bit, stuck a metal rod in through the crack, and unlocked the door. It was beautifully efficient. I imagined something way more complex, with the guy saying “Jeep Cherokee? Hmmmm. We’ll need the jaws of life and a time machine.” But the only thing he told me the entire time was “You got a safe car.” Dude, you just broke into it with a balloon and a tent pole. Gentle breezes could unhinge my door frame if they blew in the right direction.
Regardless of our differences regarding how easily robbed my jeep is, AAA guy, you’re not bad. The company followed up with me later that day to make sure I got help and wasn’t being mugged or trapped under the wheel or something, and I thanked them twice, something I usually only do after I’ve been handed brownies or a puppy. I would recommend their service. For someone who’s only knowledge of cars is miming holding a steering wheel in a game of charades, they’re pretty valuable.
I walked back inside Barnes & Noble to finally start writing and as I sat down, the lady said, disappointed “It didn’t do any tricks.” I ignored her.
Daniel bows for no one.