It started innocently enough; Ellie and I planned to meet Jane at the Machine Shed restaurant. As I pulled up to the door, Jane was walking up the parking lane. She and Ellie hugged and went in. Looking for a parking space, I noticed there was an unusually large number of cars, so I had to go farther from the door than typical. I backed into the place, exited the car and walked to the restaurant.
Hungry and in a hurry, I walked briskly to the hostess’s desk; she was looking for me and said, “Come with me,” when I assented I was with two women.
We walked through a smaller dining area, our customary location, and into the larger dining area behind it. The larger area was very crowded and noisy, not the environment we would have chosen. “Hmmm … ,” my hostess said, “they’re not here.” We walked back to the smaller area.
I saw Ellie standing next to a booth, said, “There they are,” to my guide, and walked over to Ellie.
Looking a little distressed, she said, “Jane’s lost her purse.”
Before I could respond Jane came hustling in from the larger dining area. “It’s not in there, where she was going to seat us,” Jane said, breathlessly.
“It wasn’t?” Ellie replied.
“No. I must’ve left it in the car,” she said as she began moving quickly, somewhere between a fast walk and a slow run, down the hall.
“Wow, when she’s in a hurry, she can really move,” I thought.
“Go with her.”
I followed. I am a fast walker, but she stayed well ahead. “She keeps her keys in her purse; how’s she going to react when she realizes she’s locked out of her car?” I wondered. “Jane,” I called; she kept moving. I passed our car and she was at hers. She peered in the front passenger window. “I am amazed she’s not panicking at being locked out.” She opened the door, “Oh, she’s got her keys … the purse must be in there … thank goodness,” irrationally poured through me.
This gratitude ground to a halt, “It’s not in there.” I looked in the driver’s side windows, both front and back, as if Jane could possibly miss seeing her purse. We trudged back to the restaurant. “I must have left it in church,” she said.
Not knowing we had just done this, a waitress offered to walk her to her car.
We returned to the booth, Ellie was waiting for us. Jane went underneath the table – this is a long booth, easily able to accommodate three people on a side. “It’s got all my credit cards in it … my checkbook. Ohhhh ohhh.” She has had at least one encounter with credit card fraud, so knows that nightmare.
Another waitress, wanting to be helpful, got down on all fours and, without any luck, poked into the inky blackness under our booth.
We decided to go to the church Jane had just attended. Once again Jane was scurrying down the hall toward the exit; Ellie took a quick look under the bench and followed. I hadn’t looked, and thought I should, too. On a whim, I got out my penlight and pointed it at the inkiness.
I couldn’t believe my eyes; my penlight spotlighted her purse, upside down, under the bench as close to the far end of the bench as was possible to be. Banging my head as I rose, I called to Ellie, who, fittingly, was well behind Jane on the way out. She didn’t hear. I quickly walked a bit further, “Ellie,” more loudly, “Ellie.” She turned; I gesticulated madly; I walked to the booth.
A young waitress came, “Would you like me to retrieve the purse?”
“I would like that very much. Thanks.”
When she emerged, Ellie and Jane had returned to the table and everyone was breathing again.
I thanked the young waitress, Ellie and Jane did, too, and we sat down to the nice dinner we had come to have.
__________________________________________________PS: The following day we realized how special it was that the various staff people took such an interest in Jane’s lost purse; we sent them a thank you note for creating a caring environment.
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