This story needs some background. Sam and I have one car--a 1993 Toyota Camry. It's old, but we got it about 10 months ago, and it didn't have very many miles on it, so we thought it would be reliable. We got a manual transmission to reduce the likelihood of the transmission going out, to get better gas mileage, etc. When we bought the car, we were informed the clutch was new. Yet last week the car began having a lot of trouble accelerating. Upon further investigation, we discovered the clutch was going out...already! A clutch is supposed to last around 100,000 miles, and we had only gone 10,000. We don't even "ride the clutch!" So almost $1,000 later, our car is working again.
Anyway...while our car was in the shop, we essentially ran out of food. A trip to the grocery trip was definitely in order, but that was somewhat difficult without a car. Finally, desperation gave way to the abandoment of logic, and I loaded Talmage into the stroller on a cold, wet day.
I figured that the grocery store wasn't that far away, and that I could use the exercise anyway. So we set off. When we first went outside, the air was filled with mist, but it wasn't really raining, so I decided we could brave the weather. Well, shortly into our expedition, the rain really picked up. We were walking through mud and puddles of rain water, and I had to take one of the blankets off of Talmage and drape it over the stroller in order to keep the rain out of his face. The blanket was bright green, so it was very visible. Talmage decided that was not fun at all and started fussing, which progressed into crying, which progressed into screaming. As we journeyed on, I realized the grocery store was a lot further away than I initially thought.
I turned down a road where the speed limit was 50 mph and there were no sidewalks. Smart, huh? But the shoulder was wide enough that I figured it wouldn't be much of a problem. So we continued on. Suddenly an old truck pulled into a driveway ahead of me. The window went down, and I saw a somewhat unnerving couple. The woman asked me if I needed a ride. I quickly refused, assuring her I was fine. I kept walking down the road (or highway!), and they watched me for a while before getting back on the road and driving off.
I got to the main road on which the grocery store is located and pressed the pedestrian button to cross. While I was waiting, another truck pulled into the driveway of the gas station next to me. Once again, the window went down. This time a man was sitting behind the wheel, and as I glanced up I heard, "Ma'am, do you need a ride?" I once again refused, and as he questioned me as to whether or not I was certain I didn't need a ride, the semi-truck behind him honked angrily, as the truck bed was blocking one of the lanes of the road. Nice. By this point, many pairs of curious eyes were watching the woman bundled up in her coat with her hood on, pants soaked almost up to the knees, pushing a stroller covered in a bright green, sopping wet blanket. I hurriedly crossed the road and started walking briskly through the parking lot.
As I approached the grocery store, yet another car-a white cadillac-pulled up, the window went down, and a large man stared at me, stared at the stroller, and then stared at me with a look on his face that said, "What kind of a mother are you, bringing your baby out in this weather?" He said slowly, incredulously, something like, "It's...wet!" I simply nodded and explained, "It's fine," and went on my way. (For the record, Talmage stayed warm and dry throughout the entire trip.)
I then made a spectacle as I wandered into the grocery store, and realized they didn't have any grocery baskets you could carry, and there wasn't a reasonable way I could push a cart and a stroller at the same time. Thankfully, Talmage had stopped crying, and I decided I would simply load the groceries into the stroller. I'm sure I looked like a little thief as I placed bread, milk, and other essentials into the lower basket. I ran out of room there, so I began piling things on top of the stroller. They teetered back and forth as I made my way to the checkout register, and the clerk watched curiously as I unloaded my items. As if I didn't already feel enough like a spectacle, after she filled the bags, I began loading them back into the stroller. I got a few too many groceries, however, and ended up having to tie bulging bags to the stroller handle. Dreading the rainy walk home, I ventured out into the parking lot.
I was about halfway through the parking lot when another truck pulled up and the window rolled down to reveal a man who sent shudders through my spine. "Ma'am, do you need a ride to your house?" he inquired. I think I was shaking my head no before he even started his sentence! I bolted away, crossed the road, and set off once again down the 50 mph road, speed-walking down the rocky shoulder, trucks and trailers splashing up large amounts of water as they passed. A car on the opposite side of the road honked about 10 times as it passed. I looked up, and it was a white cadillac! Coincidence? Perhaps. But I think it was the same man I encountered on my way into the store. How embarrassing.
I was relieved when after about a mile on that road I could turn the corner and walk on a sidewalk again. I was passing a school when a woman turned into the parking lot, rolled down her window, and uttered those now familiar words: "Honey, do you need a ride somewhere?" When I said no, she said, "I was just as scared of you as you are of me. I just didn't want the baby getting wet." I nearly laughed out loud when she said that! Scared of me??? As I continued on my way, I realized why. With the bulging grocery bags tied to the stroller, the basket full of bags, and my completely wet pants and the wet blanket, I really looked like a bag lady! After that realization hit, I actually did start laughing out loud, which made me look even crazier.
When we were almost home I saw something in the sidewalk. I realized it was Talmage's shoe, which he had apparently kicked off early on our walk without me noticing. Wondering if the trip could get any more random, I finally arrived back at our apartment. I realized there was no way I could carry the stroller up the stairs with Talmage and the groceries in it, so I took Talmage out and took him up to our apartment, then returned to bring up the stroller with the groceries, which must have weighed something like 50 pounds. The only way I can carry the stroller up the stairs is by holding the handle and the bar between the front wheels, so it puts me in a somewhat awkward position anyway. But the fact that it weighed so much more than usual made it quite a task to get it up the stairs to our apartment.
Finally, I clunked it down at the top of the stairs and I heard a faint, "Lock the door!" I realized someone must be leaving their apartment and assumed they were below me. But as I started to push the stroller, I saw movement out of the corner of my eye. I turned, and there was a man walking right next to me! I was so startled I nearly jumped out of my skin. It didn't help that it was one of the guys Sam told me I should stay away from because he had seen him when he appeared drunk or high or something. He said hi, and I nervously reciprocated as I opened my apartment door, pushed the stroller inside, and went to crash down on the bed where I had laid Talmage. What an experience!!!