We were all exhausted. And they were full of questions, none of which I could hear, of course, as we drove back across the bridge with a hole where our window used to be and the 70-mile-an-hour wind rushing through our hair.
But we talked about it over dinner, and again before bedtime, and Chago, it seemed, was able to kind of find a pocket for it, you know? Grasped that it was a random, maybe even one-time occurrence, and that it was all going to be okay, and that it could've been much worse, and that we were very lucky, and then he just kind of put it away.
Saia, on the other hand, was an emotional wreck. And that part of me that she gets that from obviously could not blame her. And I tried, I did, to hide my own fear. To comfort her and calm her and not let her see that I was scared shitless that the initial charges to my credit card occurred in the city where we were vandalized, but the latest series of charges took place right around the corner from our home and, of course, they had our address. And I tried, I did, to reassure her that the world is not a bad place, that there are good people everywhere, that sometimes even good people do bad things, and that we can't judge someone solely on their behavior without knowing their circumstances or all the possible conditions and reasons leading up to it. But I knew I'd left all the outside lights on, and had double- and triple-checked all the doors and windows already. And I tried, I did, to explain to her that it was okay to be hurt, but that we should try not to be angry because then they would get a lot more than just our money, and we couldn't let them, not anyone, take our spirits. And I tucked a butcher knife under my own mattress that night.
And we read our stories, and we sang our songs, and we kissed our goodnights and said our i-love-yous. But both kids were still pretty restless all night. And I'd made at least 6 trips downstairs before Saia just couldn't fall back to sleep anymore after waking up screaming from a nightmare about me running out of money and she not being able to find me. After bringing her into bed with me, we fell asleep shortly after 3am.
And the sun rose the next day.
And so did we.
And for that, I am forever grateful.
As it turns out, I forgot, but of course Saia did not, that it was pet week and we had not yet taken our pets in for show and tell, and today was the last day of the week. So, broken window and all, we all loaded up in the truck and made our way back across the bridge and arrived at school completely windblown and about a half hour late.
But the kids were wonderful and did an amazing job with the dogs. Walking them around the room on their leashes and cautioning the children to keep their distance from the chihuahua when her ears are back. They told stories about how we got the dogs, and how Ryce got into a fight with a raccoon, and how Reyna had her tooth pulled because she had rotten sulfur breath. They showed the class how Ryce can sit and lay down and shake, with both paws. They were so confident and so strong and so self-assured. And it made my trip all the way back across the bridge just to drop the dogs off back home afterwards, so worth it.
And then it was off to LandRover to try to get the window repaired before the weekend. And even as I drove down the interstate with the wind gushing around me, I knew the impossibility of the task. Understood the unwritten rule of dealership service centers. There was no such thing as 'can you get it done today?'
And then I spoke with the service manager, who gave me all of the disclaimers that I expected, and all of the fees, and all of the parts and labor numbers, and all of the 'we'll see what we can do's that I could possibly stand. They, of course, didn't have my window in stock and would have to send someone to such-and-such a city about 2 hours away to pick it up. And the regulator that moves the window up and down would probably have to be ordered, which meant we would likely not be able to have our truck back before Monday, and, by the way, we would have to pay for the rental car ourself because they couldn't provide us with a loaner since, technically, the vehicle was still drivable and we didn't have a preexisting maintenance appointment.
And I was just...so...empty. I think I'd passed angry like 18 hours ago. And I was just really really really...tired of feeling screwed over...again...and again.
So, while they conducted the diagnostics, I contacted my insurance company and blahblahblah, big shocker, same shit, different day. They couldn't do anything for me either.
And then Mike, the service manager, returned with a smile on his face and keys in his hand. "We've sent someone to get your window. I'll go pick up the regulator myself. We're gonna do everything we can to get it done today, even though it's the end of the month, and a Friday, and my techs are swamped. And I can't make you any guarantees, of course, but here's a loaner. I'll call you around 5 to let you know where we are."
Back across the bridge to pick up the kids, a few more phone calls to finalize account closure details, deposit checks into new accounts, and confirm all credit cards had been canceled, and I we got the call around 4:30 that, lo and behold, our truck was actually done!!! And as I couldn't figure out a way to keep the loaner [which, by the way, I TOTALLY LOVEDLOVEDLOVED!!] without incurring, you know, criminal charges, we reluctantly returned the very very nice little ride around 5pm.
And then, folks, the proverbial shit hit the fan.
Turns out banks should really not give you those little temporary blank checks because, well, no one will take them. Telecheck, apparently, will not accept anything that is not imprinted, which is something the damn bank should have done when they gave them to me. But I couldn't use my temporary debit card either because the account that I was having all our money moved into wouldn't clear the check I'd deposited earlier today until tomorrow. And the dealership would not accept partial payment either.
"It's policy, ma'm," they kept saying over and over.
"I hear what you're saying," I said, "but can't you see that that doesn't mean a thing to me in this moment?"
"We simply can't release your vehicle without full payment. It's just..."
"I know, I get it, it's policy," I said.
And there we were. A stand-off. On a Friday afternoon at 5:15pm with exhausted children and a mama who's had maybe an hour's sleep in two days. No money on hand. No way to get to our money. No way to get to our vehicle. And now, no way to get home.
"Just tell me what you expect me to do," I said. Not upset, not angry. Just really looking for a solution. Any solution, no matter how fantastical, and I would've taken it. I would have.
"I don't really know, ma'm," he said. "I guess you can take my car."
"WHAT?!?!" I said. Well, not THAT fantastical! Of course, that's not a viable option. Are you crazy? There has to be another way. How can you not have any loaners? How can you not help me out here? This is insane. Can't you see how insane this is? Isn't there ANYTHING else? Anything at all?
And then he suggested that he drive us to the bank that was up the street to see if maybe they could imprint the checks like they were supposed to have done. But knowing that the money to which those checks were associated would still not be accessible until tomorrow, I didn't think that would really work either. Without another plan on the table, however, that sounded like the only possible move. So, off we went, with me driving, and this total stranger in my passenger seat next to my newly fitted window, and the kids asking where we were going to now, Mama?
And my head was swirling, processing, processing. There had to be another way. What was I missing? What angle hadn't I covered? Where was the way out? There's always a way out. Why can't I see it? Why can't I fucking see it?
When halfway there he says, "You know what, just go ahead and turn around."
"Just turn around right up here and let's go on back to the dealership."
"Let's just get you your vehicle and get you out of here," he said. "I know you. We've serviced your vehicle here before. And you've been through enough this week already."
"Go home. And try to enjoy the weekend. And we'll take care of this on Monday."
And as I pulled up to the service door to let him out, I muttered something about thank yous and how much we really appreciated the help and how I just didn't have any more words, and as I drove off I just started to cry.
"Mama, what's wrong?" asked Chago.
"Why are you crying, Mama?" asked Saia.
"It's okay, babies," I said. "Mama's okay. These are happy tears."
"Because someone helped us who didn't have to. Someone took a chance on us being good people just because he's a good person. And everything's going to be okay now."