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Keyless and clueless upon returning home

Last week, I wrote about a treasured vacation in Southern California. My fun-filled trip didn’t end quite as smoothly as it started.

If you are consistently plagued by Forgetting & Losing Syndrome (FLS), you’ll feel better at the end of this tale.

Coming home, I flew from Los Angeles to Chicago, where I connected for the evening flight to Buffalo. I wasn’t totally surprised when a Warren businessman friend arrived at my gate before departure. We chatted a bit – nice to see him.

As I boarded, the gate agent pulled my boarding pass and replaced it with a first-class ticket! I was delighted, if only for the leg room. I’d spent the afternoon jammed into coach with 143 other two-legged sardines.

After takeoff for the one-hour flight to Buffalo, the flight attendant offered cocktails. I wanted to enjoy the relaxing indulgence, but a rare bit of common sense spoke up: “Sorry, I’d love to, but I have a long drive.” Rats. Then I thought, “Hmm. Better get out my car keys.”

My habit, when flying in and out of Buffalo, is to park in the private lot across the street. Their shuttle bus delivers to and from the airport. When the bus picks me up in the lot, the last thing I always do, after locking my car, is drop my keys to the bottom of my purse, knowing I won’t need them for a week. Always. I ALWAYS do this.

Three searches through my purse on the return flight produced… no keys. W-H-A-T? This is not possible! Panicky, I began to wish I’d had that drink. OMG.

Trying to stay calm I thought, “They must be in my carry-on tote bag,” although I couldn’t imagine why. I ALWAYS put them in my purse.

Upon arrival, a quick search through my tote in the ladies’ room revealed … no keys. Then a more thorough search, followed by a third hysterical search. Nuthin’.

I alerted my Warren friend, whose vehicle was parked close by for a quick getaway. I ruined that. He patiently waited for me to claim my luggage, then drove me to my parking lot. They let us in for a search. Car was locked. No keys on the surrounding pavement. So – thank you, God – my newly-designated Guardian Angel drove me to Warren, arriving around 1:30a.m. Talk about saving a damsel in distress!

Dear Richard was asleep. I waited until morning to tell him that his day had been pre-planned with a trip to Buffalo for my car. Like all people with acute FLS, he understood. I was feeling guilty for ruining his day. And stupid… which has become all too common in the last few years.

First thing in the morning, Dear Richard got me coffee. I got reacquainted with the cat and read the newspaper. Then, ritualistically (I ALWAYS DO THIS), I unpacked my computer. I pulled the computer case out of my tote bag. As I unzipped the case, there they were. The car keys. Inside the computer bag (I NEVER DO THAT). And still Richard forgave me. I just wish I could forgive myself.

Late morning, we set off for Buffalo. We got to Falconer, and his dashboard lit up with a Check Engine light. You gotta be kiddin’ me.

A few phone calls to the dealer and a local check on the car’s computer revealed “reduced throttle power to the turbo.” Translated into English, that meant we could drive to Buffalo without damaging the engine, but it might be a slow slog going and slower yet coming back. We opted to return to Warren and get the car to the dealer. They checked it.

The next morning, we set off for Buffalo again. The Check Engine light came on before we got to Falconer. Another phone call, some hand-holding from the dealer’s Service Department, and we decided to risk going to Buffalo.

Finally, back to the parking lot, Richard waited while the shuttle drove me to my car. I didn’t want him to leave before I knew I was all set.

I required a Starbuck’s iced coffee to hit the road.

Before last week, I thought that Forgetting & Losing Syndrome was pretty harmless – just time consuming. But beware: it’s also expensive.

One tank of gas for Richard, round-trip Thruway tolls, and two extra days at parking lot added up to $82.37. That’s before a Starbuck’s java and a thank you gift to my Guardian Angel.

FLS is not covered by Medicare and there’s no known cure. However, victims can sometimes be aided by Guardian Angels and understanding spouses.

I am ALWAYS grateful. I need to be.

Marcy O’Brien can be reached at Moby.32@hotmail.com.

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