It promised to be a hot summer that year. Late June and already stifling hot, I was eight-and-a-half months pregnant for my firstborn; a son, although I didn’t know that yet. I was a contract worker and would not be getting any time off except for six months maternity employment insurance. As I wanted every second of those six months to be with my new baby, I intended to work right up until I gave birth, if I could manage it.
I was putting in long hours at work every day, and each evening before leaving work, I would add to a growing ‘to do’ list I had been working on should I go into labour and not come back to work for six months. I wanted to be as prepared as I could be: nothing was going to tear me away from my baby any earlier than necessary. I had no intention of having to come in and explain anything to anyone during my maternity leave. I left my colleagues everything they required to keep going while I was gone. I made sure to cross every ‘t’ and dot every ‘i’.
On this particular evening, I left work at 6:00 p.m. and I was starving. I decided to pick up a burger at a drive-through so I could eat as soon as I got home. My little car had seen better days and little bits of it had started to malfunction. Notably, the gas gauge was broken and always read ‘empty’ no matter how much gas was in the tank: I had taken to restarting the little mileage metre every time I filled up so I could estimate – with a fair amount of accuracy – how much gas I had left. I guess I must have been just a little preoccupied with the pending arrival of my baby because on this particular evening, just as I was paying the waitress at the drive through, my car stalled. I glanced in horror – first at the mileage metre and then at the cars lined up behind me – as I immediately understood I was out of gas.
At the window of a drive through…
Red-faced, I explained my predicament to the bewildered waitress and then struggled to remove my considerable bulk from the car. Flustered, I gave the drivers behind me an apologetic look as I started to waddle across the parking lot to a gas station next door where – I hoped – they would be able to give me enough gas so I could get my car out of the way and then return to fill up properly.
I had laboriously toddled perhaps ten steps from the car when I stopped in dismay, realising that in my flustered state, I had just locked the car doors – with my purse and my car keys inside the car… By now crimson with mortification, I continued the long, hot trek across the parking lot and eventually ambled heavily into the gas station where I asked if they might have a ‘coat hanger and a little tank for some gas’.
Even in a big, impersonal city, folks are much nicer to you when you are almost nine months pregnant.
The mechanics gave me a long, odd look but otherwise, they didn’t say too much. They just moved seamlessly into action. In no time flat, they had raced over to the drive -through, unlocked my car, put the car in neutral; pushed it over to the gas station; returned my purse to its rightful owner, and proceeded to fill the gas tank to the brim.
One of the mechanics, clearly fearing for my safety as well as the safety of my pending offspring, stayed with me right until the end. He even stood, waving me off from the gas pump (I could see him clearly in the rear-view mirror) as he shouted, “Good luck to you, Mam!” with a doubtful look on his face that stated clearly my poor child didn’t stand a chance with a mother like me at the helm.
I have never forgotten their kindness, or their implied worry for my poor offspring.
And to this day, nearly thirty years later, I still reset the mileage metre to zero every time I fill up.
Just in case…
Patti Moore Wilson © wednesdayschildca.wordpress.com