Saturday, June 19, 2010

A defining moment (and not in a good way)

A few days ago, Linda from Bar Mitzvahzilla bestowed upon my The Oh My Blog Award. Thank you, Linda, for thinking of me, and apparently knowing that I have a endless supply of embarrassing stories.

The story that I am about to write about is one that I think clearly demonstrates what happens to your brain when you have children. While the effects may not be as detrimental as when you do, say, crack, they are still pretty much in the WTF reaction arena.

Just a little prior important information that every reader should know before I undertake telling this woeful tale. I used to be pretty darn smart. The kind of person who would devour a good book in a 24 hour period, was in the Honor Society, completed a four year degree in 3 years, working part time and doing all kinds of internships and volunteer work. I was so smart, I beat out a large amount of people vying for a full scholarship for my Master's Degree. I was smart.

Then I had kids.

The morning of this particular day started pretty typically. It was August of 2004. Matthew was just shy of turning four and Andrew was one. To say that my hands were full was an understatement at the time.

We were also in the midst of what seemed a thousand different things. My husband had just started the job he is currently in. I had just accepted a teaching position at the school where I teach now. Matthew was going to start preschool in the fall...So much was on my mind.

My husband and I had come back from a weekend trip to the beach alone a couple of weeks prior. I guess the combination of sleep, no pants dancing and refreshing libations proved to be a bad one, as my husband had a car accident the day we got back and totally wrecked his car. Thankfully, John and our dog were not hurt. Good times.

As it turns out, we had to replace the car. Which was a nightmare, because all we really wanted was to get the old one, the PAID for one, fixed and back on the road. The insurance company politely ignored us and wrote us a check for the value of the now dead, paid for, car.

The search for a new car was on and John had decided on his choice, and finagled the price that we were comfortable with. I had gone to the school credit union and arranged for the loan. We were now waiting for the dealership to find us the car that John wanted. We were a couple of days away from all of this mess to be behind us, except for the car payments.

As is a summer tradition, I often take the boys to have lunch with Daddy a few times over the course of my time off. The boys seemed to enjoy getting to see where Daddy works and John would get a welcome break from all that engineering stuff.

And so, on that day, we went to have lunch with Daddy. John's office is located at a service plaza on our state's largest toll road. We dropped Daddy back off at work in the Operations building, and I decided to stop for gas before going home.

I pulled up to the pump, swiped my credit card, and put the nozzle with no difficulty into my Nissan Quest. I started to plan what I would do when I got home. I was moving all my teaching stuff out of my garage and into my new school the next morning.

As the pump did its job, I thought of packing up the car when I got home, to shave some time off the crazy, morning rush.

And then, I remembered.

I remembered I had not picked the cheap gas. And to my horror, I saw the word DIESEL in huge, bright orange letters across where regular unleaded, mid grade unleaded and super unleaded should have been.

Frantically, I looked at where the amount of money is displayed. It was just a couple of dollars. I quickly pulled the nozzle out of the car, with shaking hands and an overwhelming desire to just lay down and sob.

In my desperate mind, I thought, "It's just a little bit. I bet it won't make a difference."

And I started my car.

I saw all of you wince out there.

I tried to call my husband. He didn't pick up.

I put the car in drive, and pulled out of the gas bay and onto the toll road, thinking I was headed home.

I was going in the opposite direction.

In the meantime, I kept calling John, who finally picked up.

"I did a bad thing," I said, sobbing.

"But you just left," he said.

And then I explained.

"DON'T START THE CAR!" he yelled into the phone.

"It's too late...I am on the road," I cried.

And then, in telling him the next exit, he realized I was going in the wrong direction.

At that precise moment, as I spoke with him, my car started doing things that are typical of when you put diesel in a regular unleaded fuel car. It sputtered, it stalled. And I was on that fast highway with my two precious boys in the car.

I was able to get off the highway and my car finally died in the middle of a left turn into a business park. Luckily, a young man pushed it into the parking lot, out of the busy road.

I was a mess. And my boys were scared.

My poor husband rushed out of his office and began to search for me. Because I had no idea where I was, and I had to explain to my babies that we were all right.

John finally got there and called a tow truck and a local Nissan dealership to make sure that they could handle the job. I am sure that the guys at the shop all had a good laugh over the nitwit who put diesel in the car and ran it 'cause it was only a little bit.

The worst part was the look on the tow truck driver's face as he hauled my van onto the flatbed. He kept looking at John and then to me, probably wondering how this man ended up with this woman.

As we emptied out our van and attempted to put two car seats in the back of John's mom's 1991 Nissan 240, two door hatchback, I wondered how I had managed to screw things up so badly. Here we were, all four of us, along with car seats, a stroller, a diaper bag and all the papers from my glove compartment cramped up in this little car. We had this one little borrowed car for the two of us. I needed to move into my new classroom, in a new school. We had to buy a new car, and were probably going to have to buy another one we surely could not afford.

I started to cry again as the rain poured down in the muggy, mosquito infested humidity.

And my dear husband wiped my tears, told me it was going to be okay and drove us off in circus clown car fashion.

The REALLY embarrassing part came when we went to pick up John's new car. Matthew had insisted in coming with us and we obliged. It had been one hell of a week, and frankly, neither of us were in the mood to deal with a whining three year old.

As the man hands over the keys to John's car, Matthew exclaims, "My mommy put diesel in her car and drove it! I think the car is broken now."

As I looked for the ground beneath me to just open up and swallow me whole, the man, never missing a beat, handed John his business card, should we need his services sooner rather than later.

The good news: We did not have to replace the van, just the fuel tank, the fuel injection system, all the pistons, etc. The price tag was a hefty $1900. It might have been cheaper to just replace the car.

I had to wait over a month and a half to get my car back. When the day finally arrived and I went to get it, the mechanic was almost afraid to hand me the keys. He was sure I would be back.

The funniest thing was how Matthew would tremble every single time we pulled into a gas station for a good year after this happened. He would calmly remind me not to put diesel in the car.

Now that I come to think of it, I think perhaps that's why Matthew learned to read so quickly. So he could divert disaster from happening again!

I have told this story countless times over the course of six years. Where this once was so humiliating to me, I cannot tell you how much laughter this has caused me since then. No mistake is too big after this, right?

I'd like to pass The Oh My Blog award to the following bloggers, all of whom I think may have some fun with this one:

Jen and Sarah at Momalom

The rules of the Award are:

1. Get really excited that you got the coolest award EVER!

2. Choose ONE of the following options of accepting the OMB award:

(a) Get really drunk and blog for 15 minutes straight, or for as long as you can focus.

(b) Write about your most embarrassing moment.

(c) Write a “Soundtrack of your childhood” post.

(d) Make your next blog a ‘vlog’/video blog. Basically, you’re talking to the camera about whatever.

(e) Take a picture of yourself first thing in the morning, before you do anything else (hair, make up,

etc) and post it.

3. Pass the award on to at least three, but preferably more, awesome bloggers as yourself.

Don’t forget to tell them.

Have fun, ladies...


  1. Holy hell, well I'm well on my way to number...wait, LETTER A. So maybe I should go with that one?

    Thank YOU Maria!! You rock!
    And new digs, eh? Very CUTE!

  2. Maria, It's well known that pregnancy eats our brains up - permanently! And I want you to know that I, who also once had some impressive credentials, would have done the same thing. Well, almost. I probably would have filled up the rest of the tank with Unleaded to let the two mix and then driven it. What are we, mechanics?

    What a great story and I'm happy to passed on the award to such great people. I can't wait to see how they respond!

  3. I'm laughing! My husband would have killed me! But hey, we're all allowed some dimwit moments, right?

    And now my brain is churning...:)

  4. Thanks, Maria! I remember when you told me this story. It made me laugh in that oh-i-so-get-it-sorta-way. So give me a few days to think about this one, huh? This should be fun!!!

  5. Oh boy what a day that was! I can so so so see myself doing the exact same thing! But you know what? You're real. It happens. It happens to all of us (maybe not all in one day, but still!). I'm just glad you were ok and your boys were ok. And you're still married. :)


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