Eighteen by nyut545e2


                        Am I There Yet?

i   hate to travel. i mean, i really hate to travel. last weekend is a
    case in point. i had to meet my ex-husband in Dallas (a nine-
hour drive) to exchange our kids, as they spend their Christmas
vacation with him. not that i expected much for them; maybe a
CD player and a snickers bar—i’m not hard to please.
     i didn’t even get that. He just picked them up and left.
     After the exchange, in which i was clearly ripped off, i
stopped in an econolodge for a couple of nights. i stood at
the desk as a young man probably fifteen years younger and
two inches shorter than i, filled out the necessary paperwork to
ensure my room.
     “Are you traveling?” he asked with a thick indian accent.
     i looked down at my suitcase. Unless he thinks this is a big-
ass purse, i’d say sherlock here was overlooking some obvious
     “yes, yes i am,” i smiled.
     “Very good. you had dinner yet?” he asked politely.
     “no, i haven’t,” i said. “Are there restaurants nearby that are
still open?”

                         Deborah Hamlin

    “no worry,” he countered. “i will order food from good
indian place. you sit here with me and eat.”
    i stood with my smile still frozen on my face. “Uh, thank
you, uh…” i looked at his gold name tag. “…Mamoosh. But i
think i’ll probably go on to bed.”
    His face showed disappointment, but i tried not to notice as
i signed my name and accepted my key card, then left for my
room. Apparently, Mamoosh is a very lonely man.
    the next day, i went out to meet some friends for lunch, and
when i got back, Mamoosh was back on duty. He quickly rose
to his feet when i entered the lobby.
    “Hello, Ms. Hamlin! Very wonderful to see you!”
    i looked over my shoulder to see just what all the enthusiasm
was for, and smiled. “Hello, Mamoosh. And how are you
    His face brightened that i should remember his name. “i’m
doing very well, Ms. Hamlin, thank you!”
    i was walking past the front desk when he called out to me.
“Maybe you have dinner with me tonight? i’m ordering some
kebabs and rice pulao. sound good?”
    i turned and looked at my eager new friend, who was
determined to be my new friend.
    “Well, thank you for the invitation, Mamoosh, but i had a
very heavy lunch with my friends. i doubt i’ll eat again tonight.
But thank you.”
    Again, his face fell.
    that same evening, i was on my way out again when i heard
him jump to his feet.
    “Ms. Hamlin! you going out?”

                My OptiMisM is Killing Me!

    i stopped to answer him. Again, sherlock missed my long
coat and hat, my purse and car keys in my hand. the minute
this guy becomes a detective, i’m going to pull off the crime of
the century, i thought to myself.
    “yes, Mamoosh. i’m going Christmas shopping for my
children. i’ll be back later.”
    “Oh, you have fun, Ms. Hamlin,” he said. i could feel his
eyes following me out the door.
    i returned three hours later and heard the familiar scraping
of chair across ceramic tile as Mamoosh jumped to attention.
    “Ms. Hamlin!” he called.
    i stopped and sighed. somebody really needed to get this guy
a book or a tV.
    “yes, Mamoosh?” i asked as i turned to him.
    “i called your room three times today and you never
answered. i ordered good food and brought to your room, and
again, you never answered.”
    i was speechless. “Uh, you saw me leave, Mamoosh. i’m just
now returning.”
    His face brightened again. “no worry, Ms. Hamlin. eat
dinner now?”
    What’s this guy’s fascination with feeding me? “Actually, i
ate while i was out,” i said meekly. i was beginning to feel bad
for Mamoosh. “i’m sorry.”
    the next morning, before the sun was up, i was checking out
and Mamoosh was about to go off duty. paying my bill made
me feel like i was breaking up with him.
    “you have a safe journey, Ms. Hamlin. i will never forget
    yikes, i thought. Believe me, i won’t forget you either.

                           Deborah Hamlin

    i traveled on to san Antonio that morning to see my family,
and i felt the onset of a bad cold. i finally arrived five hours later
and the cold was in full swing. i shuffled my way into my sister’s
apartment and immediately went to lie down. i spent my entire
weekend that way, going from the couch to the bathroom and
    two days later, it was time for me to leave, still coughing and
wheezing as i began my fourteen-hour journey back home. My
kids still had two more weeks with their dad, and i needed to get
back to work the next day, sick or not.
     i was about forty-five minutes into the trip when my car
sputtered and shuddered, giving an award-winning performance
in the best death scene i’ve ever witnessed. i could swear i heard
it wheeze “Rosebud” before collapsing on the side of the road.
    My sister, who works nights and sleeps days, was asleep,
so there was no calling her at that time. i had to wait until late
afternoon before i could walk to a phone. By then, an arctic cold
front had blasted through, and the temperature had dropped
more dramatically than my car. At least it soothed my raging
fever. two hours later, my bleary-eyed sister arrived to pick me
up and take me the sixty miles back to her apartment.
    i called and arranged a tow truck for early the next morning
and met him at the stranded car. i paid sixty dollars for him to
tow it two blocks. At the dealership, i was told it would take an
hour to figure out the problem. i knew the problem: it wouldn’t
work. Apparently, they wanted more specific details. More
than an hour later, i was told a fuel injector had gone out, and
it would take about three hours to replace. they were in the
process of unloading my car to work on it.

                 My OptiMisM is Killing Me!

    Half a day later, as i sat in the same chair, staring at the same
wall, and memorizing all the snacks in the vending machine in
order to keep my brain moving, i was told my car was finished.
i thanked them and dragged my congested and aching body to
the desk to pay a $440.00 bill. Oh, well. i may not be able to eat
with the lights on for a month, but my car was back. i took my
keys and left.
    i was well past Fort Worth, texas, when i had a slow
realization sink in. the feeling of dread was overwhelming…
    i turned my head and looked into the backseat. My empty
    the mechanic had forgotten to put my luggage back in, and
i was now five hours away. immediately, a host of thoughts flew
through my tired brain, but none of them were good. i simply
could not drive all the way back just to retrieve my luggage. All
i had in there were clothes, makeup, and… the next thought
made me slam on my brakes. i started thinking about everything
i had packed in there, including certain things i will never admit
to. i swung the car around and headed back south as fast as i
could. Adding another ten hours to my trip, i finally made it
home with my luggage, twenty-two hours and more than twelve
hundred miles later.
    And not even a snickers bar to show for it.


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