This morning I woke up and almost made it out the door early, but then I realized that I didn’t have my wallet. I looked in the usual places around my apartment, but couldn’t find it anyway. So I poured myself a cup of black coffee in the same ceramic mug I always take, and I walked out into the frozen morning, with no wallet.
My car was parked on 177th street, a couple blocks from where I live. The Bridge was still barely lit up. I smiled at the bridge. Somebody in a red car started backing down my street, following me to where I have my car parked. “You leaving!” he yelled.
“Yeah, I’m leaving.”
People always ask me if I’m leaving at five am. Sometimes there’s a few cars following me down the NYC streets as I walk towards wherever the hell it is I’ve parked my car–I usually can’t remember where I’ve parked, but today I did remember.
When I unlocked my car, I hoped the wallet would be sitting there on the center console but it wasn’t. I warmed up the car and pulled out, drove towards the bridge.
My LOW FUEL alert came on. I opened the center console and counted one dollar and fifty six cents in small coins. I began to pray I’d make it to New Jersey with the gas I had.
Halfway down the turnpike I realized it’d be so close, I’d probably putter in, skin of my teeth. But I also remembered something else, my badge to get in the front gate at the oil refinery was in my wallet. I called one of my coworkers on my cellphone. He answered, “Hey man,” he sounded like he was asleep.
“I’m staying home.”
“What? Why do you care.”
I hung up.
I called another co-worker, the call went to voicemail.
My gas gauge dipped down below an 1/8th of a tank.
I called another co-worker, voicemail too.
I left a message, “YOU MOTHERFUCKER.”
My coffee spilt into my shifter. I soaked up my coffee with a scarf that my wife bought me that I only use to soak up coffee when I spill it when I’m screaming at my co-workers over the phone.
I got in the middle lane and shut the radio off to conserve gas. I shut the heat off to conserve gas. I shut my headlights off to conserve gas.
My phone rang.
“Hey!” I said, “You at work? I need help, I think I left my wallet in the trailer …”
“I’m running late,” he said. “See you there, though.”
I threw my phone against the dashboard, it did this cool somersault thing and landed with a ten point landing into my coffee cup, but thankfully the coffee cup was empty. Finally I was winning.
I got off the turnpike. The gas gauge was below EMPTY. But I blew through a red light and made it into the oil refinery and looked like I’d even make it to the gate on time, just without my badge that I’d need to get through the turnstile.
I called the last person I had left to call, as I walked to the gate. He answered and said, “Bro, your wallet is sitting here on my table.”
“Bring it to the gate!”
As I got to the gate, there was my friend, passing the wallet through the turnstile, so I could swipe in, with just about ten seconds to spare before they’d dock me half an hour.
I fucking CHEERED!
Everybody looked at me. The guard in the shack. My friend. The guy who runs the coffee truck. Six guys leaning against the fence looking for a ride.
AT THE END OF
A FIVE GALLON JUG
MY FUCKING CAR!!!
On the way out, at 4 o’ clock, an ice storm was just starting. When I got to my car, somebody pointed out that I had a headlight that was burnt out.
I kicked my car.
The headlight came back on.
That’s how you fix that.