I Choose to Laugh
Writer Author Janet Seever
- Fiction No
Awakened by the phone ringing at 11:35 p.m., I fumble for the receiver beside my bed. Who would be calling at this time of night?
“Hello,” I mumble.
“Mom, I’m not in jail.” The voice at the other end belongs to my 21-year-old daughter, Rachel.
“What?” My heart is beginning to race.
“I’m not actually. I’m fine. It’s my car.”
“What’s the matter?”
“My car was impounded. I found out that since it’s registered in your name, you have to be the one to get it out.”
I knew earlier in the day that her car had been towed and she had been trying to locate it. Now she was at the city car impoundment lot that closed at midnight, or so I thought. It’s located in the industrial area of a city of 900,000 people. I wasn’t at all familiar with that part of the city and I avoid even in daylight. Travel it alone at night? Certainly not.
I awaken my husband, explaining the situation. Fortunately his concern for our daughter wins out over his disgust at being awakened. The two of us drive down the darkened streets together.
“I hope some day that she will believe the signs she reads,” I say wistfully. “She parked in the half-empty parking lot of an apartment building to visit a friend this morning and ended up visiting for three hours. She ignored the sign that said “unauthorized vehicles will be towed at the owner’s expense.’”
A college student, Rachel had a penchant for parking in unauthorized places in the cramped lots at school, but this was her first towing experience.
When we arrive at the impoundment lot, Rachel and her roommate are waiting for us and are in a good mood. In fact, she got me laughing too. The woman at the desk stares at us in disbelief. No doubt she had seen a good many confrontations between angry parents and children in similar situations.
“Why are you laughing?” I ask.
“It was a choice between crying and laughing,” Rachel says. “I choose to laugh.”
“And why did you wait until 11:30 to pick up your car?” I ask.
She explains that although she had gotten off work at 8 p.m., she had chosen to watch her favorite T.V. program at 10 p.m. as a way to “de-stress” before she and her friend left in search of her car.
All it takes is my husband’s driver’s license for identification, and she is free to take her rusted 1991 Chevy Sprint home. She still had a hefty fee to pay, but that’s now her problem.
As my husband and I drive home, a little short of sleep, I think of other parents who get phone calls in the night from their children— who really are in jail, or from police reporting that their child was in an accident, or worse. I silently breathe a prayer of “thanks” to the Lord that our daughter is safe.
A “jailed” car is trivial in comparison to other things that could have happened. So many things in life are irritating, annoying, and inconvenient at the time, but are of no lasting consequences. I think my daughter’s philosophy is a good one. I, too, choose to laugh.
© 2004 Janet Seever
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