Leon Aldridge

“Looking for my wallet, and my car keys.

Well, they can’t have gone too far.

Just as soon as I find my glasses,

I’m sure I’ll see just where they are.”

— “Remember Song” lyrics by Tom Rush

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

A desperate remedy came to me in moments of frustration last week. Realizing that I spend an average of 30 minutes a day looking for my cell phone, I considered painting it glow-in-the-dark emergency orange. Thought it might even work for my keys, glasses; you name it. I have not tried it yet, for the record, but I haven’t ruled it out either.

Good memory has never been one of my strong suits. And it seems the more historical the birthdate on my driver’s license becomes, the worse my memory gets.

As they say, sometimes it’s easier to laugh than to cry. And laugh I do now about a day when I previously reported for work at this newspaper. That’s when it was The East Texas Light, and the office was on Austin Street where the printing operation remains today.

Arriving early that morning, I discovered having left a needed file at home during the previous night’s catch-up session. As soon as Payne’s Community News was over, I turned off the radio, got in my car, and headed out to retrieve it. With the file in hand, I apologized to my dogs, neighbors, the postman, and the garbage collector for startling them. Being seen at home during daylight hours was almost as rare as Haley’s Comet.

My adult ADD kicked in on the drive back when I pulled into the Farmer’s Bank parking lot and went up to the third-floor break room for caffeine. Coffee craving cured, I rode the elevator down and walked out the front door toward the newspaper office.

Walking has always been a preferred method of moving about the square. It’s a favored form of exercise as well. Like my friend and former publisher of Granbury’s Hood County News, Jerry Tidwell used to say, “If my other methods of weight loss are not successful soon, I fear I’m going to have to resort to diet and exercise.”

Barely back to my desk, I got a buzz from Lois Cooper at the front. The automotive store on the square in the current location of The Forge (give me a minute, and the name of the business will come to me; maybe) needed my car keys for an appointment with new tires.

Surrendering said keys to Lois, I said, “It’s out there on the parking lot in my usual spot beside the building.”

She was back in a minute with a puzzled look. “You sure that’s where you parked this morning? It’s not there.”

Heading for the door, I said jokingly, “I know I did. Maybe somebody stole it.”

“Your car was stolen,” echoed a customer at the front desk buying a classified ad?

“Whose car was stolen,” said Mattie looking up from her desk? “Was someone’s car stolen?”

There I was, standing in the parking lot. By passers stopped to see what the commotion was about. Anytime you see newspaper people gather in a small town, it’s worth pulling over.

“Call the police,” somebody in the crowd suggested. Then a dim light began to glow. Retracing steps in my mind, it occurred to me where my car was. “It’s all right folks, my car’s been located. Everyone back to work now. Break it up.”

As the crowd dispersed, I looked over the top of my glasses at Lois and said to her in hushed tones, “Lois Ann, take those car keys I gave you, and walk quietly over to the Farmer’s Bank parking lot. You’ll find my car there. Drive it the long way back. Not a word to anyone—and here’s twenty bucks.”

“What’s the $20 for,” asked Lois.

“That,” I said, “Is so that your ability to remember this incident five minutes from now will be about as good as my ability to remember where I left my car.”

Contact Leon Aldridge at leonaldridge@gmail.com. Other Aldridge columns are archived at leonaldridge.com

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