Gratuitous Picture of My Christmas 2008 Family Reunion
I don’t know if I ever mentioned this before, but my family is deranged.
I don’t exempt myself from this judgement, but I do like to think that I treat my personal insanity like a wet umbrella carried onto the subway - I keep it neatly wrapped & tucked away where it won’t drip all over everyone or inconvenience strangers. My mother, however, has a tendency to draw everyone around her into her madcap little capers. So it was no surprise to get a call from her at 7am screaming that I must get to her office immediately because the tenants who rent out the top floor of the house (& who owe her $6000 in back rent) were in the process of moving out. These grifters neglected to tell her they were moving and were apparently waiting until she went out of town to abscond without paying. Except they weren’t counting on a nosy neighbor (who I call Blue because she wears enough turquoise eye shadow to coat a Navajo bracelet) calling my mom to tip her off.
One hour later, I was at the office. Blue was yelling that the moving truck just pulled out of the driveway and my mother was on the phone yelling that I had to follow them. I went right back into the cab I just vacated and said the words I never thought I’d say in real life: ”Follow that truck!” The cab driver, who we’ll call G, merely stared at me and said, “Lady? You kidding?” I yelled, “We’re going to lose them!” and whipped out some money (of course in a movie, I would have suavely slipped him a crisp $100 rather than dumped a crumpled, sweaty wad of $1’s & $5’s, some coins, and a cherry throat drop covered in lint onto the backseat, but never mind that). Having morphed into a fountain of movie cliches, I nearly added, “This time it’s personal” or “Lieutenant, we have a problem”, but I managed to control myself. G was unimpressed, but he pulled into traffic.
A half hour into the chase, G had abandoned all his skepticism, was tickled pink to be involved in this little adventure, and was going down side streets and swerving around to “throw them off”. I thought about pointing out that the movers had no idea this was happening and are not paid enough to care, but I let him have his fun because the cab ride was taking longer than I thought and I wanted him to be in a good mood when I told him I was about to run out of cash. Mercifully, however, the moving truck finally stopped in front of a building. G volunteered to follow the movers inside to find the apartment # in case the grifters were already there. He was nearly beside himself with excitement and tried to act inconspicuous. To him, inconspicuous apparently meant covering the bottom part of your face with your jacket, not making eye contact with anyone, and furtively casing the building. Two women who lived in the building were eyeing him uneasily and clearly calculating how weird he had to get before it wouldn’t look racist if they called Homeland Security.
Meanwhile, I was on the phone switching back & forth between my mother & my job. My mother was swearing out blood oaths and ever more elaborate threats of vengeance against the grifters, sounding like Lucy Ricardo if she married into the Soprano family. The receptionist at my job informed me that my boss was ticked I took the morning off, told me honesty was the best policy, and suggested I tell him the truth. I agreed, and then hung up because I needed time to come up with the truth. Finally, G emerged triumphant with the apartment number and took me home. Before he left, he handed me his card and told me that if I ever needed to do this again, I should call him. I almost didn’t take it because why would I need a driver who performs surveillance work at my beck & call? Then I remembered I’m getting married next year and thought, “Oh right” and took the card.
The only thing remarkable about this little adventure is that it is an entirely typical morning for this family. Also typical is the message I just got from my mother stating that she wants to deliver a lawsuit & letter from her lawyer to the grifters via singing telegram and wants my help in coming up with a rude jingle.