There was a good reason I pulled up to the toll booth with only 60 cents to my name. But let me back up…
Liam woke up completely illness-free Tuesday, so I decided to take him along to do my shopping at the Laiki. His only experience with Laikis was, well, a bit regrettable. Violet stayed with the babysitter, so Liam and I got some quality mommy-son time. Liam held the list while I made stops for bananas, oranges, kiwis, avocados, and the like. Liam got into the spirit and asked for a ripe, red apple. And the vendor winked and gave it to him for free! He managed to score a free cucumber, too! I got him to try a raisin, and after declaring them delicious, we got a scoopful. He couldn’t wait to try them for lunch when we got home. Take that, picky eating!
We were having such a lovely time, we decided to stop by the little park nearby, the one with the monkey bars low enough for him to try. That turned out to be our undoing. Some idiot let his rambunctious dog run around in the park, and it frightened poor Liam to tears when it jumped up on him. He cried most of the way home, and he suddenly wasn’t much in the mood to try out his new foods. I can’t say I blame him. I have a history of bad dog interactions myself, and this dog kind of freaked me out, too. What if Liam had been bitten? I have the number for an ambulance the embassy gave me (it’s not 911), and we have certain hospitals we’re supposed to use, but of course I haven’t looked at all that very thoroughly. We have a special emergency number to call the embassy security people. I’m sure they would have talked me through it. But, still. It just makes my heart ache thinking about it.
I decided we all needed a little pick-me-up. How about dinner at IKEA? Liam hadn’t been to the IKEA in Athens yet, and I’d promised to take him over spring break. Yay, now everyone was happy!
Inside the IKEA showroom I went to get my phone to take some photos when I realized…no phone. No wallet.
All my stuff was still in my hobo cart from our trip to the Laiki. I’d had some extra change in the car for the toll on the way there, but I only had 60 cents left. And the toll road is the only way to get back home.
I wasn’t sure what to expect when I pulled up to the toll booth. Amazingly, the last two cities I’ve lived in had toll roads and I’ve never had this happen to me. Could I flash them a smile and a little cleavage and get out of it like speeding ticket back in the States? Should I break down into tears? Will they make me pay a fine?
Turns out it’s really no Big Deal. The gal in the booth instructed me to pull over after she let me through, and a very polite gentleman took down some info and gave me a slip. I had 30 days to present the slip to any toll booth in the area to pay back the toll I owed. No sweat! And when I came through the toll booth on my way back to the IKEA (We really had our hearts set on fries and meatballs for dinner), I was instructed to pull over to the right again so they could run a receipt out to my car. Violet got a nice long nap out of the deal, so it all turned out.
At dinner, as I was cutting up meatballs and ladling fries right on the table in front of my eleven-month-old, I was lamenting to Liam how, when he was a baby, I’d always bring healthy food for him, and I had this special plastic I’d stick down on the table so he’d have a clean surface to eat on. I ran out the door without a bib or spoon or anything. Even my wallet! Seems like I’m less “together” this time around.
And he says, “Well, mom, maybe it’s cuz you’re older now.”
Yes, son. Clearly I am too old for this. Better call the nursing home soon.