Neighborhood News & Notes
By: Tracy Doren
January 24, 2009

“Oh, what a night. Mid-January, back in 2009.
What a very special time for me, ‘cause I remember what a night.”

With apologies to Frankie Valli, but somehow his song popped into my head while I was thinking about the rescue of my poor, stranded car from the parking lot at Gammage Auditorium last week.

This adventure-in-pursuit-of-a-theme-song started with a trip to see The Lion King with my daughter and her Brownie troop.

We arrived in plenty of time to find our seats and settle in for what turned out to be a truly spectacular production. The characters came to life on stage in a way I couldn’t have imagined. The singing, dancing and costumes, likewise, were indeed memorable.

We enjoyed the 2½-hour show, then ventured backstage for a once-in-a-lifetime chance to meet the actors and be regaled with some behind-the-scenes secrets. Although it was well after our bedtimes, the promise of an “inside look” had been an opportunity we couldn’t pass up.

By now, the clock was inching up on 11. The other girls’ moms loaded their kids into waiting cars and, with all safely ensconced, my daughter and I rolled into our own car, ready to zip home for what had become some much-needed sleep.

While I was thankful to see that the parking lot was now less congested, a long line of cars at the exit would have been better than the long night that was to ensue.

When I put the key into the ignition of my usually reliable little SUV, I found the whole steering column to be hopelessly locked. While annoying, it was nothing more than a minor, sometimes-recurring problem easily solved by giving the wheel a bit of a wiggle. I thought. Wrong—my usual wheel-wiggling workaround wasn’t doing the trick this time.
By now the nearly deserted parking lot was practically empty, and my limited bag of automotive fix-it tricks, as well as my options, had seriously dwindled.

Who did I know who might come to the aid of a stranded mom and her sweet little Girl Scout at so late an hour? Although I have an address book full of friends and family I can count on in a pinch, knowing just the right one to call after 11 on a weeknight doesn’t fit my predetermined emergency-rescue plan. In this case, only one regular night-owl came to mind: my amiable coworker, Kyle Maki.

The assumption turned out to be accurate. Kyle was awake and surprisingly glad, at least so it seemed, to rise to the occasion. He was quickly on route, and my daughter and I huddled near the comatose car to await the arrival of our knight in shining armor.

But now a new dilemma: Was this where our good fortune would end? Out of the shadows, in what seemed a bit menacing given the late hour and desolateness of the parking lot, came a group of teenage boys, headed directly toward us.

Oh, oh, I thought. Here comes trouble. Not so. A thoughtful and well-meaning group they turned out to be, even trying to Google some solutions on their Blackberrys. No luck. But their thoughtful aid was appreciated, and gave both my daughter and me a pleasant diversion from the cold as we waited for our ride.

Minutes later our rescuer showed up, and we were safely headed home.

Finally, an hour later, lying in bed waiting for sleep to attack the flow of adrenaline, I reflected on the exhausting series of events. It had been, despite a few moments of borderline misery, a curiously rewarding experience, cast with both friends and strangers.

So here’s what I concluded: Sometimes you’re given a crisis, sometimes you’re given a gift. Sometimes it’s both. I’m wondering if the people in that airliner that landed on the Hudson River might have had the same realization.
Like Frankie said, “Oh, what a night.”




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