See Sam Drive: Lost in mid-cities

If I ever doubted that no good deed goes unpunished, the lesson was reinforced today.

Michael had a job interview and asked to borrow the truck, since the air conditioning is out in his car.

(This is February, you say. This is Texas, I tell you.)

So out of his routine was he, that when he returned to the truck after the interview, he realized he locked the key inside. He called to ask whether there was a hide-a-key.

(No, son, a hide-a-key is something parents make their kids do with their own car.)

He didn’t want to pay for a locksmith if Sam could come with a spare. There was time. Sam loaded directions in the GPS on his phone and headed out.

Sam is not a fan of I-35. E or W. He took State Highway 114 and headed south on Precinct Line Road to where Michael was, in North Richland Hills. That was probably a mistake. Maybe U.S. Highway 377 would have been better. He got lost somewhere in Keller — so lost that he pulled over and called police to get help. They came and gave him directions.

Sam made it to the parking lot where Michael was waiting and the two of them were supposed to follow each other to I-820, where they would part ways at I-35W.

I thought all was well and then Michael called me again.

“I lost him,” he said.

Every parent of a child with autism knows this terror. And now his brother was learning it, too. Michael recounted as much of the situation as he could, starting with the moment he realized Sam was heading down State Highway 183 the wrong way, and I was at a loss of what to suggest next.

Sam had turned his phone off to save battery life. That worried us both. Not only was he not communicating with us, we knew “Siri” wasn’t giving him directions home.

“Call the police. Make a report,” I told him. “We can’t do this. We need the village.”

A co-worker (one of several that talked me off the ledge today) offered to take me home and Shahla provided a bit of support via text. Meanwhile, Michael was making a report with the police. I so hoped that Sam would be parked in the driveway when I got home, but he wasn’t.

I put an alert on Facebook and started to regroup. I would take Michael’s car and meet him and the police in North Richland Hills where they were making a missing persons report. (Because Sam has autism, it would have gone out immediately.)

And then Sam came down the driveway. I called Michael. The police shredded the missing persons report Michael had just signed.

Sam's car parked in the barn formerly known as a garage

Sam’s car parked in the barn formerly known as a garage

It took awhile for the emotions to settle and the conversation to begin. Sam knew he had separated from Michael and had been going the wrong way down the highway. But he remembered the directions Michael gave and when he was sure things weren’t looking right, he turned around and went the other way. He stopped at a medical center to get directions, too, and then he headed home.

(So, Tim Ruggiero, not only pizza places, but also medical centers are good places to get directions, we learned today.)

We gave ourselves a list of things to do, like Michael joining AAA, and Sam putting GPS in his car with a “home” button, and me putting a hide-a-key on the truck, so that all our good deeds trying to help each other out don’t get so punishing.

And, a big shout-out to all of the mid-cities’ finest. You got to know autism today and you did well. 

See Sam Drive

Sam bought replacement windshield wipers today and, just like his father used to do, decided that five minutes before it was time to go to work, he should try to put them on.

Mark drove me nuts with that. “Oh, don’t go to work just yet, I need to change the oil in your car,” and I’d be standing there in my high heels and blazer and wondering why after 20 years of knowing that doesn’t work, he still did it.

For Sam, it became an all-hands-on-deck operation and Michael managed to get them on well enough that Sam got to work on time.

When he gets home, we’ll see if we can get those little guards attached. Meanwhile, I’m hoping the drought holds out for another hour.

Buh-Bye, PFY 478

I stood in line at the tax office for a reasonable amount of time, about 15 minutes, which was made merrier because Monte Borders came in halfway through the wait. Monte lights up every room he enters.

Then, I told Sam’s sad story to the clerk, handed over his registration sticker and $7 — again, not too bad — to get him on the road again without having his license plate pop up in every police scan he drove by.

This was something Sam could have done, but I didn’t want him to miss work and I’m just down the street. I’d already planned on spending the day addressing other people’s screw-ups (this means you, Bank of America), so I was ready to make a party of it today.

I asked the clerk whether this happened very often, whether she had given anyone else new plates because their plate number was in the warrant database. She said not very often, but it wasn’t uncommon either.

And she agreed, this was the best way to fix the problem.

Sam got a new 7-digit plate. I remember when California went from six digits to seven digits on their plates.

That’s about when we left California. Too many people.


Auto Identity Theft

Sam got pulled over again in Flower Mound.

He tried to tell me this once before, that his car identity had been stolen. It made no sense to me. His car had caught that officer’s eye because he was in the wrong lane for a moment, so I thought the license plate story was getting lost in translation.

Kind of like the aphasiac talk in Diane Ackerman’s book, One Hundred Names for Love.

But today, he explained it well enough that I knew I had to make a call.

You see, the officer recommended that he just get new license plates. That kind of recommendation doesn’t get lost in translation.

I made a follow-up call to the police department and the officer who pulled him over set me straight. Someone got a ticket in Balch Springs and didn’t pay it. When they issued a warrant for her arrest the warrant went out on both her driver’s license and her car license.

What got lost in translation was that girl’s license plate being entered in to the database. Sam got his tags at the Denton County Tax Office in 2008.

Guess where we’re going Monday? We aren’t going to try to bother telling Balch Springs his are not the tags they’re looking for. We’re going to solve this expeditiously.

Well, as expeditiously as a human being can experience the tax office.

Probably Not Probable Cause

Sam started asking me a lot of questions about when might a police officer pull you over, so many that I asked him whether he got pulled over recently.

He had. In Flower Mound.

As far as I can deduce, he got pulled over because the kind of car he was driving and his license plate closely matched someone the police were looking for.

And what was the probable cause, you ask?

Sam still has a frame around his license plate.

He wondered if his identity had been stolen and whether he should turn his car in. We had a long talk about first amendment rights, and private property rights, and who the police work for. I have no idea how much of that sank in.

But tomorrow, we’ll pull the frame off the plate.

Overheard in the Wolfe House #104

Michael (via phone, after his car broke down at the merge of I35W and 820): When you’re a little kid, you cry and then you do it. After you grow up, you do it and then you cry.
Peggy: That’s brilliant, Michael.