Your car is parked near Home

It’s funny how similar pieces of information have different levels of importance depending on the situation. My online shopping habit leaves me lost when I enter a mall. If I need to go to a brick and mortar multi-plex, I try to look at a map of it online before driving there so I can see where to park and which way to turn once inside the building. More often than not, I still search for a mall directory when I get there so I can visually get my bearings. Finding the store is the easy part; finding the “You Are Here” marker is more challenging and is just as important as the store location. As I’m back on the driving circuit this month, my phone has started to monitor my travels. Perhaps this is happening because I use the Waze GPS app daily. With no as-the-crow-flies route to Will’s school, I use this app to find the quickest of five or six possible routes. This app considers current traffic flow. When I get to school, the app automatically says, “Are you going home now?” It knows my routine. With one click of “Yes,” our journey home is mapped out, again, using the quickest route.

This smartphone is giving me cues at home as well. If it detects movement, a message comes on the screen: “Your car is parked near Home.” It’s akin to the “You Are Here” marker on a mall directory, but at home, this is absolutely useless information. After school on Wednesday, Will and I exchanged glances when this message popped up.

“Well, it would be good for someone suffering from severe amnesia,” he offered.

“I’m not that bad yet,” I replied. “Something more useful – like ‘Your Trumpet Is in the Trunk of the Parent’s Car Who Drove the Carpool Home Monday’ – would be much more useful,” I suggested. Now that would legitimate the word “smart” in smartphone.

Will has played trumpet in the band at this school since 6th grade. He has the habit down to a science, rarely forgetting to take the instrument and always bringing it home for his Saturday lesson. And within our house, it’s either in the mudroom or the office/music room. This year, band meets after school twice a week, and for the first time, the school has made it an elective so it also meets during the school day, and students get credit for it. During the first week of school, the instructor made it clear that students would be docked if they forgot their instruments.

On Monday, we tried out a band carpool, and another mom picked Will up and brought him home from an after-school practice. It all worked seamlessly and alleviated a trip for me. However, Wednesday morning we were scouting the house for the trumpet. Finally, it dawned on Will where it was: in the back of the mom’s car who had brought him home. He texted the carpool mom’s son – only to find that his mom had left on a business trip that morning. I texted the carpool dad.

We were operating on the assumption that the trumpet was most likely in the trunk of a car that was parked at the airport. With no word back from the dad, I called the music store where Will takes lessons. Yes, there was a trumpet there that Will could use for the week. I would pick it up at 11:00 and get it to the school in plenty of time for band period that started at 1:00.

As I headed out the door, my cell phone buzzed with a new message. I was hoping it would be a message from the carpool dad. Yet again I saw, “Your car is parked near Home.”

“Yes, but where is the trumpet?” I shouted at the smartphone.

In the van, I plugged in the smartphone and drove to the end of the driveway. As I prepared to make a right-hand turn, my phone buzzed with a message again. I glared at the device, but alas! It was a message of substance! “Trumpet in my trunk.” Carpool mom had driven carpool dad's car when she picked up the kids on Monday. The trumpet wasn't at the airport after all!

I turned left instead of right and drove to the carpool dad’s house to retrieve the trumpet. In the school office at 11:30, I added it to the myriad of other dropped-off objects on the counter: phones, lunches, iPads, and books.

Seeing those other forgotten objects calmed me and made me feel a little more connected to the world. The secretary’s warm, sincere smile as one student walked in to pick up his lunch reminded me that we aren’t alone in the September rush of creating habits and getting used to new routines.

So went the time dedicated to writing this week’s Hump Day Short. As needed, the writer pulls over and hands the reigns to the mom…

I must end here as I just received a text from Will. A Google doc that is due today has disappeared into the cloud-o-sphere…

Thank God It’s Friday.