Sunday, May 19, 2013

The Second Case of the Missing Purple Bag

By Ruth A. Ringelstetter

Starring: James (the Long, Dark, and Handsome Buick), Joann, and Ruth

If you didn’t read the First Case of the Missing Purple Bag (which took place in 2010), you might want to read it before reading this story.

Fast forward two years to 2012. After recovering the missing purple (and pink!) picnic bag, we continued to use it, in spite of its worn-out condition. As we planned our annual spring vacation in 2012, we talked about the condition of the bag and decided that it would hold up for one more trip.

When we got to Ohio, we decided to spend the first few days using Zanesville as our home base. Each morning, we would pack the car with what we needed for the day, and then take off. Since we would be staying at the same motel, we didn’t need to pack up our clothes bags each day. We took the picnic bag, the camera gear, and the cooler, and hit the road.

One day we circled to the north and ended up back in Zanesville for the evening. Another day, we circled to the south, and then turned north again to stay another night at the motel in Zanesville.

On the third morning, we decided that we would spend the morning photographing around town, catching everything we hadn’t managed to catch on our first trip to the area in 2009, or on the first couple of days of this trip.

Since we would be around town, we decided that we would just get up in time to catch the dawn light, and then once the sun came up, we would return to the motel to pack up what we needed for the day.

Zanesville is a very historic town and we visited a lot of sites around town. Then we went back to the motel to grab the rest of the things we needed for the day before heading out of town.

As we left the motel parking lot, Joann turned right on the one-way street in front of the motel, moved over into the left-hand lane, and turned left at the first stoplight. We then crossed a busy three-lane street and, as we started up a small hill, Joann asked what the noise was. She said one of the doors must be open because she could hear the wind and traffic.

Then she glanced in the rearview mirror. There certainly was wind and traffic noise – the liftgate was open! And James, who should have been dinging his silly head off, wasn’t! James had been on the job for only a couple of months, and both of us were surprised (and annoyed) by all the seemingly ridiculous reasons he found to ding his bells. Sometimes, for no reason at all, you might get continuous dinging when you turn off the car, but that’s just James.

Note to selves, when you leave the most important door of the car open, you get one little ding and then a silent notice on the dashboard (which you can’t see because of the placement of the steering wheel). Can you tell that we are about to blame James for something more than just the open liftgate?

Well, Joann got out and went to shut the back of the car. But there was an empty space where there should have been a purple picnic bag. She then returned to the front seat and looked at me with a stunned look on her face as she told me that the picnic bag was gone.

We decided that a purple bag laying in the road was going to be pretty easy to find, so we turned around and went back. We couldn’t exactly retrace our route since some of the roads are one-way near the motel. So we made our way back to the scene of the crime (the motel parking lot) to hunt for our purple picnic bag. We pulled up to our parking space, anxiously scanning the ground. No purple bag.

We left the parking lot again, scanning the road, the sidewalk, the bushes, thinking that if someone had found the purple bag in the street, they would have either thrown it onto the sidewalk or possibly kicked it into the bushes. We had only been gone for FIVE minutes! When we got back to the same spot where we had noticed the back was open, we decided to try one more time.

Back to the motel we went. This time, Joann pulled up to our room so we could look around again. We checked our room and then she ran in to the office to see if someone had turned in our missing purple bag. No luck.

Once again, a right out of the parking lot scanning every inch for the bag. We figured it would have fallen out of the back as soon as Joann pulled out of the parking space, or more likely as soon as we left the parking lot, since there was sort of a large bump as you turned out. Still no bag.

When we ended up at the spot where we realized the liftgate was open and the bag was gone, we decided to go around one more time. Where could a purple (and pink!) bag be hiding?

After this fourth try with no luck finding the missing purple bag, we decided that we would go for the day and then check at the office again at the end of the day. When we returned that night, there was still no bag, so we made a trip to the store for some food items we needed and some picnic supplies for the rest of our trip.

In spite of the fact that we are officially blaming James for not doing a better job of warning us that the liftgate was open, we still swore each other to secrecy about this embarrassing situation. However, after we had time to reflect on why this happened, we decided that this was the Universe putting its foot down: “If you won’t get rid of that worn-out old bag, I’ll have to do it for you!” We also wondered what someone must have thought when they found it and opened it hoping for something expensive. Instead, all they found was a bunch of paper plates, napkins, bowls, and plastic silverware.

We have since purchased a similar black (and red) picnic bag. How long do you suppose it will be before we have the first case of the missing black picnic bag? We’re hoping it will be many, many years, or never!

Happy Shunpiking!

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