Two Cars, One Woman and Goldilocks
Slice Of Life
By – Sheri de Grom

Washington, DC, Tuesday, six o’clock a.m.

I hated being dependent on someone to drive me, but an auto accident had rendered me unable to drive for at least six more months.

The wind whipped around me as I stood in front of our home. For a moment I thought of turning around and going back to the warmth within. Government was shut down for the day due to the bad weather but I forced myself to get to the office; I had work to do.

I struggled with my briefcase and heavy tote of files I’d brought home the night before. They’d all required review and I’d accomplished the task by three a.m.

Something seemed off but I was too tired to consider what it might be. I wanted to be alone with my thoughts but didn’t have the courage to stay home. That wasn’t who I was. Not to me or anyone else. I would never admit defeat. And I certainly wouldn’t accept it.

My husband Tom had already scraped the snow and ice off the car and had it warming. My team and I were closing in on a big case and I was determined to break it wide open within the next two weeks.

I got into the car, pulled the door shut, and asked Tom, “Whose been sitting in my seat?”

“No one. Why?”

“Yes, they have. It’s different. It needs readjusting.” I fell asleep before we left our neighborhood.

It was nothing unusual for me to crash the moment I was in the car and I woke up just before we reached our destination. My body became so well-trained those years I worked for the government. I slept whenever the opportunity presented itself.

That day, after three hours in grueling stop-and-go traffic, Tom pulled up to the building where my offices where located. A member of my team met us, helped me with my heavy tote and briefcase and another long and busy day started.

At different times throughout the day, members of my team would ask how my ride into work had been. They’d never asked before. Why the sudden interest in my commute? Almost everyone spent three to five hours commuting everyday and that was if everything went smoothly.

The remainder of the week passed and every day I asked why my seat felt different, even the seat belt. Despite endless readjustments, nothing was right. I was Goldilocks and someone had been riding in my place.

Each day, my staff seemed to have a serious case of the giggles and we were not a giggling group. We knew how to have fun but we were goal oriented. By Friday, my deputy burst out laughing each time I happened past his office door. Something was up, but what?

Normally I worked on Saturday and some of the staff joined me but I was taking this Saturday off. I was tired and positive I’d never feel alive again. I was beginning to think perhaps I should have listened to my doctors and not gone back to work before they released me.

Saturday afternoon arrived and I actually felt human after fourteen hours of uninterrupted sleep. Tom and I decided we’d take in an early movie and dinner. Opening our front door, I panicked and called out, “Tom, our car is gone. Tell me you parked it somewhere else.”

Tom’s gig was up. His laughter told me our car wasn’t really gone. He’d pulled a fast one on me. We’d talked for a couple months about trading in the new Mitsubishi Eclipse. It was a smaller car than we were comfortable driving in the “Dodge ‘em Fashion” in DC. (We’d purchased the Eclipse after our Toyota Camry was totaled in an accident months before.)

The previous Monday evening, Tom had gone to the dealership to check on something and they’d offered him a deal he couldn’t refuse. The result, I’d been riding in a full-sized Mitsubishi Gallant all week and hadn’t known it. It’s no wonder my seat didn’t feel right. It was half again larger than the smaller Eclipse’s front seat. Everything was bigger and of course heavier and stronger.

My staff was in on Tom’s joke. They all knew I hadn’t a clue that he’d bought a new car. It was no secret how much I disliked shopping for cars and most anything else—other than books of course. And they heard the daily reports that I was sure someone else had been sitting in my seat!

I pled my innocence. “I hadn’t seen the car in daylight, so give me a break.” I told them. It was always dark when we left home in the morning and the same when I left the office at night—and let’s not forget I was almost always asleep when actually in the car too!

I still don’t shop for new cars with Tom and we’ve moved multiple times since Washington, DC. When trading in the Gallant, I knew I wanted a Volvo with all the bells and whistles, but I still wanted Tom to do all the leg work. For some crazy reason he loves to talk to all those sales people. He also loves to shop for furniture (Ye, gads!) and for my business suits. Fortunately, I enjoy having a personal shopper in the family, especially one with impeccable artistic taste. I’ve yet to return a single item–not a car or an item of clothing–and please never ask me to shop for something electronic in nature. Tom has the whole process down to a science. I have veto power but I’ve never had to use it. Who am I to complain? Did I mention I haven’t cooked or been in a grocery store in over a year?:)

About Sheri de Grom

Retired Fed/JAG, 5 yrs. on Capitol Hill. Former book buyer for B and N. Concerned citizen of military drawdown. Currently involved in mental healthcare reform, health care strategist and actively pursuing legislative change wherein dual retirees are exempt from enrolling in Medicare at their own discretion without losing tertiary healthcare benefits. Monitor and comment on Federal Register proposed legislation involving Mental Health, Veterans Affairs, Health and Human Services, Medicare and rural libraries. Licensed OSHA Inspector to include Super Fund sites. Full time caregive to Vietnam era veteran. Conceptualized, investigated possible alternatives, authored, lobbied for, and successfully implemented Title X, Section 1095 (known as the Third Party Collection Program of Federal Insurance).
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  1. Tee hee. Please tell me the Gallant was the same color as the Eclipse. Too funny!

  2. yadavvikas960 says:

    Very Well Written. Reads like a Novel.

  3. Lynn Garrett says:

    So Sheri! Lynn

  4. JK Bevill - Lost Creek Publishing says:

    What a hoot!

  5. thoughtsfromanamericanwoman says:

    What a cool thing to do for you and how sneaky! 😉 I also enjoyed reading a bit of your life. Blessings – Patty

    • Hi Patricia – You know, sometimes I get tired of being serious and always advocating about one thing or another. There’s so much that seems wrong about our civilization and at the same time, I have so much to be grateful for. The times that Tom is well and life is cruising along, I grab every minute and live in the moment. I also save those moments to cherish because with his bipolar disorder I never know when the moment will come that he’ll slip away again. I thank God for putting Tom in my life.

  6. That’s the funniest thing I’ve read in almost forever! Goldilocks and her cars… I’m trying to imagine a life where it’s normal to have a three to four hour commute every day. That’s just wrong.

    And I’m a little jealous of your shopper husband. He’s a keeper, for certain. Loved this story!

    • Hi Tameri – Yes indeed – Tom is a keeper. We are a perfect match. I hate to shop for anything except books and paper products. Everything else is left to Tom or the internet. And, you are so right about the miserable commute. However, unless you want to live in downtown DC or somewhere close-in, there’s really no way to avoid the commute. It’s a fact of life in DC. The sad part is that I was only 20 miles away from work and it was still a minimum of 2 hours each way.

  7. What a delightful story, Sheri. With Tom and all your staff in on the secret, I am so impressed no one accidentally gave it away. That’s true teamwork!

    • Patricia – My team wasn’t about to give Tom’s secret away. They never got over on me and they were so pleased with themselves. I get tickled every time I think about that particular time. Even my deputy who could be Mr Poker Face himself had a tough time staying composed all week – but he held it together.

  8. Mae Clair says:

    I love your Slice of Life stories, Sheri. They’re so delightful and this one was no exception. I kept waiting for the punchline and it was a doozie! How nice that Tom enjoys being the shopper in the family and you enjoy having him do it. Sounds like a perfect match. And hey, a new car is a great surprise–even if it took a while for you to notice it, LOL.

    • Mae – Tom’s always wanted to know how long it would take me to notice that we didn’t live in the same house – if I would just walk in a door with him sometime and the furniture would be the same and everything arranged about the same – would i notice or would I be Goldilocks and think ‘someone had been in my house.’ I almost pulled that on him. Maybe I’ll make that into another blog.

  9. What an unbelievable story, Sheri, and cute, too. Tom sounds like such a love – to do that behind your back and surprise you! Cool! The car looks lovely and will give you many years of comfort and warmth (or coolness) in the weather you endure during hot summers and cold winters.
    Don’t work too hard! Ha!

    • Patti – Yes, Tom is a love. He’s unbelievably gifted as an artist and tells me he needs the down time to think of new designs, etc. while he’s running about. Not me – down time for me spells NAP!

  10. What a delightful story, Sheri. I can imagine you doing something like that. You are so goal oriented that I am sure a pesky thing like a new car never surfaced in your mind. Too busy helping others, your brain is not calibrated to see beyond your next challenge. Tom is a great partner and it sounds like he’s also a great cook. What more can a woman ask for … a built in personal shopper who cooks !!

    • Florence – It took me 3 times but I finally got it right with Tom. After 27 years of marriage he still does everything he can to make my life easier. Tom’s been sick a lot and I’ve had to do it all so much of the time plus my work. Looking back on the times when Tom was able to do the shopping in DC and other places we lived and where I worked, shopping and running errands was something Tom knew I hated doing and didn’t have the patients to often complete. It’s always been a place where he’s excelled away from his art. He’s definitely a keeper.

  11. Jane Sadek says:

    LOL!! I’m married to a shopper, too. He likes to be in charge of all expenditures. He even goes grocery shopping. My only problem is, he expects me to go along and play bobble-head doll while he displays his prowess at saving money. I really don’t care and wish he’d just do all his hunting and gathering on his own. I’d get a lot more written if he did.

    • Jane – I used to think it was my responsibility to go with Tom to the grocery store but then overheard him tell someone that I slowed him down with all my label reading. Then, I heard him tell someone the other day that it took him longer to shop now that he’s reading labels. Funny how that all works out. And when it comes to running errands, I hate it. Tom loves to chat with people he’s met at each stop. That’s just the differences in us and it works beautifully.

  12. Denise Hisey says:

    Sheri, that was an awesome story!! You are wonderfully blessed by Tom!

    • Hi Denise – Oh yes indeed. Tom doesn’t want me in the kitchen at all. If he’s not home I’m allowed to feed the dogs and give them fresh water. I used to feel guilty about Tom doing all the cooking, et al but I got over that pretty fast. We had years when Tom was unable to do anything and when he’s able to take charge, I take advantage of every moment.

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