Best Worst Weekend Ever
In 2010, our high school baseball team went to the State play-offs. I didn’t care much one way or the other about the baseball but I was quite fond of South Florida so I volunteered to escort two 17-year old girls (members of our school’s media journalism program) to the game so they could film the excitement for our Student Body.
Two young girls from a really, really small country town, Lindsey and Bekah, plus myself… one mature, supposedly well-traveled adult. Reservations were made, plans were finalized. Piece of cake, right?
Next stop: Miami
I can’t seem to find my driver’s license. Have you ever reached your hand into a purse or a pocket so many times searching for something that isn’t there, knowing it isn’t going to suddenly materialize, yet you keep on trying anyway? I stood at the rental car counter at MIA as the clerk huffed and sighed at me. My cheeks flushed in embarrassment. No driver’s license anywhere so no transportation either. We were still two and a half hours away from the ballparks where we needed to be.
Solve Problem #1: Where to stay the night until I can figure this mess out. The three of us took a cab to Collins Avenue on South Beach and I paid $500.00 all told for one glorious night at the Shore Club Hotel. If YOLO had been a thing back then, that’s certainly where my mind was when I plopped down my own personal credit card as my girls sprawled out in the lobby like a couple of Kardashians waiting on their driver to arrive.
Our room overlooked the ocean. Worth every penny. We unpacked our suitcases, slipped into our bathing suits and headed for the swimming pool where we enjoyed $17 virgin cocktails (in other words, $17 Icees) and took a dozen or more pictures of ourselves looking like rock stars. Later, we strolled the neon-lit streets, gawked at the Art Deco, then found and swooned over the front of the DASH store, before paying way more than we should have for a spaghetti dinner in some trendy restaurant with a maitre d’. We also bought dessert and ate it lounging on the King Size bed-chairs around the pool into the wee hours of the night. Had it not been for the fact that they were seventeen, I would happily have taken them to the rave taking place downstairs in the hotel’s club. But we had work to do the next day.
I spent somewhere around $1000 in 24 hours that day and don’t regret a single minute of it. Those girls had the time of their lives and because of that, so did I.
Solve Problem #2: How can we get to our ballgames, two hours away? I can’t rent a car, remember? I know just one person in Miami, my best friend Jena, so I called her. As luck would have it, God was on my side again that morning. Jena was not at home in her bed two hours away (in the wrong direction) as I expected. (Everything in Miami is two hours away, don’t let anyone tell you any different) In a wild turn of events, she happened to be just around the corner from me that morning, attending a funeral that took them right through South Beach. I told her my problem and she said “I’ll pick you up in ten.”
Jena rolled up in front of our hotel moments later in a sleek black Mercedes with her Jackie Kennedy sunglasses on, dripping in diamonds, and I thought my two girls would fall out. We climbed into the car and headed straight for the rental place where Jena simply plopped down an American Express card and procured for us a Jeep in her name to use for the weekend. Could this get any better?
We immediately took the top off.
After all, we were in Miami.
I hugged her neck, said a quick goodbye, and off we went to Port St. Lucie. I drove very slowly and very carefully, as you might imagine, with no drivers license. The traffic crawled the whole way, and we used all of the gas we had (Jeep probs) ….and we pulled in to town on vapors…yet another disaster averted.
Solve Problem #3: How am I going to get back on the plane and get home after all this? I practiced breaking it to the girls’ moms, gently in my head, about how I’d lost my driver’s license and wouldn’t be able to fly home with them; I felt so stupid having to explain it. What an idiot. I’m sure they never dreamed of having their young daughters kicked to the curb in front of the Miami International Airport, and it certainly wasn’t included on any permission slip they’d ever signed. It also meant I’d be driving my rental Jeep home, 15 hours away. So I called the only person I could think of who was super important all over the State of Florida, somebody who could pull some emergency strings for me, Greg Evers.
I’d met Greg through my job as a politics teacher at Pace High School and his sister Kay is also a friend of mine. Like I said, we’re small town people. As a member of the Florida Legislature, he’d happily visited my class as a guest speaker and at the time of our trip to Miami, he was still serving in the Florida House of Representatives. I even had his phone number saved in my phone, and THANK GOD FOR THAT. As he’d done every time in the past when I dialed his number, he answered the phone immediately.
Greg’s Southern twang was both comforting and comical at the same time. You can’t fake a drawl like he had. He called me Dawn, but the a-w was long and drawn out, and when he said my name it sounded more like “dong” than “Dawn.” In other words, he said my name exactly like my mother says my name.
“Well Hey Dawn!” Say that in your head and make it sound as country as you can. That was what I heard when my friend Greg Evers answered my call that day.
I proceeded to tell him about my predicament and he didn’t spare me the bad news. In a post-9/11 world, to get a replacement driver’s license, he said, I needed to have original documents on me, things like my birth certificate and my social security card, documents that I quite simply did not have. Greg asked me if he could call me back, he had an idea.
No more than ten minutes later, my phone rang and he told me to find the DMV in Jupiter, Florida and they would get me a replacement driver’s license so I could board the airplane. I asked how he did it and he said, “I called somebody I know, who knows somebody in Tallahassee, who knows somebody in Jupiter, and I told them I know you personally, so there ya go. Have a safe trip, Sweetheart. Let me know if I can do anything else for you.”
It was really that simple. With my new driver’s license in hand, I went back to the ballpark and the girls and I watched our Patriots make it all the way to the finals, winning the State Title in an electrifying playoff game! It was a weekend to remember for a whole lifetime, definitely one for the books!
Those girls are all grown up now but we still try and keep up with each other. They’re so very special to me, even now, and we still talk about that trip. We had a rare experience together, one I’ve certainly not shared with any other students throughout my entire career in education. It was a series of unfortunate events that somehow miraculously worked out in our favor each time. Every single thing about that weekend was supposed to have been a disaster and yet all of it turned out absolutely perfect. How did we get so lucky?
I thanked God for these three things that weekend:
- A credit card with a zero balance. What’s in your wallet?
- Jena, a best friend who would do anything for me.
- Greg Evers, a true public servant and a friend to the people of the State of Florida.
God Bless you Greg, may you forever rest in peace, Sweetheart. I will never forget you.