I have confessed my forgetfulness here before. But
recently, that addle-brained part of me committed what might have been
the most egregious act so far.
I drove away from the Norfolk Waterside Marriott
feeling quite satisfied with myself. I had managed to pack everything up
and be driving toward home by 9 a.m. Often at that hour of the morning I
am lounging around the room, considering whether I want to order room
But not that morning. I was anxious to get onto that
hellish stretch of Interstate 64, through the scary tunnel and past the
crazy maze that is Williamsburg.
As I made my way through the Hampton Roads tunnel, a
thought popped into what is left of my brain: Did you put your laptop in
the car? I shrugged. Of course I had! That laptop contains my entire
professional life. Not only is my first “A Party of One” on there, the
next three are, too. They’re just waiting to be edited and put on the
The little voice kept urging me to check. So I pulled
over and did just that.
No laptop. My heart sank. There on the side of the
road, I frenetically unpacked the entire car.
By now it was 9:45. I feared my colleagues had surely
checked out and were on the road already. I called the publisher, hoping
against hope she hadn’t yet departed.
Did I mention I was praying non-stop? I begged Saint
Anthony to help me find that laptop. I promised — probably an empty
promise — that I’d never bother him again.
The publisher answered her phone and — glory be! —
was on her way to the checkout desk. I babbled my predicament and dumped
my problem in her lap. She capably set the hotel staff in motion and,
while I sat paralyzed in fear on the side of the road, managed to
retrieve my laptop.
Thank you, Saint Anthony! Thank you, publisher Anne
Have you ever left something behind? I’ve left any
number of coats and jackets. I’ve left my precious pillows on a hotel
bed. I’ve left my cellphone charger and had to buy a whole new phone. In
my youth, I left my retainer on a room-service tray, necessitating a mad
scramble in a busy hotel kitchen, through mounds of garbage, to retrieve
I took a quick survey of several friends, and each
had a “left behind” story. One woman and her husband always designate
one hotel dresser drawer for dirty laundry. Naturally, they forgot it
one busy checkout morning. A week or so later, looking for her favorite
blouse, my friend got the chills: That, plus other clothing and undies,
was left in a drawer hundreds of miles distant.
She called. She cajoled. No laundry had been found.
Then, she got a bright idea. She asked them to check the dresser drawer
in her former room and, voila! The hotel was kind enough to ship her
dirty laundry across three states, free of charge.
Once, a swanky time-share hotel moved my parents’
things to another room without their knowledge. When they reached their
new rooms, everything was there except for Daddy’s pajamas, which were
left hanging behind the bathroom door.
He marched down and inquired. They checked. The
pajamas had been thrown away.
Not one to sleep au naturel, Daddy went to the hotel
shop to purchase new pajamas. The only ones were silk, and cost $275. He
decided he’d doze in boxers and a t-shirt that weekend.
Now pillows, pajamas, dirty laundry and, especially,
a laptop, can be considered important things. But none are so important
as what a friend left behind years ago.
She was a brand new mother. She had to renew her
driver’s license at the DMV. She took the baby inside for the vexing
ordeal, and scooted her along the counter as she inched toward
completing her task. It took more than an hour. My friend was fraught,
Overjoyed to finally receive her new license, she
raced out to the car. She turned the key in the ignition and was backing
out when a Maryland State Trooper tapped on her window.
“Forget something, ma’am?”
He was holding her baby.
Fearing impending arrest, she tearfully blathered
about long lines, and being a new mother.
“Don’t worry, ma’am,” the trooper shrugged. “It
happens all the time.”