Never Leave Home Without It

My Generation

A tale of a forgetfulness and small town love. And the Mt. Carroll Mobil station.

Published on: February 11, 2013

Last week was a little nuts around the Spangler ranch.

We had returned home from a family vacation on Saturday, then launched into a week of catching up on all we'd missed. Which was sort of like cramming three weeks of work into one, even though we'd only been gone a week. Never mind the math, just trust me.

By Thursday, I'd driven 260 miles, done one Master Farmer photoshoot, written a blog, written a column, written a story, edited another column and written two Master Farmer profiles. Plus, sorted and edited photos. Plus, written a speech, which I was to give to the Stephenson County Beef Association Thursday evening. I was tired but looking forward to it because, A) I'd get to see great friends and spend the night with my fabulous college friend, Jane, and B) the beef.

Hey, look! Its my wallet! On my desk...right where I left it...before I left home.
Hey, look! It's my wallet! On my desk...right where I left it...before I left home.

So I climbed in the car around noon Thursday. I dropped Caroline off at Grandma's, and headed north.

Two hours later, I stopped at the Mt. Carroll Mobil station since my car was on, well, empty. I don't usually run this close (wait…yes, I do…) but it seemed like a good place to stop since it was the last town before my friend's house.

I turned to grab my wallet out of my purse. That was roughly the moment when my stomach lurched to the bottom of myself. "Where is my wallet???"

I started scrambling, tossing stuff in my passenger seat right and left, thinking it surely just fell out of my purse and it had to be here somewhere. I knew I'd taken it out at home, but I put it back! Right?!

Nope.

Nada.

Zilch.

No wallet. No cash. No debit card. No credit card.

No gas.

Oh. No. At that point, all I could do was beg for mercy. I grabbed my phone and ran inside.

"I'm traveling and I forgot my wallet at home and I have 43 cents in the console and I'm two hours from home and I'm almost out of gas and if I get my husband on the phone, can he give you our credit card number so I could buy gas?" I implored the beautiful Indian woman at the counter. It's moments like this when I realize, I really am an idiot, and I just confirmed it. Out loud.

And then - AND THEN - she says, almost before I could finish my monologue of desperation, "Sure, sure. You look trustworthy. And I like your sweater. Go get your gas, and then we'll get your number."

I can hardly describe the relief. I pumped my gas and returned inside, where the nice woman and her husband - owners of the Mt. Carroll Mobil - waited as I called John and wrote down our credit card number. I thought surely she'd want to talk to him, to confirm that this crazy woman really was his wife and that she really was authorized to use this credit card number to buy this gas, but no. She just trusted me.

And to that, let me say this: Small towns rock. So do small town gas stations. And small town business owners.  It's reason # 3697 why I love small town living.

And the Mt. Carroll Mobil.