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Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Hummus Alone

I forget things on a regular basis. Today, I forgot my keys. I walked out of the house at 7:00 this morning, locking the side door to my garage behind me. I reached into my pocket and said, "Shit!" I had a couple of choices, ring the doorbell or call the house phone from my cell, which would wake my sleeping wife and 13 month old daughter incurring their wrath or I could just reach into my wallet and pull the spare key for my car and be on my way. Guess which option I chose? That's right. I may be forgetful, but I'm not stupid. I'm usually pretty good about stuff like that. Every night I have the same ritual. I lay out my clothes for the next day and empty my pockets on the dresser so I can pick them up and put them into my slacks. It just so happens that I didn't have my keys on me, for whatever reason. Yeah, sometime last night, between changing from my work clothes into my regular attire and playing on the floor with my little girl, my keys never made it into my pocket.

The little things tend to get lost in the shuffle. My morning load of things to carry involves my laptop bag, my lunch, and sometimes a coffee mug. At that, I am pretty consistent in remembering to bring all of them. When I start to add items to the mix, like letters to be mailed, books, or other items, I tend to lose the ability to manage everything after item number five. In that case, I'm prone to leaving something behind. However, the more important the item, the more likely it is for me to remember it. Case in point, my daughter.

Recently, at Ben Gurion international airport in Tel Aviv, an Israeli family of seven boarded a plane for Paris with only six family members present. Their four year old daughter was left behind at the airport. Wow, this seems awfully familiar. For the life of me, I can't remember where I've seen it, though. Oddly, enough, both parents managed to plane four of their children and begin takeoff without noticing their fifth child was missing. Man, you know. It's on the tip of my tongue, but I still can't figure out why this seems familiar. The four year old girl was found sobbing and wandering around the airport by a policewoman. After obtaining an identity she attempted to stop the plane which had already left the airport. It wasn't until the plane was in the air that the parents realized their mistake. I got it. It was an episode of Eight is Enough! No, that's not it. The policewoman took the child on the next available flight to Paris and reunited the family. Needless to say, the parents will be questioned when they return. I know. It was the The Brady Bunch Goes Hawaiian episode. Cindy got left behind when Miss Kitty Karry-all got detained for a cavity search.

I already admitted that I'm sometimes forgetful, but how do you miss your kid not getting on the plane? Were they not all sitting together? Had the four old upgraded to first class and they couldn't see her behind that curtain that separates it from coach seating? According to the grandmother who took them to the airport, they are a really organized bunch, so perhaps they relied on each other to be the one watching the odd numbered child. I've done that. My wife and I will go to the store or to a ball game and we'll both think the other has the coupons or tickets. Again, that's something that fits in my pocket. We're talking about a kid that would barely fit in the overhead compartment of the plane. These people managed to remember 18 suitcases and their duty free purchases but forgot one kid. I don't know what the layout of their plane was, but you figure a standard airplane has six seats in a row, three on either side of the aisle. If we guess that one of those kids was old enough to take car of themselves than that would put him in another row, while Mom and Dad sit in seats "B" and "E" with a kid on either side.

Now, I haven't done that much traveling with my daughter and she's only 13 months, so she doesn't get around much without one of us for transport. At four, I'm sure she'll be running and keeping my heart rate up as I try to chase after her. She's already become a little Houdini slipping out of the barricades we set to keep her in the living room. It's not that we just plop her on the floor, put up the obstacle and go about our way. No, if that were the case, we'd sit her in her crib with a toy and accomplish whatever we needed to. No, this is for when we sit in the living room with her. The barricade, which consists of a storage tote spanning the distance between our recliner and her swing, prevents an upright escape, while her older, rear facing car seat wedged under the swing prevents her from going commando and crawling under the swing. Of course, it won't be long before she realizes that there is about an eight to ten inch clearance beneath the recliner where she could easily navigate her way to freedom. Hopefully, by the time she realizes it, she'll be too big to attempt it. In any case, we never let her out of our sight when she could get into mischief. Now, I can count on both hands how many times I've been on my own with her out and about, but I've never once forgot her.

Reports state that the parents' noticed their daughter missing after 40 minutes in the air. I wonder what was the trigger for these folks that they were missing one their kids?
"Ladies and Gentlemen, this is captain speaking. We'd like to thank you for flying with us. In a moment the flight attendants will be around with refreshments. Just a quick note, we are offering some snacks, namely Baby Ruth candy bars and Little Debbie snack cakes. Our in flight movie will be La Cité des enfants perdus."
Maybe there was some idle chatter around the cabin.

"Oh, what book are you reading there?"

"Little Girl Lost by Drew Barrymore. How about you?"

"Don't laugh, but it's the first book in the Left Behind series. I'm so behind on reading."

"Wow, I don't think I'd read that on a flight."
And according to the report, when the little girl asked the policewoman for help, she said, "Where are my parents? Where are my brothers?" Now, if you had five kids and were going to "accidentally" lose one of them, would it not be harder to misplace the only girl in the bunch? Wouldn't she at least stand out from the rest? Be assured that after all is said and done, this girl is getting a pony for her next birthday. She just wrote her own ticket for anything.

All kidding aside, I'm actually more in shock that this is the third occurrence in as many weeks at Ben Guiron International Airport. According to the report...

"An 8-year-old boy traveling alone boarded a flight to Brussels instead of Munich, and two weeks before that, a 10-year-old boy was left behind when the rest of his group flew to Copenhagen."
That's not very good odds. I think I'll skip that as a destination. Not that I'd be going through that airport with my family anytime soon, but it seems that there is something stranger than absentminded parents afoot. I think instead of a baggage claim they should have a carousel where all the lost kids slide down a chute and just kind of go around in a circle until their parents pick them up. Better yet, I've come up with an idea for a gadget that would help keep people from forgetting their kids. Last September there was a story about a mother left her two year old daughter in the car after having her scheduled shuffled around. She was supposed to have dropped her off at a babysitter, but instead went to work and forgot the child was sleeping in the backseat. She was an assistant principal, mind you. This is someone who deals with kids all the time. Leaving her child asleep in the backseat was not a reckless act but the act of someone who became forgetful. There is no excuse for what happened but what if she had a device that would have alerted her that she left her child in the car?

The device could be as simple as a key chain dangler which is a receiver and another device which would be the transmitter sending out the signal. The receiver could be fashioned after those personal alarms that people use to alert others when they are being attacked in a darkened parking lot. The transmitter could be built into a a clip that could mount on a shoe or the car seat or anywhere in the car. I'm sure you've seen the battery commercial where the Mother loses her kid at the park and uses a GPS locater to track the kid, who went off to get a balloon, no doubt from a strange sweaty man in a white van. But that is still something you have to activate. If you don't remember that you lost the kid, you won't know to push the button. No, in this instance you don't have to do a thing but remember to look in the backseat. It could even clip together like a car seat strap connecting the transmitter to the receiver when not in use. Granted, that's no guarantee that you will remember to detach the transmitter from the receiver and attach it to your child, but it's one step closer. Now, the Brickhouse Child Locator has a distance alert but it's a bit bulky and not everyone will remember to grab it. As I said before, once I get four or five items in my hands, one tends to be forgotten.

Just think, maybe if I attached the transmitter to myself and attempted to leave the house, my keys would alert me that I've forgotten them before I lock the door and go on my way. Of course with my luck, I'd still make it outside leaving my keys to wake up my family. I'd be in worse shape than the parents of that little girl when I got home.

Author's Note:

For those of you possibly offended by the title, lighten up. Don't be so sensitive. It was a cheap joke, I know. Still, if You Don't Mess With the Zohan, can make $126 million worldwide and not receive Da Vinci Code level criticism, I think I can be forgiven for a little joke like that.

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