This week has been relatively quiet, much like the calm before the storm. Even though I can feel the simmering unrest in my community, everyone handles the tension, the unknown, in different ways. I’m fortunate to have my kids here, and they’ve surprisingly rolled with this new world and the changes around us like it’s no big deal, just a blip. They have always looked at the positive rather than the negative—but then, they haven’t had years to dig in to that hard line of life where you become obstinate and grumpy and set in your ways, thinking it must be this way and this way only and you’re not going to change for anything. They’ve shrugged off everything that’s come down the pike, adapted like pros, and never complained once. Now each of them is working again, although all in minimum-wage jobs. Their health is good, and they’re happy.
It was my birthday not long ago, and my kids planned to take me out for dinner. Because they haven’t earned their full drivers’ licenses yet, as the schools have been going out of business with COVID shutdowns, I was behind the wheel, driving to an unknown destination. Determined to surprise me, they directed me to follow the turn, go straight, turn at the lights up there… It really was wonderful. My daughter had spent time searching out a place we hadn’t been on Tripadvisor, looking for something with high reviews, something different to try. Of course, I was game, because my kids went to a lot of trouble to plan the evening, and when your kids do that, the end result doesn’t matter as much as them wanting to do something for you. That means so much, more than anything.
Anyway, back to driving. It was getting dark out, as it was dinner time. My daughter had made a reservation and was following her notes. “It’s up there on the left, close to downtown,” she said, then pointed to a brand-new one-story concrete block building. “I think it’s right there.”
I turned left, crossed the traffic, and pulled into a big parking lot filled with really nice, brand new, expensive vehicles. For a moment, I wondered, Where are you taking me?
I hadn’t parked yet, still looking around, idling in the middle of the parking lot, because we were getting weird looks from the guys getting out of their $70,000 pick-up trucks. I suddenly realized I couldn’t see through the windows of the building in front of us, which were dark and covered up.
Something doesn’t seem right, I thought, still stopped in the middle of the parking lot, my foot on the brake. The street was busy. I looked up straight ahead to a big neon sign that read The Farm.
“Is the name of the restaurant The Farm?” I said.
“Wait, what?” my daughter replied, looking at her notes and then around us. “It’s supposed to be here. This should be the address.”
We all looked up again, and my son pointed to the sign, which had Cannabis underneath it in small print. There was a second of silence in the vehicle before we all laughed.
“Okay, let’s get out of here,” I said as I pulled back out onto the busy road—but my daughter stopped me.
“Oh! There it is, right next door,” she said.
It was in an older hotel we could barely see, so I pulled into the next lot, not saying anything but thinking to myself, I wonder if there’s a backup plan… They were trying to take me someplace new that was supposed to be good, but the thing about online ratings is that sometimes they’re just not accurate.
I drove through the narrow lot, past a number of cars and some construction fencing up at the side and back of the hotel, looking to find a spot to park. At this time, it was dark and raining, and there was only the light from the streetlamps. I drove around back and hit the brakes, because right there was a drug deal going on. My headlights were shining on them!
Oh my God, I thought, then threw my car in reverse, backed up, and drove back around to the front to find a spot close to the front door. By this time, I was close to saying, Should we not find another place? And as I locked up the vehicle and we walked toward the small hotel, I was looking over my shoulder.
We walked around front because we couldn’t find the door, although we could see the restaurant through the front windows, with only a few tables. So we backtracked again and finally found an almost hidden door at the side of the hotel. We made our way into a small lobby, and there was someone behind the desk, following all COVID protocols, and yes, they had our reservation and a table ready for us.
The inside was much different than the outside, and the food was, surprisingly, not bad.
There turned out to be a homeless camp behind the hotel, and unfortunately, the homeless are preyed on by predators selling drugs. It was a sad situation to learn of.
My kids wanted to make my birthday memorable, and with that little adventure finding the restaurant, they certainly did! The most special thing about it, though, was the time I spent with them. Even though it sometimes seems as if only bad things are going on around us, there is always something good, too.
Have you read Amazon #1 category bestseller THE THIRD CALL? Book 2 in The O’Connells series is now on sale for 99cents. But hurry–sale ends soon!
When dispatcher Charlotte Roy passes along a call to bad-boy deputy Marcus O’Connell, they learn a six-year-old child is in danger. Can they save the girl from a desperate situation?
“Don’t miss out on the way this author can bring you into the family’s life as if you’ve been neighbors in this small town your whole life.” ★★★★★ Nanakjk, Kindle Customer
Click here to see my titles currently available in audiobook!
And did you know… if you already own one of my eBooks on Kindle, you can pick up the audiobook at a reduced price with Whispersync? Whispersync allows you to both read and listen, and you can even switch back and forth between reading on Kindle and listening on Audible without losing your place.