Driving to the city today to take the son to his diabetic clinic. 15 minutes out of town I look down to see the empty light blink on the dashboard. We live on the edge of nowhere. I am miles from home and miles to go, but the only option really is to turn around. We get off the exit, knowing we’ll be late now, pull into the country gas station, drive up to the pump to see that there are hand scrawled OUT OF GAS signs on each pump… now we’re really going to be late. Drive back into town and get to the outrageously busy gas station and son pumps gas while I go in to pay.

I wait in the long line with the old chatty clerk who seems to know everyone. I pull out my debit card. I never use cash. Cash must be counted. I haven’t used cash for 30 years. My pin number is the same as it was when I was in uni. I punch in my pin number and it says INCORRECT PIN. I panic. What did I do? My mind goes blank. I know my pin better than I know my kids birthdays, but now I begin to doubt myself. I repunch my pin INCORRECT PIN it blinks back at me. She cancels and resets the machine. Punch in pin PIN TOO SHORT, now I know it’s the machine, but I feel like all of those panicked days when I worked in retail having to make change, having the line get longer behind me. I know it’s my fault, I’ve done something wrong. I can’t breathe. She runs my card again. Machine tells me this is my last try, it doesn’t take it again. I’m ready to cry now. I shakily hand her my visa card. It won’t go through either. It’s the machine, but the 12 guys behind me waiting for their cigarettes couldn’t care less, I’m holding up the line. I couldn’t care less I am mortified. I know there are funds in both accounts, but the days of INSUFFICIENT FUNDS screams at me and I don’t know what to do.

Then I remember the son in the car with a bank card, he comes, the machine chokes a couple of times on his card, but it finally goes through.

We haven’t left town and I’m already exhausted for the day. Every one of my brain cells is in shame mode, screaming at me that I’m a failure at even the most basic of public interactions. The open road helps. Driving always calms me down. I had to keep reminding myself that I hadn’t done anything wrong. That I hadn’t made a mistake or done anything to be ashamed of. It took the whole trip to readjust back into a place of calm and peace to be able to enjoy one of our last mother/son days together.

When things go wrong I am reduced to that 10 year old girl getting laughed at in class. That was 40 years ago and I still feel her shame.