Sam’s line was finally starting to clear. As she rang up the last customer, she realized she would soon have to direct her attention to the two young blonde-haired women who had been hovering near the counter for the last ten minutes. They did not appear to be interested in buying anything. People were always coming into the store to ask for assistance on all matter of things. But with the parking meters gone and replaced by credit-card-enabled parking stations, at least she no longer had to explain why store policy did not allow her to give out change. Both blondes had been busy with their smartphones the whole time — but looking up every minute or so to see how much longer they might have to wait.
Sam finished bagging the purchases and the customer thanked her and left. The two blondes looked up from their phones and eyed Sam with just a little panic on their faces.
“May I help you?” Sam asked.
“We’ve lost our rental car,” the taller blonde explained.
Sam was dumbfounded. Over the years she had been asked directions to and recommendations for countless bars and restaurants, including the establishment which allegedly served up sushi on naked women; she had given directions via public transit to points all over Seattle; she had told people the best places to get a cab and she had called cabs for people; and she had been asked more times than she cared to remember about using the restroom. But she had never once been enlisted to find a lost rental car — and she was not quite sure how to proceed.
“You say you’ve lost your rental car?” she asked, wanting to make sure she had not misunderstood.
“Uh-huh,” the blondes said in unison, nodding their heads idiotically.
Two male customers noticed the blondes and forgot their shopping for the meantime.
“Where did you last see it?” asked Sam.
The blondes exchanged dumb glances and the shorter one twirled a lock of hair in her fingers.
“We don’t know,” said Short Blonde. “We’ve lost it.”
“How far have you walked since you parked?”
More dumb glances. The two male customers were visibly amused and the audience had grown to include two older women.
“Don’t know,” said Tall Blonde. “We’ve been in a lot of stores.”
Sam got looks of encouragement from the audience of customers and so continued her line of inquiry.
“Do you remember anything about the place where you parked?” asked Sam. “Could you see the Space Needle at all?”
Dumb looks and shaking heads. One of the male customers struggled to stifle a laugh.
“Could you see the waterfront?” the other one asked.
The blondes turned to him in astonishment.
“There’s a waterfront here?” asked Tall Blonde, at which Sam had to make a valiant effort not to laugh herself.
“Where did you drive here from?” she asked.
“We rented the car in Portland,” Short Blonde explained.
“Portland, Oregon or Portland, Maine,” one of the male customers could not resist chiming in. The blondes looked utterly confused.
“Can you describe the car?” asked Sam. “What color is it? Did you notice if it had an Oregon plate.”
The blondes exchanged more dumb glances.
Up in the void, Icon and Nobbi were beside themselves.
“C’mon man,” said Nobbi. “I know this is funny — but surely we’ve gotta help them. The store will close in a couple of hours and then these two bubble brains are going to be helpless on the streets of Seattle.”
“You’re right,” Icon agreed. “OK. First, let’s find the car.”
Icon and Nobbi waited as their point of view shifted to a parking lot at the other end of downtown — and zoomed in on a red Honda Accord with Oregon plates.
“Now see if there’s anything inside that the twinkies will recognize as their own,” said Icon.
“There’s a pair of sunglasses on the dashboard,” Nobbi noticed. “She must have been missing them today! And there’s a pink sweatshirt on the back seat.”
“Good,” said Icon. “Hopefully they’ll recognize that. Now, we have to figure out how to get these space cadets up here from Pioneer Square.”
Meanwhile Shada had joined them.
“The easiest thing,” she suggested, “is to have one of us manifest as a customer in the store and engage those women in conversation.”
“Are you allowed to do that yet?” asked Nobbi.
“I’m not qualified yet,” she explained. “But I do have an idea. They both have phones with them. And I bet they’ve been taking a lot of selfies. Some of those pictures may be geotagged — and could provide a trail of breadcrumbs to take the girls back to the car. We just need someone to suggest it to them.”
At this suggestion, Busby arrived and offered to help out. Before their eyes he morphed into a super-cool-hip dude in tight jeans, muscle shirt and funky shades. His short dark hair was frosted blond at the tips and gel-ed to perfection. Almost immediately, he was down there in the store with the group at the counter. No one noticed him arrive. He parked his sunglasses on top of his head and smiled down at Short Blonde.
From there it was easy. Busby knew where the car was and he just needed to direct the girls there. As soon as he struck up the conversation, they described their predicament. He suggested they show him the photos on their phones — and he pretended to recognize places in the pictures.
“I know exactly where your car is!” said Busby, replacing his sunglasses and leading the blondes out of the store — and the assembled company at the counter were finally able to enjoy the laughter they had been stifling for many minutes.
The crowd on the sidewalk of First Avenue parted like the Red Sea in advance of Busby as he guided the happy and excited blondes back to their car. On finally finding it, Short Blonde squealed with delight at her sunglasses on the dashboard. She was so sure she had left them at Starbucks. Which Starbucks? Never mind — at least they had found the car.
Tall Blonde took a selfie of the two of them with Busby and posted the picture on Twitface. She looked up from her phone to find Busby gone — and Short Blonde looking at Twitface on her own device.
“Where’d he go?” cried Tall Blonde. “I was going to suggest going for a drink. How could you let him get away?”
“Well, you took a lousy picture,” said Short Blonde. “You didn’t even manage to get him in it!”
Tall Blonde inspected the image on her phone and indeed saw just a picture of the two of them.
“He WAS in the picture!” Tall Blonde insisted.
“Never mind,” said Short Blonde. “Get in the car. I’ll drive. You get the hotel address and have your phone give me directions.”
Busby, Shada, Nobbi and Icon enjoyed one last laugh.
“They’re on their own now,” said Busby.
(Inspired by something which really happened in a Seattle store Alene once worked at. Written by Alene with help from Icon and some of his friends.)