My mom was in town this past week. She is looking to move from SC to either CT (family there and home that she's always loved on the market that it turns out was built by her grandfather), PA (close to us) or FL (grew up there, friends, familiar with area). To that end, I was taking her around doing drive-bys of some properties so she could decide whether she liked them enough to ask a realtor to show her inside them.
I'm going to tell you a little story about what happened within a very short time span Tuesday afternoon and let you in on the scary way my mind works. Because do I think of all the possible good endings to a situation? Nooooooo. I have a talent for very quickly conjering up all possible tragic scenarios.
We drove past a farm with a roadside store that is a popular field trip destination in our area, particularly in the fall, when there are hayrides and pony rides and pumpkin picking and corn mazes. As we sped past, I noticed A LOT of people milling about the pony ride area and the entrance to the corn maze and then, after passing by where all those people were, just where the corn maze wall blocked my view of them and would block the views of all those people to the road, I saw something at the side of the road. I should mention that the road is, while not a major highway, a very busy two-lane rural highway where cars travel at pretty high speeds (I think the speed limit at the location of the farm is 45 mph, but cars regularly travel as high as 55-60 through there.).
My mom was talking about some of the properties we had seen and I was doing that half-listening thing while my brain was trying to process the scene, which it knew was somehow NOT RIGHT, though it took a few seconds before it registered exactly WHY the scene was not right. And the reason why the scene was not right is that the object on the side of the busy high-speed road was a little boy. A very little boy. A boy that looked to be somewhere between three and four. I interrupted my mom, "That's a kid." "What?" she asked. She hadn't seen him. I pulled over to the side of the road and got out of the car. "Be careful," my mom said.
So the situation was this: I was near my car anxiously waiting for a break in traffic so I could cross to the other side of the street to get to the boy. I was also about 40 to 50 yards up the street from him, due to the length of time it took me to register that a little kid was standing by a busy road with no adult in sight and pull over. [Possible tragedy #1 - The kid steps into traffic and gets hit before I can get to him. Obvious - anyone would come up with that one.] By the time I managed to get across the street and start sprinting toward him, another woman had spotted him and had stopped her car (and the traffic behind her) and was yelling out her window to him, "Don't move! Stay right there!" Unfortunately, she was in the same lane of traffic I had been in, which meant there was still the opposite direction lane between her and the kid. [Possible tragedy #2 (keep in mind I'm running a 50-yard dash all out and I'm STILL creating tragedies in my head) - The kid, who seems to be standing there in a daze, would either have his daze broken and step out into the street OR wouldn't understand what the woman was yelling and try to walk across the lane of traffic to her, either one resulting in him getting hit because despite a crazy woman sprinting down the shoulder of the road and traffic in the opposite direction completely stopped, cars traveling in the lane between the boy and stopped traffic were still flying by.] So in my head I was chanting while trying my hand at psychic communication, "don't move, don't move, don't move,..."
As I was running, I noticed that the woman in the stopped car had begun to nose her car into the oncoming lane of traffic. I immediately split my psychic powers between the boy and the woman, because the same chant applied to her. [Possible tragedy #3 - A car traveling in the lane between the woman's car and the boy swerves to avoid the woman's car and hits the boy.] After what seemed like the longest 50-yard dash in history, I got to the kid and placed my hand on his shoulder just as another car whizzed by. I turned him away from the road and started walking toward the corn maze while telling the woman I would take him and find where he was supposed to be. She drove off. [Possible tragedy #4 - The person who did the things I did wasn't me, but instead was a pedophile or some other person with less than honorable intentions.]
So in the time it took me to get out of my car and run 50 yards, I managed to come up with 4 possible tragic ends to the situation. Thank goodness it ended up like this:
The little boy looked up at me with tears dried on his face and one single wet one left on his cheek and asked, "What's your name?"
Me: "Mrs. Picklebottom. What's YOUR name?"
Me: James, are you here with your school or with your mommy?
James: Mommy says school is on Monday and Wednesday."
Me (racking my brain to try to remember what freaking day it is, because I'm still pretty shook up, and coming up empty): OK, so did you come here on a field trip or did your mommy bring you?
Me: Let's go find her.
James (apparently realizing he has no idea who I am, starts pulling his hand out of mine): OK.
We started doing this delicate dance of him trying to not hold my hand, while I tried to hold his hand, because no way was I going to lose this kid before we found his mom. We found her and his baby sister (about 18 months old) waiting at the exit of the corn maze. She didn't know he had gotten out of the maze before her and was waiting for him. I told her that I had found him on the side of the road, but I don't think it quite registered. I think she still probably thinks that I found him wandering around with all the people near the parking lot or something. I was too flustered to clearly explain the situation and I think she was a little confused about what I was saying. I did ask how old James was; he had just turned four.