One night I was driving and I realized that I could not drive any further so I pulled over at a rest stop to switch with Chinua. We were all joking around, and as Chinua was getting settled, he remarked to Derek, "Why don't you take care of this trash, Trash Boy?" (I don't know why he called him Trash Boy, or why it seemed funny. Please remember that this was on day four of our road trip, after one breakdown and a whole lot of errands.) So Derek said, "Well, since we're here, I'll jump off and throw it in the trash at this rest stop." And I said, "Since you're going to do that, I'll get myself something to drink from the vending machine. I'm parched." And out we went, through the door, having communicated that we were leaving the vehicle.
Except apparently we were talking to ourselves.
A few moments later, I was standing at the soda machine, kicking it a little because it ate my money, (I never even got a soda out of this) when Derek came walking up and asked, "How long do you think it will take them to realize they've left us?"
He said he dumped the trash and then stood watching in utter disbelief as the RV re-entered the freeway. In Utah. At about 11:00. Of course neither of us had our cell phones on us.
It occurred to me that it could actually take them a really long time to realize we weren't there. They would assume that I was in the back with the kids, who were drifting off to sleep, and maybe they would think that Derek was in the bathroom or something. The only people on the RV were the kids, Chinua in the driver's seat and Chris in the passenger's seat, and Paul, who was sleeping in the compartment above the driver. Not being in the most observant of moods, apparently, Chris and Chinua might never turn around. I came up with a plan to call a friend collect and get that friend to call my cell phone.
Lavonne was pretty amused about the situation, and she did call and get through, except that when she called, and asked if anyone was missing, they had already discovered their BIG mistake.
Kid A was the hero. Chinua says that he ran straight up to where they were and said, "I want Mommy!" He said, "Well then, go in the back, where she is!" Kid A wailed, "She's not back there! You left her!" At this point, Chris turned around and said, "Where's Derek?" Then he started to moan, "Oh man, oh man, oh man..." Then Chris said, "Where's Paul?" "Paul! Paul!" they wailed, until Paul said, "I'm right here."
Chinua described it as horrific. We had just disappeared. We just weren't there. They hadn't even heard us leave the RV, so they had to assume that we were back at that rest stop. All the exits were amazingly far apart, so they had to drive a long way to turn around, drive past the rest stop exit, drive another long way to another exit to turn around again, and then come and get us.
Leaving your wife at a rest stop at night is ill-advised. I don't recommend it, but I do recommend profuse apologies and exclamations of horror over your mistake. Which is what Chinua did, and that is why he is such a superstar to me.