Gone With the Wind / by Courtney Mehlhaff

Sometimes I think to myself, "Cotonee, life is not like a movie. Movies, in general, are kind of bullshit. You will never bump into a handsome architect on the street and fall in love while you awkwardly pick up the papers you've dropped. You will never encounter a medical examiner who is so obviously bored with his job that he eats snacks around dead bodies. You will never do anything heroic in slow motion." And all this is true. Most days.

But last Friday, I truly had a movie moment, and it occurred in a parking lot downtown. I had just swiped my credit card and purchased an evening's space. As I reached down to retrieve my receipt from the machine, a gust of wind caught it and swept it onto the pavement.

If you're thinking, "What's the big deal?" I would normally agree with you. Except that I needed to display the receipt on my dash to prove I had paid.

I made another grab, but too late. The little slip of paper fluttered onto the trunk of a nearby car. But just as I lunged again, it jumped up on a current of chilly air and began floating above my head.

I don't think I can emphasize this enough. It floated above my head, just out of arm's reach, dancing its way higher and higher in a mischievous October wind vortex that I think was simultaneously giving me the finger and laughing at me.

So there I was, standing alone in a parking lot, staring hopelessly skyward at my receipt, which was seemingly suspended in time. This went on long enough for me to look around for someone, anyone, to verify that this was actually happening.

Finally, the tiny piece of paper caught another current and floated lazily back to the ground. In the middle of the street. Where a truck ran over it. I'm not kidding. A huge truck ran it over, and then the receipt took off again, as though miraculously resurrected by the blustery day.

At this point, I was laughing so hard that I literally had to sit down. The ridiculousness of the whole situation was undeniable (and likely entertaining for anyone driving by). When I could stand again, I briefly contemplated writing a note explaining my predicament and leaving it on my dash. But it seemed a likely story.

In the end, I purchased another evening's worth of parking time. Because okay, Universe, you got me. I guess I owed you that extra $4. If that's the highest price I pay for being an idiot, I'll consider myself lucky.

And . . . scene.