The sun was setting as I made my way out of the downtown core. I was driving the station van, I had the brick cell phone, gas cards, and directions; I was on my way.
I was to contact the on-air personality when I was getting close to the destination. No problem, I thought. I began to feel confident. Driving this van was no big deal, other than people waving and honking at me, everything was going smoothly.
I turned on the radio to make sure our announcer was promoting the contest; which it turned out, he was doing incredibly! I heard him say that Laura had taken ill, so the promotion coordinator ‘little Paula’, as he endearingly referred to me, would be arriving at the destination. Oh boy, I hated to be front and centre, Ugh! Oh well, I thought, it’s only one night; I can do this!
The next hour is where everything went awry. I drove and drove and drove and yes became lost. In the meantime, Joe, who was the on-air announcer, kept repeating that I should be close to the gas station.
Oh boy, I had begun to panic. I didn’t have time to pull over and ask for directions, I seemed to be driving in circles. I was looking for ‘Hurontario’ street, but for the life of me couldn’t find it. I made lefts, then rights, then rights again, but to no avail. I looked for a map, but could not find one in the van.
Just then Joe announced that I would be at the gas station within the next few minutes at the corner of Hurontario in Oakville.
Oakville? I had no idea I was supposed to be in Oakville. I wasn’t even close to Oakville. In fact, I had no idea where Oakville was!
I decided to call Joe at the station. I turned down the radio, pulled over, and dialed the control room number.
I reached Joe’s producer who immediately put me through to Joe. I had no idea that Joe had decided to put me on-air.
‘Good evening, Paula, have you reached our destination?’ Joe said in his low radio voice.
‘Ah, yeah about that Joe, I seem to be lost’ I said.
Laughter, ‘That’s funny, but really, are you close yet?’ Joe said chuckling.
‘No Joe, really, I’m lost. I can’t find Hurontario street, I’ve been driving around in circles, I’m sure I’ve seen this corner 10x now.’ I said frustrated.
‘Really? You’re lost?’ He said disbelievingly.
‘Joe, I wouldn’t lie about this’ I said.
Then silence. Oh oh, my job’s probably on the line right now. Crap!
‘Joe? Are you there?’
Laughter again. What was it with these guys? I couldn’t find the humour in any of this.
Then Joe came back on the line,
‘Paula, you are on the air’. He continued, ‘If anyone is out there listening and spots the van, please help out our promotion coordinator, she seems to be lost’.
I threw my head back, ugh! Really? I’m embarrassed as it is. Now everyone listening will know that I’m lost.
Then Joe said, ‘Paula, do you think you can make it back to the station?’
‘I don’t know Joe, probably at some point, once I figure out where the heck I am.’ I said.
‘Come back Paula, we will do this again tomorrow, don’t worry.’
By now hours had passed. The poor people who drove to the destination were left without a promotional gas card. I felt that there might not be a tomorrow. I was sure that I had signed my own pink slip.
‘Okay, I’ll try to make it back to the station.’ I said dejected.
‘Good, drive safely; we’ll get this sorted out. Anyone waiting at the gas station, please leave your name, phone number, and address and we will have a gas card sent to you’, Joe said. ‘We apologize, but sometimes things happen, and let’s just hope that Paula can make it back to the station before SHE runs out of gas.’ He said with a chuckle.
At that moment I wanted to hug Joe. He took all this in stride and came up with a solution on the fly, yet I realized it wasn’t going to be his ass on the line, it was going to be mine.
I made my way back to the station, arriving close to 10 p.m.
God, this was the longest day of my life, I thought. I’m exhausted and needed to go home, curl up in a ball, and hope that this was all a bad dream.