Luxury Limo Surprise by Robyn Boswell
It was a phone call that you would usually only dream about.
“Good morning – am I speaking to Robyn Boswell?”
“Did you recently join the Christmas Club at the Kensington supermarket?”
“Well, I’m phoning to tell you you’ve won a prize.”
Wow! My mind started racing – worst case scenario would be a meal in a good restaurant, but maybe, just maybe it would be a tropical holiday in Rarotonga or Fiji. I held my breath.
“Congratulations – you have won a trip to the supermarket in a limousine.”
My heart dropped. I lived by myself, I drove myself the ten minutes to the supermarket every week. As a total introvert I couldn’t imagine anything more embarrassing than having a limo turn up in my shared driveway – actually I don’t think there was anyway a limo could even turn around there - and why on earth would I want to do my every day grocery shopping by limo by myself?
“Um, thank you for the offer, but I don’t think that will work out for me. It’s not really my scene. Can you give it to someone else who might appreciate it?”
The tone turned somewhat frosty. I was obviously turning down what the marketing folk had seen as a grand gesture. The caller tried a little more to convince me, but I dug my toes in. In the end she gave me a day to think about it. I didn’t need to think – there was no way I was going to put myself through that humiliation.
The next day in the staffroom at school I told my colleagues about my weird, disappointing experience. Most people thought it was a hilarious proposition.
One of my friends said “But I would have gone with you!”
I noticed a few more heads nodding around the room. Uhoh – had I made a wrong decision?
That night I ate humble pie and rang the supermarket to see if the limo would come to school and take a car load of passengers shopping during a lunch hour. They were only too happy to oblige, so the next day I threw the invitation open to my colleagues. I still wasn’t all that enthusiastic myself, but from the excited way some of them acted you would think they had been invited to accompany the Queen on a Royal Tour. I soon had a carload of eager limo riders ready to take up the invitation.
The much-anticipated day finally arrived. Those of us who were embarking on the luxury tour to the supermarket spent our morning tea break in our drama room wardrobe and managed to dredge up some elbow-length white gloves and absurdly ornate hats that had done duty in one of our stage shows. The men grabbed boaters and bow ties. We didn’t tell the kids what was happening so that it would be a surprise for them all. At lunchtime, we emerged in our finery and attracted a growing group of very curious kids.
Suddenly, to my surprise, a car pulled up alongside us in the parking area. My cousin, Raymond, in real life a very important mining consultant in Toronto and a very keen amateur photographer, was in town for a few days and had decided to get into the swing of things. He hopped out in his pristine trade-mark white linen suit and panama hat with a ubiquitous carnation in his buttonhole; produced his camera which he had decked out with the longest lens he owned, and started snapping off photos. Even my colleagues were startled – they had never met him before and his Canadian accent added to the intrigue. I didn’t enlighten them right away and it sure added to the atmosphere.
Suddenly, a highly polished, stretched black limo slid smoothly down our long driveway. It was the only one in town and most of the kids had likely never seen it before. It was like the Pied Piper as it attracted an ever-increasing stream of excited kids who skipped and danced down the driveway behind it.
The driver, replete in suit and chauffer’s hat, got out tried to swat away some of the sticky fingers that were testing out the shininess of the gleaming doors and bonnet. He opened the door and ushered us in with a bow. He was a very dour individual and I’ve never figured out if that was his usual mien or if he was simply overcome by the unexpected crowds of ebullient kids and the ‘photographer’ clicking away. He certainly didn’t join in the frivolity and laughs and didn’t chat to us at all during our adventure despite our trying. Maybe he was embarrassed about the whole idea as well.
One of my colleagues in particular, the one who had precipitated my asking them to come to school, was so excited she was fit to burst. The rest of us were just out for some laughs. We glided off up the driveway, still pursued by a tail of enthusiastic kids. The first thing we noticed was a chilled bottle of bubbly and some glasses. Hmmm - it was lunch hour and we had to go back and teach for the afternoon. Did we dare? Of course we did – six people and one bottle of bubbly wasn’t going to harm anyone.
As we drove through the traffic lights at the main intersection in the middle of town, sipping on our glasses of bubbly, our most eager passenger wound down the window, stuck her white-gloved hand out and did a perfect rendition of the Royal Wave. There must have been quite a few puzzled people in the street who had a story to take home that night.
We eventually arrived at the supermarket to find that Raymond had got there before us and was once again doing his paparazzi act much to the puzzlement of the few people who were going into the store. I’d like to say that we were received with great fanfare and showered with gifts, but strangely, as we piled out and stood there waiting to be greeted, no one even came out to meet us. We wandered around the supermarket getting very strange looks from the few customers who were there at that time of the day; bought a few snacks for lunch to eat on the return journey and settled back into the luxurious seats for the fifteen-minute drive back to school.
As we reached the street where our school was, we could hear cheering. We turned down the driveway to find our colleagues who were still at school had arranged a welcome back for us. The driveway was lined with all the kids in the school who were waving and cheering as though their favourite pop idols had come to visit. It was a perfect fun end to a crazy experience.
When I saw how much joy it brought to my friends and colleagues and how much amusement we’d got from the whole experience, I was glad I’d been able to get over my initial curmudgeonly reaction to give my colleagues plenty of laughs and an entertaining tale to tell their families.