Reverse Bucket List Memory 1: Calling Dial-a-Ride

I had one major problem when I was 8 years old. I didn’t have a car.

Mesa, Arizona in the 70s had plenty of bell bottoms, lava lamps, and cars without seat belts. The downside? It had no public transportation. So, having a car was essential if you wanted to go anywhere. And although they allowed 8 year-old kids to babysit, they didn’t allow children to drive. I know! It didn’t make sense to me either.

I like to think I would have done a really good job tending my 4-year-old sister or playing with my friend on that sunshine-y day my parents left me home and in charge. The truth? I had my sights set on a much loftier goal: adventure. And the car challenge? I only saw that as a problem waiting to be solved.

So, I dug into my dad’s piggy bank where he kept his loose change, gathered up enough funds to cover taxi fare. Then, I scheduled a pick-up time and location with our local Dial-A-Ride service. Like the perfect mix of a budding travel agent and tour guide, I told everyone, including my shoeless little sister, our itinerary and led the way. To my credit, I did leave a note. It read:

We went to Reid Park … in a taxi. Ha! {Insert ginormous smiley face here.}

Partial lies don’t count, right?

We arrived at the mall across town without incident after a lengthy conversation with the Dial-A-Ride driver. I’d like to say that I had the shopping extravaganza of my life, but shopping has never really been my thing. So, our time at the mall was short since my real focus was on the journey and not on the destination. To be honest, I was almost happier about the fact that the Dial-A-Ride driver believed I was 12 years old than making my way to the mall on my own. I did buy my sister some earrings, so kudos to me for using part of the stolen money to give back. I’m glad the stores didn’t stick to their rules of no shoes, no shirt, no service or we would have been in T-R-O-U-B-L-E.

We arrived home just as easily as we got to the mall. The difference? This time, people greeted us with a commotion that ended me in my room. Grounded! While I remember talking on our rotary telephone, playing with Care Bears, wearing Bonny Bell lip gloss, and listening to Grease on the record player, I don’t remember a lot about being grounded that day. The high from my adventure far outweighed any punishment. Sometimes, you just need to take matters into your own hands and for me, calling Dial-A-Ride was just the thing to make everything right in the universe.

Why Does My Dial-a-Ride Adventure Top My Reverse Bucket List?

I got grounded for lying and stealing not to mention going across town via Dial-A-Ride. I wasn’t able to play with my friend again until I was an adult (not kidding about that). Still, my Dial-a-Ride adventure remains one of my happiest memories from my childhood for two reasons:

  1. My mom got over being mad at me mostly for scaring her. (Why were people leaving 8 year-old children home alone to babysit in the 70s anyway?) Ever since, she has had this story on repeat. Instead of emphasizing how I lied and stole, she shares what a creative child I was. And this leads me to my second point.
  2. This adventure in large part defines my personality as a creative, problem-solving, adventure seeker, traveler, organizer/leader, and someone who loves the journey.

What is a story from your childhood that defines you? What is the number one item on your Reverse Bucket List?

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