The first place we found that wasn't already closed was a Best Western. It was nice and warm in there. There were two old couples lying almost asleep on each of the two couches in front of the TV. Chris and I made our way to a table on the other side of the lobby, and set our stuff down. I took off my coat and hung it on the back of a chair. I heard the soft muffled clang! of the Altoids can in the pocket hitting the side of the chair. The young woman who worked there came over to us. She was very nice. She welcomed us, and bade us have a seat and drink some coffee.
"Are you guys going to close the lobby tonight?" I asked her.
"Oh no, no, of course not..." she said.
"We just got kicked out of one lobby, so we wanted to make sure."
"Oh, I'm sorry... No, we wouldn't do that to you, you know there are so many people stranded out there... we don't have any more rooms but we're doing the best we can to help people..." she rambled.
We continued our little casual conversation with her, in which it was established that we were welcome to use their free wireless internet and breakfast-making facilities.
This time it was for real, so we went to get the car.
Coats back on, and out into the cold AGAIN, still annoyed, but expressing our gratitude that the Best Western lobby stays open all night.
There was an area outside the Best Western where the snow was particularly deep, and, wishing to step down into it as little as possible, I hopped somewhat clumsily to the safety of the sidewalk.
In the direction we were trying to walk, there was a big truck moving slightly and awkwardly this way and that, so we veered to the right and walked instead in between two parked trucks. A bit of a relief from the sharp wind... and then we were back out in the open again. Finally we arrived at the car in the Comfort Inn parking lot. It was then that I noticed something missing.
"The Altoids can is gone." I told Chris, who was currently more concerned about getting back to the hotel in time for the 10:00 weather. "I probably dropped it at the Best Western... I remember hearing a clang... I thought it was still in my coat pocket but that must have been it falling out. Ooohh, I hope no one finds it."
Anyway. In order to drive the car, of course... all that stuff that we had managed to move to the front seat would need to be returned to the back seat. Since this time, on top of everything else, we were in a hurry, we decided to move only the stuff out of Chris's seat so he could drive, and I would just lie down in the back for the ride. Normally the loose things in the car are very well organized, and carefully placed in their spot. But now, they were already shabbily thrown together in their front seat positions, and since we were working as quickly as we could, and only doing half the job, things were strewn all over the place. When one thing moved, other things fell. It became a huge mess. Eventually Chris was able to fit in the driver's seat, and I was able to squeeze into the back. Slowly but surely we made it back to the Best Western without slipping too hard on the ice.
When we got back inside, Chris glued his eyes and ears to the TV, while I started searching the floor for the Altoids can. No luck. I looked everywhere that it could have fallen, and there was no sign of it. I asked the lady at the counter if she had seen it, and she said she hadn't.
Well shit. I told Chris I was going BACK outside to look for the Altoids can, although he didn't actually comprehend me because he was listening to the weather. I came to the section of annoyingly deep snow, and thought surely it had fallen out of my pocket when I was jumping through it. I looked around, this time not caring how cold and wet my feet were getting. I saw something small, red and slightly rectangular in the snow a few feet away. Whew! I thought. There it is. On a horrible day like this, even that was too good to be true.
It was a pack of Marlboro's. That was when my balloon COMPLETELY deflated.
I was so upset... all of these things that had already happened, that shouldn't have happened... they all really, really sucked... but none of them would last another day past this one day. Tomorrow *hopefully* the sun would come out, the roads would thaw, the highways would reopen and we would be able to get the hell out of New Mexico for good. But now THIS!? This would not undo itself in the morning... I had actually LOST the important Altoids can and its contents, and I would never find it in this hideous snow storm. There was just no way. You should have seen it. It was impossible.
I walked sadly all the way to the Comfort Inn where our car had been parked. I followed exactly the same path through the two trucks, across the lawn, everything. Staring at the ground. Nothing. I walked all the way back. When I came back to the deep snow this time, I followed all our footsteps and desperately kicked at all the snow, digging an unnecessarily deep trench from one side to the other. There was certainly no Altoids can in sight. I think I actually snarled at the pack of Marlboro's before I went inside.
"Where did you go?" Chris asked me. And I told him.
"You still haven't found it?!"
"Well I'll go look this time," he said. "You should go check the car."
I knew it wouldn't be in the car because I had noticed it missing before I had gotten into the car, and I knew that I'd still had it at least when we arrived at the Best Western the first time. But I went anyway, and looked in the car. I was too cold and pissed off to care. It wasn't in there anyway. I went back inside.
This time there was a new woman behind the counter, talking to the first woman. The new woman was older and definitely foreign but I couldn't tell where she was from, probably because I didn't care. I especially didn't care once she spoke to me.
"Do you have a reservation?"
"No. I'm just hanging out in the lobby."
"Okay... You're going to have to leave soon."
"WHAT?!!!!! That chick said we wouldn't have to leave! We specifically asked her that!"
"I'm sorry, we're closing. There's a shelter..."
"I know there's a shelter! I'm sleeping in my car, I just want to be in here where it's warm until I'm ready to go to bed!"
Yeah right. She wasn't sorry. Just like the pansy bastard at the Comfort Inn wasn't sorry. I sat back down at the table.
She kept looking at me.
"My husband's outside and he's going to meet me back here." I told her briefly so she would quit staring. I looked around at the floor again but there was no hope.
Twice while I was sitting there she said stuff like, "I'm going to have to ask you to leave now," and "Are you going to be leaving soon?"
"I'm waiting... for... my... husband..." I told her again. Slowly, not because I wanted to sound clearer, but because it was hard for me not to shout.
Finally Chris got back, with no good news of the Altoids can. Then I gave him the other bad news. Once again, we were being tossed out into the murderous snow storm without a place to go. Since we were out there, we continued to look for it; Chris, desperately at this point, and I, hopelessly.