We've had a really FUN beginning to the new year! (said with slight sarcasm)
What did I learn? I'll present it in list format.
Ten things regarding a child stuck in the snow on a rural road in Iowa by himself (which is how Other Jim spent a few evening hours on New Year's Day):
1. Answer those phone calls from children while you are at a movie, even if it's the movie Sherlock Holmes and you've been waiting all month for a date with your significant other.
2. Try not to let the panic slowly build as your significant other is gone 5 minutes, 10 minutes, 15, 20, 30 minutes presumably on the phone. You are allowed to waffle about whether or not to go out into the lobby to see why the phone call is lasting so long and to convince yourself that you can stay here because all you'd do in the lobby is bounce around and interrupt the phone call with questions like "is he wearing his mittens?" "What is he doing now?" "Should we go down there?"
3. When significant other finally returns, it's ok to realize you haven't been paying attention to the movie. You'll catch it again at the dollar theater.
4. Realize you are really really really grateful that the child was prepared for the weather (minus temps) for his little trips. He had his heavy duty chopper mittens, his heavy duty work boots, two hats (one faux-fur lined), and three jackets for his half-mile or so walk to the gas station. And feel really good that you reminded him of the need for cold weather gear before he left on his trip.
5. When child is not answering phone or text messages, you can panic a little.
6. Then you can sigh a big outpouring of relief mixed with incredulity when he calls and says, "Sorry I didn't answer your texts/calls because I didn't think it was polite when hanging out with a state trooper for an hour." The only times this child has goes without texting or calling this long is when he's asleep! And he always interrupts conversations to get his phone! I should become a state trooper. Then perhaps I'd get his undivided attention. Other Jim was lucky that the trooper happened to be at the gas station that he walked to. The trooper let OJ sit in the patrol car while they waited for a tow truck. They talked about the various functions of a patrol car. OJ said the trooper looked like Tim Blake Nelson.
7. Be glad for a helpful Iowa state trooper. Promise never to make jokes about Iowa ever again.
8. Be pleased with yourself for not getting mad at your child. It's not his fault and there is no reason to be angry with him.
9. Even though there is no anger, there will still be worry enough to stay up until the child gets home. Twiddle thumbs if necessary. Or watch a movie and knit.
10. Yes, you would let him do it again. And next time, he'll have a little car emergency care kit with him and a little shovel and some kitty litter for traction. These are learning experiences and both parent and child learned a great deal.
I am grateful for cell phones too so OJ could call us and tell us what was going on. He handled himself pretty well for a teenager on his own.