People screamed, pushed, shoved and frantically ran out of Union Station’s lobby, and I was in big trouble.
My family was at Union Station to meet my Uncle Raleigh, recently commissioned as a second lieutenant in the Army. My uncle’s wife, Carole, his infant daughter, Pam, my mother, JoAnn, and my brother, Karl, were all looking out for my uncle.
As a result, no one paid attention to the small grocery bag I was carrying ... until it tipped over.
That’s when Ernie, my 12-inch, coal-black guinea pig and covert traveling companion, decided to see Union Station on his own. Ernie ran between the feet of an elderly woman with a red scarf. She looked down and screamed hysterically, “There’s a rat in here!”
Union Station in the late 1960s was not the well-lighted, open area it is now. In the dark Union Station, people might easily imagine a rat running across their feet. Dozens of people ran out the building.
I was 10 years old and the youngest member of the posse chasing Ernie around corners and among pieces of luggage.
Eventually Ernie was caught and reluctantly returned to me. I was grounded for a week, and Ernie spent the rest of his life behind bars.
NEW QUERY:Tell us about a time when you crossed something off your “bucket list.”The Washington Post is partnering with the Public Insight Network (PIN) to hear more of your 100 percent true stories taken from your own experience. Submit your answer to the query above online here. By sharing your story, you become part of PIN — a network of more than 130,000 people who contribute to high-quality journalism. Editors will choose an entry to run in the Magazine, but we will also share more of your stories online. You can also submit to The Washington Post Magazine, 1150 15th St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20071. Include your daytime phone number. Recount your story in 250 words or fewer.