“I’m at the auto repair shop and they won’t accept my AAA card as payment.”
“Triple A is not a credit card and why are you at the shop?”
“I got a flat tire last night.”
“Was that the first time you’ve changed a flat?”
“I didn’t have to change it. The highway assistance truck changed my tire for me.”
“Well, my brakes failed so I popped the tire swerving to keep from hitting the car in front of me.”
“You had an accident! Why didn’t you call?”
“Why would I call home for a flat tire?”
Posts Tagged ‘driving’
“I’m at the auto repair shop and they won’t accept my AAA card as payment.”
Although she was a passenger in a minor accident (thanks to a quick thinking driver), Sarah has demonstrated excellent driving skills. She backs down our steep, narrow driveway to park. She travels Interstates and the twisty, dangerous roads of Knoxville without fear. She doesn’t just drive safely, she likes to drive. She drives siblings to and from schools and activities. She drives herself to friends’ and family members’ homes effortlessly. Sarah takes herself shopping. Sarah thrives as her own person. She transitioned to independence with complete ease. Sarah is no longer the immature, insecure child who needs her mother by her side. Everything was going hunky-dory until one late night during Spring Break when she missed our driveway. Completely missed it.
The wheels getting stuck in the dirt and slipping on long flower petals actually saved the car from dropping off the retaining wall. The mailbox that I would have rejoiced at the opportunity to replace was untouched. It was, by all definitions, a harmless mistake. It should have been over as soon as Dad rescued the car from its’ silly non-parking spot. Instead, it has left a bruise on Sarah’s confidence. She avoids backing down the driveway, even though she is incredibly capable. In my head, I know this was one of life’s easy lessons and she will emerge stronger and more aware. My heart just wants to put a cartoon bandaid on her knee and give it a magic kiss to make everything better.
Sometimes, when it is so cold my toes are numb or so hot my deodorant has failed me or so rainy that my fingers are wrinkled up raisins, I just want to put all of the bus stop strangers in my car and drive them to their destinations. Everyone would have a better day.
When a really groovy song plays on the radio, I have to dance. I get away with this at home. It is frowned upon when I am driving the car. If there’s room to pull the car over, dancing in the median should be allowed and encouraged. More dancing is a good thing.
Another Friday, another drive up to LMU to rescue my college freshman from a weekend on campus. It’s a beautiful campus, but the town is smaller than our high school. It would have been cruel to leave Tommy up there for a three day weekend. Besides, he is actually starting to make friends during the week, so the weekend of forced interaction with peers is slightly less urgent now. I don’t love driving. In my fantasy world I have a driver and I get to spend my time in the car reading books, working on lists and writing. My real life is far less glamorous.
I got away later than I intended because I had to make a last minute supply drop at the high school for the 10th grader. “I need a bun sized hair net by 3 pm.” Eventually, Evan and I headed out of town. Well, we went the wrong way and ended up at East Town Mall, THEN we headed out of Knoxville. Have I mentioned that I am completely directionally impaired? Oh. Sorry. We traveled along happily until we came to an abrupt standstill on the Interstate that lasted about 20 minutes after which traffic resumed normal behaviors. I guess it was just some sort of pretend you live in Atlanta social experiment or something. As everyone resumed normal speeds and spaces between cars, it was clear than the 20 minute interruption had disturbed some of the other drivers. Right before my eyes, the cars around me became animated Wacky Races contestants. Cars drove in the grassy median and the paved emergency lane. Motorcycles weaved so closely between cars you could have touched them with your hand. Someone pulled the Speed Buggy lift the body of your car up and over another car move. The aggressive driving was so absurd I thought we were being filmed for a B-movie.
I thought things would get easier when I got on the long, straight drive that is Hwy 63. I was wrong. The cartoon cars just added trailers with boats and Jet Skis. Instead of the usual smell of the tobacco fields to add atmosphere, the road was absolutely covered with the remains of skunks. I don’t know if there was an escape at some local skunk breeder’s farm or if that rural road is the direct path for skunk migration, but I have never seen such Pepe Le Carnage. Each furry spot on the road radiated a smell that covered a quarter of a mile. My passenger began a campaign of complaint. “Poo smell. Smell poo. Where poo? Yucky poo.” It didn’t help that the mermaid cartoon ended as we were traveling down skunk road. “Tv all done. No more car. I done. No car!”
On one of the rare stretches of road when the speed limit is actually above 45, I peeked over a hill to see a trooper’s car blocking the road in front of me. Everyone morphed from cartoon into real human beings as we pulled over and watched a helicopter land in the road. An ambulance rushed to the chopper. Everyone silently watched. Well, everyone except the one animated weasel from Roger Rabbit. Maybe it was a hyena from The Lion King. That one moron tried to drive in the grassy median to get past the helicopter. Several of us got out of our cars and gave that driver the evil eye, but it took a trucker’s horn beep alerting the nearby troopers to get the reckless driver to stop and wait for the emergency scene to get out of the road. As quickly as it landed, the Lifestar helicopter was in the air and on its’ urgent journey and the road was clear for drivers. The rest of the trip was calmer as all the drivers on the road thought about the family of the person in the helicopter. I briefly imagined myself on the gurney in the chopper with a medic holding a giggling Evan. Evan would throw goldfish crackers at my head while yelling, “Go faster.”
By the time I got to LMU I felt drained. I looked forward to the ride home with Tommy beside me doing his running commentary routine. Instead, 18-y-o Tommy hopped in the backseat to watch cartoon rats with his 3-y-o brother. I turned on the radio’s comedy channel to try and stay awake. I snickered at Patton Oswalt the stand-up while the boys laughed at Patton as Remy. I think Patton Oswalt is the only reason I made it home safe and sane.
Tommy: “Why don’t you ever let Sarah or I drive when you’re in the car?”
Me: “Because I am delicately balanced between sanity and insanity. Your father is already insane, so he has nothing to lose. He will teach you to drive.”
Tommy: “Oh, that makes sense.”
If Turkey Creek had been designed to be walkable, they would not have the hordes of spoiled, thug wanna-be teenagers take over the property for drag races late at night. I am a Turkey Creek fan. I love to go there and people watch. I have just never understood why it wasn’t designed more intelligently. People should park their cars and walk everywhere in the complex. The people who approved the strip malls on either side of a highway design deserve to have the late night races all over their landscaped retail world.
I want to say kids will be kids. I want to say live and let live. I just can’t. This bothers me as a parent. The idea of unsupervised drag racing makes my mom alarms flash and ring. I don’t deny that my worry is fueled by the presence of two permit holders in our house. The awareness that all of my children’s peers are also permit holders has me dreaming of a large empty parking lot converted into an obstacle course for safe learning. My teens and their friends probably dream of joining in the late night races at Turkey Creek. I am acutely aware that we shun teens and deny them places to interact. I just don’t think that nitrous cars are a good way to socialize and impress. Turkey Creek needs to tear up that drag strip and replace it with a row of small shops and SIDEWALKS.
My parents insist that I was a wonderful baby, but I know they are lying or suffering that special amnesia that makes the past look beautiful. Anytime I needed to sleep, they took me for a ride in the car until I fell asleep. It must have happened a LOT. Many decades later, I get in a moving vehicle and immediately start to nod off. When you combine my genetic “no sense of direction” disorder with my cars are for sleeping training, you get a bad, bad driver. Tomorrow morning, Doug is going to get a haircut and manicure from a beautiful, scantily clad girl. I am going to drive two hours north into unfamiliar territory. When I call Doug, hysterical that I am hopelessly lost, he will be too distracted to put together a coherent sentence. No. I won’t be calling Doug. There probably won’t be a phone signal on the TN/KY border. When I finally arrive at my destination, Tommy will disappear for several hours of normal 17-year-old activities. I will
take photographs go shopping sleep in the van or look for an unattended computer. You would think the trip home would be an easy reversal of the trip there, but to the directionally impaired, it’s all just one long, unfamiliar maze. “I think I’m supposed to turn here.”
Doug loves the Interstate. He will hop on and back off the Interstate just to travel from one exit to the next one. I hate the Interstate. I am directionally impaired. The less complicated the route, the greater the likelihood that I will not get lost, but the Interstate still makes me feel like I can’t breathe. Today I had to take Sarah to a SibShop at TSD. I love the cottages on the TSD campus. Cottage is a bad description for the spacious, multi-bedroomed houses. Doug and I would happily work on campus if we could live in one of those perfect for big family buildings. Oops. I was talking about the Interstate. On the way to TSD, I had an 18 wheeler right in front of me. Too close in front of me. I couldn’t slow down though. There was another big rig behind me. I couldn’t change lanes or get off the Interstate because, you already know why – there was a semi to the right and the left of my tiny little minivan. Doug thinks it’s fun to travel like that. “We’re getting great gas mileage.” Not me. I am riding in the blind spot of Optimus Prime and I want to get out of his way. I think I’ll pick Sarah up via the long, winding back roads. More space to breathe back there.