Driving Miss Crazy

I ended up behind a Student Driver today. Poor kid was going about 15 miles an hour, with even the exhaust spewing the stench of sweat, PowerAde and terror.

It reminded me of my own early driving days, and a particular trip where I returned home, not entirely sure I’d ever be allowed IN Canada again.

See, I’d learned to drive during my senior year of high school, taught by my mother. Now, I do believe Mom had my best interest at heart. But what a shy, nervous, overachieving nerd-girl like myself needed was a guiding hand… a calm voice… a vote of confidence.

And Mom’s guiding hands were mostly busy clinging to the door-handle while her voice shrieked, “Do you SEE THAT STOP SIGN?! STOP! STOP!!! For the love of Mike, STAAAAHHHHHP!!!!”

This usually started about halfway down the driveway.

So I went off to college with a license, but with very little real driving experience…

Also, a small eye twitch, when I’d hear someone say the word “stop.”

And when I graduated college, I got a job, as luck would have it, not far from my apartment. REALLY not far from my apartment. Like, I could see the office building, if I stood in my bathtub on tiptoes and peered out the window.

I was at that job about four years before the company moved locations and I suddenly had to have a car. So I took some driving lessons from AAA as a refresher, and was surprised to learn their teaching techniques varied quite a bit from my mother’s own unique style.

I’d only had my car about a week, when my supervisor decided that, great! Since I was going to this tradeshow to set up the corporate booth-- and since shipping a booth meant you could never be sure the booth wouldn’t accidentally be sent to Zimbabwe--I could just drive the booth to the show.

DRIVE the booth…

In a several ton moving vehicle…

An SUV, specifically…

Five hours north…

To Toronto.

You know: the one in Canada... A whole other country.

I said, “Okay, I’ll do it,” hoping he didn’t notice my eye starting to twitch. And I learned I’d be driving with a coworker, to help with the booth cases.

It concerned me somewhat that the coworker had children to support.

Or as I was thinking of them at the time, “the bereaved orphans.”

Well, my coworker ended up driving about half of the way before we stopped for gas, and she suggested I take the wheel the rest of the way into Toronto.

And once again, I didn’t want to admit the idea of driving this large, unfamiliar automobile on a road where there were, like, OTHER LIFEFORMS was somewhat of a concern to me considering my skill level.

So I got behind the wheel. Things were actually going very well on our way into Toronto. We joked, we listened to the radio, and two and a half hours went by with me not killing so much as a moth in the grill.

I was feeling good.

Then came the hotel parking garage. Or as I shall call it, my Waterloo.

Yes, my coworker had agreed to have the booth cases taken into the exposition hall, while I parked the SUV. And such was my relief over having made it into Toronto so smoothly—not so much as missing an exit—that I was already thinking happy thoughts of dinner.

Little did I know that the parking garage required you to take a ticket first. So I pulled in, and realized I was a bit too far away to reach the ticket. I opened my door and stepped a leg out of the car, to grab it and…

My foot slipped off the brake.

Did I mention that it was an underground parking garage, where there was a bit of a, well, SLOPE DOWN?

Oh, there was.

And so, the car began to roll forward, me half-in, half-out of the car. And there I was, being dragged alongside this SUV in the middle of a parking garage in the Great White North, while my coworker was waiting for me, having a glass of wine in the plush hotel lounge.

Just after I drove through the wooden arm barrier, I managed to get the vehicle to come to a stop-- my leg bleeding, one shoe lost, the driver’s side mirror bashed, and the wooden arm in splinters on the ground.

The next twenty minutes involved me tearfully explaining to some parking authority officers-- who my mind over the years has recorded as Mounted Police-- what exactly had happened that caused damage to the City of Toronto’s property.

Not knowing the local laws, I recall wondering if you could be ejected from Canada for this sort of thing.

Well, the Mounties were actually really nice to me. Probably because I was bleeding on their concrete and I only had one shoe. So they wrote up the accident and didn’t put me in the pokey over the cost of the arm or anything.

After locating my errant footwear, I headed up to the lounge. My coworker eyed me and said, “What took you so long?” I was limping a little and still bleeding, with eyeliner and mascara streaked into circles under my eyes.

I sat down and ordered a Molson, eye twitching. "The drivers around here are crazy ."

Breaking through the barriers at Humor-blogs, one clickthru at a time. :)


SSB said...

Everyone has there story here's mine. I have been driving most of my life. To prove this point I stole my moms Pinto picked my brother up from kindergarden and I'm 5 years older than he. That makes me 9 years old. My mom was in school for nursing and she was tired she was sleeping I just took the car and picked my brother up. By the time I was 16 I was pretty cocky. I drove like a maniac. I would drive 75mph in a 25mph speed zone. I learned my lesson when the car popped a whellie on thdriver side tires. We needed shocks, struts, and a new axle after that point. On the same day heading home my brakes went out while on a hill. Thank God I'm fairly good at controling the car once I got down the hill I was doing 80 and I started a 5mph. I tottaly killed the car.

Jenn Thorson said...

Nine! Ack! Shirley, I'm glad you're still alive! What happened when your mother found out? (She did find out, right?) Wow, what a story.

timethief said...

My story goes like this. I was in the driver's seat with my driving instructor sitting in the passenger's seat when I rolled through a stop sign at an empty neignbourhood intersection. I over-reacted by jumping on the brakes so hard that I got a goose egg on my forehead from impacting the steering wheel and the instructor got a goose egg on her forehead from impacting the dashboard.

The worst part of it was that we both had a wedding to go to and we both wanted to look our best. Did I mention that the driving instructor was the woman, who would become my mother-in-law the very next day?

Greg said...

OMG, Jenn, what a tale!! You are really in your element with this comedy stuff...I just about die laughing each day when I stop into Cabbages...

I gotta say, tho, that story about the driving instructor who's also ur future mother-in-law sounds like a doozy, too. I wonder if you could get the timethief to do a guest blogger spot someday!

Jenn Thorson said...

Aw, TimeThief, now you've got me wondering how those wedding photos turned out-- two of you with big goose-eggs on your foreheads! Ah, making memories... :) Hysterical, thanks for sharing.

Greg- I actually can't believe I never shared the "Jenn wrecks the SUV on a business trip story" before. I was well-traumatized for a while after that every time I'd go into a parking garage. :)

SSB said...

My mom found out she wasn't real angry because she knew I was a good driver. More concerned over if there were police in the area.

Burgh Baby's Mom said...

Um, so what kind of car do you drive these days? I want to make sure I'm not in front of you at any parking garages!

Thanks for stopping by my place and that's great that the instructions were helpful!

DeadRooster said...

Wow! If I announced myself to Canada like that, I think I would need something with a little more firepower than a Molson.

Great story!

Jenn Thorson said...

Burgh's Baby- Oh, I haven't had a car accident in ages... As you know, we can't really get up to speed for that sort of thing here in Pittsburgh, given all the road construction. :) It's just better if I don't leave my house.

Deadrooster-- heh, okay, well TWO Molsons... Hey, it was Canada, not New Orleans. )

bob said...

great story, great blog, and long live jean shepherd!

Jenn Thorson said...

Bob- thanks a bunch-- given your facility with the written word, that's quite a compliment.

And long live Jean Shepherd, indeed! Huzzah!!