Monday, 19 September 2011

Driving Him Crazy

Although I haven't had an accident in over 5 years, historically, my driving record is pretty dismal. Entire families of insurance agents were sending their kids to Ivy League Universities and taking ski vacations in Europe on my premiums alone.

My problem was that for years I worked nights. I got up at 6 a.m. with the kids in the morning, took care of them all day, shuttled them back and forth to school and various other activities, then ran out the door at 5 to work a full 8 hours at work. I am able to juggle a lot of things. I can multitask like you wouldn't believe. I can survive on next to no sleep. But I couldn't do all those things AND drive. Interestingly, since I stopped working nights and started working days, I have only had one accident, and that occurred when Squid was about 8 weeks old. I have a sneaking suspicion that sleep deprivation was probably a factor in that one as well. Just a guess.

It occurs to me that rather than write a 400 page essay about my driving difficulties, I could tell about each accident (or the funny ones, anyway) in a different blog, and scatter them throughout my postings, like little gems of stupidity for people to find and treasure.

Even when I had stopped working at McDonald's, and started working at Starbucks, Ronald and his greasy friends still found ways to screw with me. One night after a late shift at Starbucks (in my world, they were all late), I found myself leaving work with enough time to hit the McDonald's drive through (oh, how prophetic those words seem in hindsight....). I had been craving a McChicken for days.

I hopped into the car- our brand new (to us) Saturn, which we had possessed for exactly 4 months, and off I went. I pulled into the drive through and ordered my McChicken. I thought about getting something for Jason, then figured he'd be asleep when I got home, and besides, when you're a mother and wife, sometimes you just want to be selfish. When was the last time I had done something just for ME?

I grabbed my change from the kid at the window, and pulled forward. As I made my way up, I heard a nasty little crunching sound, and looked up to see that I had scraped my side view mirror off the car with the yellow cement pole put in place in drive throughs to prevent customers from hitting the building. The bloody mirror was dangling from its mount, hanging from a strip of plastic molding the width of my pinkie.

Slightly stunned by this turn of events, I leaned out the window and checked the pole, which, being cement, was unaware it had even been attacked. I pulled up to the next window, where the girl was leaning out, mouth open, bag in hand, watching as this out-of-control customer trashed her drive through. Since my first reaction to anything is to minimize my OWN embarrassment, I smiled sweetly at her, thanked her politely, grabbed my McChicken out of her fingers, and pulled away, side view mirror waving in the breeze. To this day, I deeply appreciate that she waited for the window to close before exploding into hysterical laughter.

All the way home, I thought about it. We had never before owned a car so new and in such good shape. We had actually purchased the thing FROM A DEALERSHIP. Never in our lives had we expected this to happen. And now I had to go home to tell Jason I had hurt it. This was not news to which he was going to react well. I had totaled our last vehicle, caused immeasurable damage to another, and the very first thing he said to me when we got the Saturn was for God's sakes, to be careful.

Maybe I could fix it. It was molded plastic, so it seemed to me that it might be like the arm of a Barbie- you should just be able to pop it back in, shouldn't you? I pulled up in front of the condo, left the headlights off, and inspected the damage by the light of the streetlamp. No dice. Maybe at one point, the thing had been 2 separate pieces that snapped together, but if you blew Barbie's arm off with a rocket launcher, you weren't going to be able to stuff the shredded remains back into the socket either. Same concept here.

I stealthily pulled out my cellphone and dialed my best friend Jamie's number. Shawn is a licensed heavy-duty mechanic, and if any repair looked heavy-duty, this was it (Yes, I realize that this is not what is meant by 'heavy-duty'. Work with me, here.)

"Hello?" she said, wondering what idiot was calling her house at midnight on a weekday.

"Hey," I responded in a whisper, lest Jason hear my voice, "is Shawn there?"

"Uh, yeah...." (considering that they were probably in bed sleeping at this point in the evening, it may have been a dumb question)

"Ask him how to put the side view mirror back on a car. Is this something I can do myself?"

I heard a whispered conversation, a grunt, a chuckle, and then she came back on the line. "No, Heather. You can't do it yourself. You're going to have to tell him."

"Thanks for nothing!" I whisper-shrieked, "It's good to know you guys value my LIFE!!!!"

I hung up the phone and rooted around in the glove box till I found a roll of electrical tape. It would have to do. At least it was black- maybe it wouldn't show.

15 minutes later, I stepped back and admired my handiwork. Although the electrical tape DID blend awfully well with the black of the plastic housing, the only way to keep the mirror on was to wrap miles of tape around the the actual frame of the window. The mirror would stay on, but the window couldn't close all the way. This might have flown in the summer, but not in
-30 degree weather. I was hooped.

I parked the car and dragged myself into the house. Jason was awake on the couch, and as he looked up and saw my face, he knew it could only mean one thing. His smile fell, his shoulders slumped, and the sparkle went out of his eyes.

"Want my McChicken?" I asked.

It was the least I could do.

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