Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Perpetuating a stereotype (a.k.a. "Damn woman drivers!")

There are a number of things that have happened to me lately, any of which on its own would make any person shake their head and go, "WOW. REALLY?", that I want to tell you about here, but not so that you sit back and think, "Oh my God that's horrible!" but rather so that you laugh and say to yourself, "Oh my God what are the ODDS?!? Ha ha!" If you're my friend on Facebook you know about them already, but for those of you who are not (or who have other things to do with your lives other than read up on what I'm doing online), here goes.

I was recently in a car accident.

Actually, make that two.

In the span of seven days.


The first happened at 3 p.m. on a Friday. I'd already made special arrangements that week to leave the office early every day so as to pick up my kids when school let out. My ex was on vacation and the only other alternative to this (amazingly appreciated) arrangement was to put them in before and after school day care, making their total time at school 6:45 a.m. until 5:30 p.m. I can only imagine the monsters I'd have dealt with if I had to go with that option. Instead, after picking them up at 3 p.m., I would then drive home and work for another two hours or so while they had snacks and did homework and watched cartoons.

This particular Friday was the very last one working with this arrangement. It was also day 10 of 12 in a row with my children. Anyone who's known me for 10 minutes knows my kids are amazingly smart and funny and well behaved, but kids are kids. When there are more of them than there are of you, they will find a way to work that to their advantage. After a very short amount of time, they will find your weakness. After a day or two, they will sense you are wearing thin. After four or five days, they will work the two together like some sort of tiny evil geniuses. By day nine you are ready to feed them chocolate cake for dinner and call in re-enforcements. (Sadly, Grandma was not available that week.) I give mad props to parents who go it alone every single day. There is a special place in heaven for you folks, right next door to Kindergarten teachers and health care workers who donate their services to the poor.

So anyway. Day 10 of 12. I've already spent more than a week running back and forth (45 minutes or more each way) to the office, making sure homework gets done, running kids to their activities and generally trying to keep my sanity by keeping them entertained.

On top of all that, the area around my kids' school is ridiculously planned out. There is exactly ONE WAY into the school and ONE WAY OUT. Here, let me drawn an amazingly realistic recreation for your visual enjoyment and understanding:

Yes, you can hire me for portrait work.
So this particular day I was five whole minutes early. Can I get a woot woot? I decided I'd take advantage of my timeliness by pulling into the driveway you can't use for after school pick-ups and make a Y-turn so that I could park facing away from the school. (Oh, and I should mention, the only way out of that county building parking lot is to pull out onto the street the school is on. And that the streets on either side of the school are so narrow that when cars are parked on either side of the street, like they are at the end of the school day, only one car can travel down them at a time. If there's someone coming from the opposite way you have to take turns.) I knew this turn around would save me 10 or 15 minutes at least when all the school buses and other cars all tried to exit the school area at the same time.

When I turned into the school driveway there were no cars coming from the opposite direction.

When I backed up just moments later, guess what? BAM. There was.

At the end of that dead end on the right is a gated parking lot for the employees of the county building. It is half a block away from the school driveway. Yes, he technically had the right of way, but in an overly crowded school zone, one should not be driving so fast in half a block's distance so as to not see, then hit, a car making a Y turn so hard that one puts a hole in the other's bumper. Ahem. Letters will be written to that very county building about the un-safeness of this whole scenario.

Anyway... No one was hurt. I have insurance (he did not). In the long run, its a damn car, and cars can be fixed. The evening was salvaged with a movie at home with my kids and a hugging/wrestling match. All was good.

Fast forward seven days. I was on the freeway downtown at the beginning of my long trek homeward. I'd already called my ex to let him know I would be late picking up the kids. You see, my car had been at an auto mechanic's for some (completely unrelated) repairs. Instead of my service taking two hours as originally quoted, it was in their greasy mitts for SIX. And before I left I had to make an appointment to bring it back...again to try and figure out something else that was completely unrelated to either the first accident or the reason it was taken in for repairs in the first place. (I'm totally losing confidence in their professional services, but that's for another day.)

Thank god for places like Starbucks and Panera and their free Wi-Fi, or I wouldn't have gotten much work done that day!

So anyway...I was frustrated. Running late. Got on the freeway without stopping to get gas or find a bathroom because I just had to get on my way already. I had figured there would be plenty of time for those things on the way home after getting out of the danged city.

Traffic was a little heavier than normal, and just a few minutes into my commute, we were stopped completely. That's not entirely unheard of in Milwaukee, though our traffic here is not nearly as bad as other, larger cities. If you hit traffic like that in Milwaukee you pretty much know you're in it for just a few minutes and then it'll start moving again.

That's when I heard the first crash.

I quickly looked up in my review mirror. Through the windshield and back windows of the SUV behind me (that was also at a complete stop), I saw the van lurch forward, heard it hit the SUV, then BAM! the SUV hit me.

You. Have. GOT. To. Be. KIDDING ME.

I was the fourth car in the chain and I was hit hard enough that my work bag flew off the seat and its entire contents were dumped out onto the floor. My car sustained relatively minor damage, though you can literally see the outline and the letters of the license plate from that SUV in my back bumper. (Hey - Honda PR people - need a spokesperson for how well your cars perform in collisions? I only half joke...) Once again, I was unhurt, my car was still drivable, and cars can be fixed.

I picked up my kids and the movie I'd promised them, and salvaged the evening by going to bed early, figuring the best thing that could happen that day is that it would end.

But seriously...I think I'm giving up driving on Fridays!


Tara R. said...

Dang! Maybe you should get a Hummer and just tank your way home/work/school. Glad there was not major car damage, and that you're not hurt either.

Liz@thisfullhouse said...

Holy crap, also what Tara said!