Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Whose car is it anyway?

I'm descending the narrow and steep passage we like to call our staircase while hugging a mountain of dirty laundry, when, suddenly, as I shift my grip, a pair of underwear seems to slide in from somewhere inside the belly of the gargantuan beast in my bear-hug, and almost succeeds in sending me into a universe of delirium-inducing smells no one should ever visit, and nearly blocks my vision. I stumble, crouch ever so slightly in a fierce battle to regain my balance, manage to steady myself by leaning my forehead and a pair of jeans onto the wall at my right, and ultimately make it down the stairs in one piece. Shaken by what the paramedics would have found had I fallen, and smelling like laundry forgotten in the never-used hamper in June, but otherwise in good condition.

However, my near death by laundry has given me a novel idea.

I go over the possible discussion in my head.

"I'm in the emergency room. Nothing serious though. Just fell down the stairs and sprained my ankle," I would say all nonchalantly.

"Oh no! Glad you're alright! Don't you worry about class, I'll have the secretary email you your homework," my teacher would say with a note of worry in her voice.

And I would make a mental note to limp next time I saw her.

But then I remember how much I enjoy going to class once I'm actually there, and I harden myself for what is to come. I have, after all, donned my hobo-chic wear, in my mind suited for a photographer, I have dug out the almost dried mascara and applied it (mixed with plenty of water) with rigor, and even smeared some foundation on my face to cover the raccoon-ish, golf-induced sunburn on my face. I'm ready.

I can do this.

I grab my purse, my camera bag, my sunglasses, my house keys, and then I see it. It is the only thing left in my pile of things I'll need to remember to not leave the house without. A key that doesn't even seem to fit in my palm comfortably. A key almost as big as the engine that it was designed to start. But I extend my hand one last time as I hear the garage door slowly rattle up and I grab the key.

"You can't drive back in the dark in the Daihatsu, honey. That's suicide," had the Hubby said to me in a grave tone of voice, making the name Daihatsu sound like a swear word.

I aim the key towards the green monster parked in the garage near where my own little silvery shoe box normally stands, and push one of the buttons on the key, but get no response. I try another, but nothing happens. In dismay, I turn over the key in my hands, but find no other buttons, nor any other markings indicating how to unlock the vehicle. As a final attempt, before dialing the Hubby in Malawi, I try the door handle, and to my surprise, in one fluid movement, pull the door open.

I adjust the seat, the mirrors, and briefly wonder how to turn the radio off, or even just lower the volume, while knowing I'm increasingly pressed for time. The rush hour is slowly closing in on my departure.

I try sliding the gearstick to reverse, but when I try the gas, the engine just roars at me. I slam the gearstick back with my hand, and the car miraculously moves.

I narrowly miss the side of the opening as the left side of the car rises up on the curbing and probably crushes a fair portion of the flower bed immediately beyond the curbing. But crushed flowers are the last thing on my mind. In the rearview mirror, as I turn the wheel to avoid backing the entire car into the flower bed dividing our and the neighbor's driveways, I glimpse the quickly approaching garden wall. This car must be double or triple the size of my own.

I hit the break, and hear a soft thump.

Blood escapes my face, but I check myself quickly. I reason that metal simply doesn't make thump-like sounds, and put the car in first gear. I need to be on my way. I shouldn't be late. Not this time.

I drive to the first gate, and then I realize what I've forgotten. I stop the car, and quickly jump out and run back to our driveway with my house keys and push the button that closes the garage door. With the rattle of the door sending me on my way, I make it back to the car and start it again.

I make it through the first set of gates, and slowly roll my way downhill towards the next set. The tough set. The set with complicated dividers, narrow lanes, booms with stop-signs, and the need to get the car close enough to the fingerprint machine to be able to reach it from the car window, yet not close enough to take the machine out with the side mirror.

I turn the wheels towards the lane marked 'Residents'.

I hit the curb slightly, but not enough to make the car rise onto it. I glance to my side at the workmen waiting to leave the compound, and see them all turning to stare at me. One of them smiles. Or is that a smirk on his face?

I check my rearview mirror. There's no one behind me. Once again, I slam the car in reverse, and carefully maneuver myself and the vehicle away from the direct course with the divider. I attempt entry again, and succeed, albeit with so much space between me and the fingerprint scanner that I need to open the door ever so slightly to reach it.

While I'm waiting for my fingerprint to be recognized as my own and to be let out of the complex, I hear a voice call out to me.

"I drive my father's car," it seems to be saying.

I turn my gaze away from the words that read VERI-FYING PLEASE WAIT, and I'm met with a broad white smile from the car-free visitors lane. It's a guard smiling and waving at me.

"I'm sorry?" I say as I nod to him politely.

"I AM DRIVING MY FATHER'S CAR?" he articulates and his smile broadens.

I stare at him unsure what to say, until, from the corner of my eye, I see the boom lift.

"Actually. I'm driving my husband's car," I yell at him, and make him laugh out loud. I can see him double up with laughter as I make it to the other side of the dividers.

Note to self: No Danish Christmas cookies for the guards this year.  

My thoughts exactly.


Michael said...

Oh, you should totally have taken the daihatsu. My first car was (the tiny) Daihatsu Charade. I swear the smallness of my car was the only thing that prevented me 'touch parking' on many an occasion. The whole manual locking system kind of stymied me though. It's hard to drive a car when your keys are locked inside it. ~ omchelsea, too lazy to sign her husband out of his google account....

Bill Kirton said...

A pity in a way that you only took us as far as the gate. That leaves us to imagine what happened when other cars, pedestrians, cycles, traffic lights, one-way streets and all those other motoring delights were part of the mix. (And I think you should hand out even bigger Danish cookies - just to make him feel bad.)

Myne Whitman said...

So how did you get to your destination? LOL, great narrative style as always

JoeinVegas said...

What's wrong with the Dia in the dark, lights don't work or something? Take it, better than hitting things.

Sara said...

Haha! That's funny. :)
I drive a large truck and I always take a parking spot in the boonies so that I don't have to try and park in between two cars. I suck at that and , though I haven't done it yet, I'm sure to give one of them a tap one of these days.

Oh, and laundry sucks. Weren't hampers invented to be helpful? Because I find that they make slightly damp towels smell like something died in there very very quickly.

omchelsea said...