Driving is such a pain in the bum if you ask me.
So much responsibility. I can't look at my surroundings because I'm afraid I'll ram another car or run over somebody.
I don't like to drive in the rain, during winter, in traffic, on highways or in the dark.
So the five minutes I actually drive a year is a pain in the bum.
I actually considered letting my licence lapse so that I wouldn't have to drive ever again but I know that isn't a realistic idea.
Anyway, all that to tell you why I shouldn't be allowed to drive after dark.
A couple of weeks ago I drove past City Hall and the park next to it and was blown away by all the Christmas lights. It was absolutely breathtaking. I immediately thought of how Julie would love them, and we were long overdue for some one-on-one girl time. I mentioned them to her and she said she'd love to see them.
Two weeks passed. There was always something going on or it was too late to go downtown to see them. Finally, I promised her that we would go after dinner on Sunday.
I woke up not feeling that great as we've all been fighting colds. I pushed on because moms just can't get sick, right? After dinner I felt tired, but she looked so hopeful and excited that I just couldn't brush her off again. So, we headed off just after 8pm.
We were in the middle of a great conversation as we drove along oohing and ahhing over the lights on the main street. I turned to drive along the street behind City Hall looking for a place to park with a parking meter. I didn't want to use the underground parking because I just didn't feel as though it was safe.
I live in a city where you can go from middle class homes on one block, and the next is full of rooming houses, with prostitutes and drug dealers walking around. I wanted a place that was well lit for us to park.
There weren't any open spots, so we drove around the corner and down a side street. There were all sorts of No Parking signs, so I continued along to an apartment building. No empty spaces.
There was very little lighting and it was in a creepier part of the neighbourhood. The end of the parking lot curved to the right into an alley. I assumed it would circle around the building and come back out at the front.
I was wrong.
Just as we reached the end of the alley the front end of my van dropped down and we heard this awful crunching sound. We both screamed. It took a few minutes to register what had happened.
Julie and I just looked at each other.
At this point, may have said a swear word that started with s.
A few times.
Getting out of the van was hard because the alley was so narrow. Straight ahead of us was a parkette behind the building.
A parkette I didn't see at all.
Why didn't I see it??
And there hung the front end of my van, about three feet off the ground.
Oh Ian was going to kill me. I just knew it.
We walked back down the dark alley, clinging to each other. Julie was really afraid, and frankly I wasn't feeling so brave either. We walked around a bit and discovered that if we continued to drive the van off the ledge, we could drive around the parkette and come out of a different part of the parking lot and then be on our way.
But I didn't know what kind of damage it would do to the under part of the van to do that.
I called Ian and told him what happened. He immediately called my mother who hurried over to stay with the children so Ian could come and find us.
There were apartments across the parkette and I was pretty sure I didn't want to go there to ask for help. The downtown part of my city is pretty, but not the safest.
Julie was really, really scared so we held hands and prayed together. Then I did what any sensible social media addict would do.
I tweeted for prayer!
I told her that some day we would laugh about this and that I was going to start laughing now. (Because I knew there would be no laughing when Ian saw with his own eyes what I did)
About ten minutes after my 911 call to Ian, I saw him walking down the alley and relief just filled my body. I immediately felt safer and knew he'd get us out of this jam. To his credit, he didn't yell at me!
He assessed the situation and then we decided to risk driving it down, except the van wouldn't move at all at this point. Turns out we have front wheel drive. I never knew what front/rear/all wheel drive meant and didn't care. Well now I know. So, we couldn't go forward or reverse. We were stuck.
Ian asked this one guy if he could help us, but he said no. I don't blame him. If some dude asked me to go with him to a dark alley to "help with his car" I'd be out of there in seconds!
After trying to collect enough stuff to shove under the front tires to get some sort of leverage, I remembered that I had a CAA membership.
I wish I remembered that before I called Ian because we could have just avoided that call altogether!
Ian called them and told me to take Julie home, but she wasn't having any of it. Frankly, I wasn't fond of leaving him there alone either. CAA came in record time and used some sort of lift to raise the front of the van so Ian could reverse out.
As we were driving home I half heartedly pointed out the beautiful Christmas lights to Julie. She just gave me a look and we both burst out laughing.
The van seems to be ok and I am so grateful for that. We just don't understand why I couldn't see what was coming. I have very poor depth perception in the dark and that was certainly a factor.
I went to bed feeling like such a crappy mom. Instead of being calm I freaked out. I was outwardly calm, but Julie is a smart girl. She knew I was scared too. And I was. I didn't know if the wrong kind of person would come along or what. I should have just gone to the underground parking lot and be done with it.
And that, my friends, is why I shouldn't be allowed to drive in the dark.