Hello all. Here’s the thing. Apparently I should not be allowed behind the wheel of a car. Ok, that may be a slight exaggeration, but today was just a day that all things automotive were foremost in my mind. I had to make a short road trip today to Norman and Oklahoma City. Little Man had two appointments, one with his ADHD med prescriber and one at a hearing and speech center to see if he has any auditory processing issues that are keeping him from succeeding in school.
So I got on the road probably later than I should have, at about 9:05 a.m. Before I had even made the Arbuckle Mountains, I was worrying about the car. This car is a ’98 Buick LeSabre. It’s old. It’s crotchety. It doesn’t like to have to go fast. It drinks oil like a cowboy drinks beer. And it seems to enjoy throwing tires every couple of trips.
The reason I first started worrying about it was the noise. Now I’m not an auto expert, nor do I know which vehicular maladies cause what noises. But the noise my car was making when I’d try to speed up or pass someone was what I think my dad refers to as ‘dieseling.’ You know, that hideous knocking/gurgling noise that simply sounds as if my poor little car is just straining its guts out!
The second reason I was worried about my car was probably mainly my paranoia because I had a blowout the last time I had to go to Norman. But I thought I felt vibrating. As in, “One or more tires are moments away from shredding like a mozzarella string cheese stick,” vibrating. Maybe it was just the road. Lord knows the road between Ardmore and Norman is not known for its silky smoothness. (As a sidenote- I strongly advise against having your first bedpan experience while riding over this piece of road in the back of an ambulance with a male paramedic watching over you. Did that. Not fun! I’ll tell that story some other time.)
Anyway, some of my friends would probably chide me for my lack of faith and for worrying about the car instead of just believing that the car was in perfect operational order and we’d make it to our destination and back with absolutely no incident to speak of, vehicle-wise. Well, they’d be half-right. I should have been completely faithful that nothing would happen and we’d get home just fine. Which I was, really. I prayed for that very thing, but I also continued to keep a weather eye on my gauges and listen obsessively to my engine the entire journey.
But THEN. We got to our second appointment of the day, at the John Keys Hearing and Speech center. I had a wonderful little map they sent me with the preliminary paperwork, and I found my way there with no difficulty. The problem came with the parking. I turned where the map indicated and couldn’t tell where I was supposed to go! I didn’t see the entrance to the parking garage! All I saw was this long ramp. Actually two ramps, and alongside one of them, a sign that said ‘Do Not Enter.’ I thought, ‘Ok, can’t go on that one.’ And I took the other ramp up to the 4th level of the parking garage and parked.
Well after Four and a Half HOURS of waiting for Adam to be finished with his testing, we were finally done. The lady at the front desk wanted to know if I wanted a little card-thingy to validate my parking, and I said “I don’t know- I never saw anybody when I parked.” So they gave me the little card thingy just in case, and Little Man and I walked across to the parking garage and joined a crowd of nurses walking to the elevator. When we were almost to level 4 and the only nurse left on the elevator was looking at us funny, I said something about not knowing if I could find my car and thinking I might have gone the wrong way up the ramp, and she says, “Yeah, I was wondering how you got up on 4.” Sure enough, when we FINALLY found the car, there on my window was a little envelope with a little ticket in it for unauthorized parking. Twenty-five stinkin’ dollars, because I didn’t have a little permit thing hanging from my mirror. (Of course the big clue to my unauthorized presence was probably when I went the wrong flippin’ way up the ramp!!)
Boy, did I feel like a complete schmuck. Aggravated, embarrassed, frustrated, and oh yeah, EMBARRASSED, I drove out of the garage and joined the herd of cars heading toward Lincoln Blvd. right into 5:00 rush hour traffic! I wasn’t terribly panicked, but I just thought it was a great cap to the day. I hadn’t really associated a 4-hour testing block beginning at 1:00 with ending up in rush hour traffic. Don’t ask me why. It just hadn’t occurred to me that that’s when we’d get finished!
Anyway, I maneuvered and navigated and we got where we were going. Made a mental note to myself that the far right lane when you get over the lake thingy with the rowboats on it is ‘Exit Only.’ We had to stop at Toys R Us in Norman because I had made a pinky swear with Little Man that I’d take him. I made this solemn ceremonial vow while sitting in the Olive Garden restaurant, eating the stuffed mushrooms and the grilled vegetables that I hold fully responsible for my stomach cramps and repeated bathroom breaks the rest of the day.
Then I worried my parents by complaining that my engine sounded as if it were about to blow up and the vibration I was feeling probably meant that all four tires were going to fly off simultaneously at any minute, but that it was probably just paranoia again. Well, they didn’t, and we made it home just fine. Unfortunately, I have to do it all again next week for Round 2 of the testing, and I’m thinking I’d like to ask for volunteers to accompany me, so I don’t do anything stupid like drive the wrong direction down Northwest Expressway or something!
Anyone interested? You’ll earn your ‘Saved a Schmuck from Stupidity’ badge. Thanks.
Until next time,