Monday, January 14, 2008

The Almost Accident

My husband, son and I are sitting in the car in the parking lot at Dierbergs, the local grocery store. We have just finished packing our groceries into the back of the car and strapping our son into his car seat. My husband backs out, slowly. There is a car idling in the aisle behind us, waiting for our space even though the parking lot is only half full, because the space we have parked in is so close to the entrance of the store.

As my husband continues to back out carefully toward the waiting car, straightening our car to pull out of the aisle, another vehicle, a white van, parked two spaces down from us, very suddenly backs out of its space. My husband taps his horn at the van, irritated. We are already three-quarters of the way out of our space. We started backing out first. The driver of the van should have waited for us to pass. Had the driver even seen us?

The van continues to back up. And back up. And back up some more, straight toward us.

My husband honks again, this time leaning on the horn in earnest. The van still does not stop. It does not slow. It continues backing toward us, inexorably. There is no sign the driver has heard us at all. My three-year-old son, who can see everything clearly from his car seat, starts crying, sobbing “Stop! Stop! Why don’t they stop?”

“They are not going to stop,” I say to my husband. “You’ll have to back up. Back up!” The van is now inches from our bumper. My husband backs up, still honking on the horn. The car waiting for our space is still behind us. My husband can only back up a couple of feet. Whether transfixed by the drama unfolding ahead, stupidly determined to have our parking space, or somehow completely oblivious, the driver behind us will not back out of the aisle to get out of our way. The van continues backing toward us. People walking in the parking lot have heard the constant blare of our car horn and stopped to stare.

I know this won't be a very bad accident. It's the inevitability of it, the trapped feeling I have, my son's terrorized sobbing, that scare me. In frustration, knowing this is totally dangerous, I open the passenger door and lean out of our car, frantically waving my arms, screaming, “STOP NOW! YOU’RE GOING TO HIT US! WE CAN’T BACK UP! STOP!”

Perhaps the driver of the van sees the red flash of the opening door, or my waving arms. Perhaps the driver somehow finally hears and pays attention to the horn that has been honking continuously for the past several seconds. In any event , the van stops, inches from our bumper, pulls forward, and stops again, halfway in the street, halfway in the parking lot aisle.

In my agitation, I have not even thought to read the license plate. All I have managed to register is that it is a disabled plate, legally parked in a disabled parking space. As my husband angrily pulls around the stopped van to turn out of the lot, I catch a glimpse of a gray-haired, elderly driver,* fixing us with a look something between puzzlement and annoyance; then the van is gone.

And the young driver of the car that had been waiting behind us, refusing to move, pulls into our empty parking space.

* My husband and I still can't agree on whether this person was male or female.


P.S. I know that some of my readers are patiently waiting for the political rant I mentioned in my last post. I promise will get to it. It will be very long, and I have been ill the past few days, so I haven't felt up to making my MIND ill. Heh.


Kim said...

Oh how frightening and frustrating! I hate that metallic taste that incidents like that leave. I'm glad you and the family are okay.

JessiTRON said...

Oooh I hate it when people block aisles waiting for a parking spot. Grrrrrr!
I'm glad the van did not hit you.

Anonymous said...

I've been hit twice in such a way, both times I was entirely out of the parking space and about to put the car into drive. Once I was pregnant, once a baby Liam was in the backseat, both times I was pissed.

Dwight's Writing Manifesto said...

Sort of makes you realize "Logan's Run" might not be as draconianly a fascist a concept as you first thought, huh?

"Sir, please step out of the car. I see from your license you are 91, is that correct? Okay, well accordance with the law... this isn't because you're old, it's because you're old and you insist on driving even though you can't hear."


(*Just as long as the cut off age remains two years older than I am... although at forty I admit maybe 35 is, indeed, as old as anybody needs to be.)

KBO said...

Were you at the Dierbergs on Watson? Because I can't even go there with all the old folks unable to maneuver either their vehicles or the damn carts when I just want to buy some Lucky Charms. I almost had a panic attack the other day and will never go there again.

Bea said...

At least you got a riveting post out of it!

Unknown said...

Yikes. I'm glad you all weren't hit. It could have been my grandmother driving....she's so bad we have her get a drivers test every year. Somehow she keeps passing.....

R said...

you guys must be awfully fast talkers and movers. . . how the hell did you do and say all of that in the few seconds this must have all happened?

still waiting on political rant. or are you waiting for the michigan results? democratic debate? or just think i'd forget?

Lisa said...

Once an old guy started backing up as Seth and I were walking passed him. He didn't even check to see if anyone was behind him. I jerked my son's arm really fast. It was good because the man would have hit him.

I was ready to drag his tired old ass out of the car and then run HIM over with it.

So happy the person didn't hit you guys.

Jaelithe said...

Rebecca, most of the time I am a clumsy, easily distracted mortal, but when someone threatens my child, I become a superninja with uncanny reflexes and nerves of steel.

Seriously. Ask the other moms.

Liz said...

Something similar happened to me around Xmas time. Later that day, we were rear-ended. It wasn't bad, but still. Why can't people drive during the holidays?

R said...

J, I bet you're secretly a superninja all the time

alicewonderland said...

It would not surprise me if J were a ninja. I think all momthers have ninja reflex. And that Mackenzie Point Dierberg's is a nest of elderly people, they stream in from that McDonalds. I know my Grandmother is one of them.
And I know the anger of someone else being careless when your child is in the car. I had a young woman run into my car at Nordstrom then jump out of her car and yell at me, and then break down into tears because she was an illegal alien without insurance. My daughter and I were both aghast at her "performance."

alicewonderland said...

I have noticed that multi-tasking increases typos.

Unknown said...

Your example is one of the evidences that van drivers are really 'folk devils'. I still can't imagine how they dare to behave themselves on a road so madly. It seems that man and van are a nightmare on roads. It is true that a van man is now most often viewed as a mobile thug – a dangerous threat to the decent, right-thinking, motoring majority.
Happy that you did not come to harm.