Thursday, December 19, 2013

How NOT to drive.

I have tried to be so good with the kids lately.  Teaching them everything about traffic safety and how to drive carefully.  Trying to be a good role model as a driver.  I want them to be good drivers.  But yesterday I gave my son a thorough lesson in how not to drive.

I had two tickets to San Francisco ballet's Nutcracker.  I've had these tickets for months and I had the date in my calendar.  For some reason I didn't bother to write down the time, so imagine my surprise when I pulled the tickets out yesterday morning and saw that they were matinee tickets.  Curtain time 2:00.

This shouldn't be a problem.  The kids were done with finals at 12:20 that day.  If they got right to the car and we whizzed home, they could grab what they needed and I could drop the girls and be on the road by 12:30 with Jungle Boy.  Plenty of time to make it to San Francisco Opera House.  I texted each of the kids and pleaded with them to go straight to the car after school.  I got out a change of clothes for Jungle Boy.  I changed and made it to the pickup spot in plenty of time.

Drama Girl rushed over.  Then she was on the phone with her friend.  "Mom, I'm going to hang out with L.  She'll drop me by the house later so I can pick up my ballet stuff.  Have fun at Nutcracker!"
Great.  No problem.  One kid taken care of for the day.

Jungle Boy arrived and then, after waiting for what seemed like forever, Wasabi Girl showed up.  She hadn't read the text and had spent the usual amount of time socializing.  I checked my watch.  12:40.  It's a 40 minute drive to the Opera House.  We could still make it.

Then I couldn't get out of the parking lot.  I just needed to back out and get in the line.  Nobody would let me in.  Car after car after car.  I finally gunned my engine backed out and forced the car behind me to stop.  "um, don't ever do that kids."  Too late for regrets, I needed to go.  People are so rude.

Whizzed up the hill to the house.  "Don't drive like this!"  Into the house.  I asked Wasabi Girl if I could drop her at the deli by the gym.  She said yes so I made sandwiches for myself and Jungle Boy to eat in the car.  She came out of her room "oh a sandwich for me?"  Of course I handed it to her.  Jungle Boy had done a quick change and was gnawing on his.  Into the car we went.

Down the hill in the Titanic car.  This car is a big old minivan that requires half a football field to make a u-turn.  I've been lobbying my husband for new wheels and as part of my campaign I've covered the steering wheel and drivers seat with pink shag covers.  He does get embarrassed when he drives it but we still haven't worked out a time frame for getting a new one.  These facts will be important later in the story.

Pulled over next to the gym to drop Wasabi Girl.  Jungle Boy got a call on his phone.  It was Drama Girl.  "Put me on speaker phone!  Mom?  Mom I don't have my key and I'm locked out of the house.  I need my ballet stuff."  "What?  okay honey, I'll be right there to let you in."  Kids come first.  I panicked as I looked at the clock: 12:54.  We could still do this but it might be close.  I was still talking to Drama Girl when I noticed I was dodging a bunch of construction trucks right and left.  Construction workers were making faces at me.  Jungle Boy filled me in - "mom, you're driving through a construction zone!  I think this street is closed!"  Whoops.

Glided through the pylons and back up the hill.  Let Drama Girl in.  Back down the hill.  It was now 1:14.  "How long does your phone say it will take us to get to the Opera House?"  "39 minutes."  Okay, I'm thinking, we're probably going to be late but there is a remote chance.  Time to hit the highway.

Made it to the Opera House at 1:54.  I know there's a parking garage on the block behind it, next to the ballet school.  I dodge traffic and construction and there was the sign...LOT FULL. 

It was one of those moments.  I did one of those slow motion movie screams "NOOOOOOOOO!"  I seriously considered bagging the whole idea of getting to the ballet.   It was as if it was not meant to be.  But I have tickets and determination.  I know there's an underground lot a few blocks behind us at City Hall.  Of course I'm now in the land of one-way streets all going the wrong way from where I want to go.  Finally at the underground lot I pull up to the window.  The bored attendant points to the ticket dispenser that I have somehow driven right past.  Back up, take ticket.  Don't panic.  Try to find a spot now.

There are dark parking garages and then there is this subterranean pit that my headlights could barely penetrate.  I can't imagine how depressing it must be to be the attendant working down there.  We cruise around.  Obviously there aren't going to be any free spaces on the first level.  I look all over before I found the ramp down.  It's one of those tight corkscrew ramps.  Titanic car and I hate those.  Down we went and began searching the next level.

One space.  Next to a cement post, with the car next to it crowding the free space.  "I can't park here Jungle Boy, I'll never get Titanic car in there."  But then the other half of my brain kicked in and told me to do it anyway.  I have tickets to see the Nutcracker and I want to see the Nutcracker!   About eight swipes later I'm in, with that post about 2 inches from the side of my car.  I will never get this thing out again.

Up the elevator and into the blinding light.  Walk one long city block and the Opera House is in sight.  It's 1:59. 

Between us and the opera house is a sea of hundreds of kids with matching shirts proclaiming they are from some middle school.  Seriously?  Tall Jungle Boy took the lead and cut a path as we weaved through them.

2:01 in the door.  The calm usher scanned our tickets.  "Has it started?" "Yes, but we're still seating people."  I nearly cried with relief.  We had excellent orchestra level seats.  I felt terrible about scooting in front of half a row of people but just so relieved to be there.

The production was fabulous.  The snow scene started well, with beautiful falling snow.  Then I think something went wrong with the snow machine because it became a total blizzard on stage.  You could barely see the first row of dancers, and nothing of the rows behind. Jungle Boy and I both burst out laughing. Of course nobody else was.

After the show, it took me another eight swipes to get the car out of that space without hitting anything.  It was a nightmare.

At this point I was absolutely starving, since I'd given my sandwich to Wasabi Girl earlier.  Back when I was thinking it was going to be an evening performance, my husband had suggested that Jungle Boy and I have a nice dinner. Seemed like a good plan now.

We pulled into a nice restaurant that was valet-parking only.   The valet came up to us "Do you have reservations?  The restaurant is full tonight."  It was 5:00 on a Wednesday.  Give me a break.  Jungle Boy took charge.  "Wait here mom, I'll check inside."  A minute later he was back out, waving me in.  The valet gave me my claim ticket and we had a marvelous dinner.

It was only later that I realized the valet probably just didn't want to drive Titanic Car.  I'm still laughing.

3 people stopped folding laundry to write:

Becca said...

Sounds like a crazy but fun day. Glad you made it to The Nutcracker :)

Laura said...

Well at least you had an adventure? I just moved to SF and getting to the SF Ballet Company is on my list of things to do!

Rosemary said...

What a day!! I hope you and your wonderful family have a very happy Christmas.

Cleo has arrived safe and sound and has settled in and learned to be part of the Spring Rock menagerie already.

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