In my defense, let me say that the parallel parking rules have been relaxed considerably in the wake of all this snow. And the city has had trouble plowing the streets all winter. So cars were parking farther from the curb than in sunnier weather.
Which is partly why I cut the corner as closely as I did. The other part was,… well, I guess it was pride.
My wife had left that morning before the kids were up and wouldn’t be home until late, late, late. I was flying solo that day.
She texted me in the late afternoon to ask how it was going. It was my Crazy Day. The day of the week where I try to deny that I have become the parent I never said I would be, the parent with the over-scheduled kids. I take my kindergartener, who only goes to school half day, back at 3:00 for an after-school activity. Her older sister used to have one at school then too, but now she’s in a children’s choir and has rehearsal several miles away instead. But I have plenty of time to get her there by 4:00. The hitch is, I have to pick up the younger one at school at 4:00.
Still, it’s doable. I have a secret backstreet route that lets me evade most of the traffic. (Except in the worst of the snow when it was too easy to get stuck on the unplowed streets.)
Some had melted, though, so my timing was working out fine that day, and we got back to the choir rehearsal with plenty of time before it ended at 5:00. So we had time to sit and read a book before we all went home for dinner at 5:00. I had debated whether or not to stop off and eat out on the way or simply make the kids mac-n-cheese, but I figured I could call an audible on that one.
My wife texted me around 4:30 to check in. I proudly told her how great everything was going. I was even finding great street parking.
When we left our great parking space I turned for home. To be safe on the snow-narrowed streets, I turned a little sharply on the corner. Okay, a lot sharply. Too sharply. I heard the bump-bump of my wheels clipping the curb. Not bouncing over, as with other curbs I have cut too closely. Clipping.
I sensed something bad. Not just the noise on impact, but the feel after. I pulled over into a school zone, where the No Parking hours had just ended, and got out. The rear driver side tire was flat. Dang. It was 13º out. I’d have to change the tire. On ice. With two kids in the back seat.
I shook my head, feeling stupid for my “All is well” brag minutes earlier, and went to deliver the news to the kids. That’s when I noticed that the front tire was flat as well.
I tried to keep my cool. I called emergency roadside service. “Due to heavy call volumes…” they promised me a wait of at least ten, but no more than fifteen, minutes. Fourteen minutes later, I was talking to someone. I gave my coordinates, my card number, a full description of the events, my mechanic’s address, etc. Eleven more minutes. The kids had now been in the car for a half hour. And we’d gone a block and a half.
I figured another half hour before a tow. But I was wrong.
Three. Three hours, they told me, I’d have to wait for a tow. With two kids in the car.
Both should be in bed by that time! In fact, one had to be, because it was standardized test week at school.
I would now have to drag them home, shovel some mac-n-cheese into them, toss them in bed, find a sitter, and return to my car.
Oh, and I’d be given only fifteen minutes’ notice to meet the tow truck at my car, and they wouldn’t wait around for me because they were busy (hence the three-hour wait).
But first, get home. It was too cold to walk to the el, so I called a cab. Twenty minutes later, I called another cab. I told them they were in a race with the first cab company. One of them won, finally, after 45 minutes.
Miraculously, I scored a sitter who arrived five minutes after the last kid was in bed and five minutes before the tow truck called. I made it to the car a full block ahead of the tow truck. And the evening ended sort of well-ish, under the circumstances.
But the point is the stupid A-OK text. For once I had thought I’d not give the martyrly “Oh, I’m hanging in there” response when my wife asked how the day was going. I wanted to sound cheery, upbeat, in control. Proud.
Yeah, I’m over that.