Friday, March 12, 2010

A Funny Thing Happened ..

A funny thing happened on my way home last night.

I was wrapping up another 10-hour day.

After work, I had made a shopping trip to the grocery store, already worn out from a full day of programming on The Job, and perhaps not as situationally aware as I should have been.

When I got to Chez SWMBO, I saw that the Guest Parking Spot was already occupied by SWMBO's neighbor, who had bought ANOTHER car (his 3rd, as nearly as I could tell.)

It was "Trash Day"; I had to move the trash can from the curbside back to the patio, and I was reluctant to park in my alternative behind-her-car location just in front of the carport, because I would have had to drag the trash can around my car to the patio entrance.

So I stopped a bit short of the patio gate, racked the steering-column mounted gear selector to "PARK", opened the door and bailed out to move the trash can to it's normal place on the patio.

Suddenly I had a vertigo moment; it seemed as if the world was moving and I was standing still.

But that was wrong. I was standing in one place. The car was moving.

And I was not 'standing'. I had been swept off my feet. I was hanging onto the door, one hand on the front seat, trying desperately not to lose my grip on the moving platform.

I immediately perceived that I had NOT move the shift lever to "PARK". Instead, I had not moved it past REVERSE.

The truck (a Ford Explorer ... "Big Ol' Truck!") was slowly rolling backwards, sweeping (dragging!) my body backwards by the open car door. I was shuffling my feet to keep up with the moving truck; but this was obviously a temporary expedient which I could not maintain for more than another few seconds until I lost my balance and fell under the front wheel.

A moment of panic; a moment of realization; and another moment of realization that if I lost my tentative grip on the door the truck would drop me on the ground and the front wheel would roll over various non-expendable portions of my anatomy.

In an uncharacteristic instant of clarity, I realized that my only option was to stop the movement of the truck.

Unable to reach the brake (or perhaps it didn't occur to me to push the brake pedal with my hand), I threw my right hand up and over the steering wheel, fortunately grabbing the gear-shift lever and bumping it UP to the "PARK" position.

The transmission ground for a second, and then kicked up into PARK.

Giving a profound sigh of relief, I regained my feet and stood on wobbly legs.

Then I went back to "normal" mode. Closed the door, moved the trash can back to the patio, and painfully (I had scraped my knee somehow) moved the truck forward to finally park behind SWMBO's car, which was under the carport.


When I went inside, I recounted my brush with death (or maiming) to SWMBO, who was properly horrified.

She has since moved her car to the GUEST parking sport, leaving the carport available to me.

Sure it's only reasonable. She rarely is able to drive, and I park in her apartment lot six nights a week.

But I am disappointed that my lack of Situational Awareness had caused her to inconvenience herself in the rare moments when she has need to drive her car.

On the other hand, I'm incredibly thankful that I don't have to search for a parking spot at Chez SWMBO any more.

It's not just a convenience; for a worn out old Geek, it is an acknowledgment that I'm getting too old for this sh*t.

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