I went to my orthodontist today to get my braces off (YIPPEE), and pulled into the parking garage behind an SUV with a Thule on it (pronounced tool-ee and it’s a long storage gizmo that tapers down in the front and sits on top of the rack on your car in case you don’t live in SUV-ville). The car started under the height clearance sign, you know the one hanging from chains to let you know if your car is low enough to make it through the garage without scraping, and the Thule banged right into the sign – not just touched it but pulled it along for a ways.
I said to myself, I said, “Hmmm, surely that car isn’t going to head up the ramp.” But I was wrong, because it kept going and did fine until the ramp hit the next floor and leveled off. The Thule scraped the concrete ceiling. Still the driver forged on. The ceiling was lower about every six feet, and the Thule hit the next low spot. This time I could see it being pressed down into the roof of the car. The car kept going, but more slowly, and I could actually hear it scraping on the next low ceiling spot. A boy about ten years old sprang out of the car as it inched forward. Finally his mom pulled the car into a parking spot that was in the middle of nowhere – about as far away from shopping and the dental offices as you could get. I passed her and she had a strange look on her face – like she didn’t think there was anything amiss about what was happening.
It was mighty entertaining watching her scraping and pressing on. I thought about it to whole time I was in the orthodontist office (did I mention I got my braces off today?), and here’s what I think was going on. Her husband put the Thule on the car and went hunting. When he came home he didn’t bother taking it off because he was too hung over. I know he was hung over because I used to live in a rural place and rode horses throughout the year except during hunting season because drunken hunters would shoot the horse right out from under you, thinking it was a deer or rabbit or squirrel. I think the wife was spited because her husband was hung over and didn’t take the Thule off the car, and when it knocked into the sign, she just kept going anyway.
Her son, meantime, was freaking out. “Mom, you didn’t clear that sign, stop the car.” To which she said, leaning into the steering wheel, “Those signs don’t mean anything, it will be fine. Besides, we’re running late.”
That was enough to quiet the kid, though he was gripping the door handle with white knuckles, bracing for the impact. She kept going up the ramp, thinking to herself, “I hope we do hit the roof. That’ll show him.”
They were doing fine until the ramp leveled off at the next floor. The Thule scraped the ceiling, and the son started screaming, “Mom, oh my gosh you hit the garage ceiling.” To which she said, “It was just a little scrape. It will be fine.”
When it scraped even harder the second time, the kid screeched at the top of his lungs, “Mom, you’re going to pull Dad’s Thule right off the car. You need to stop.” To which she replied, “A little scrape isn’t going to hurt the Thule. Besides, we’re almost there, it’ll be fine. To herself she was thinking, “I hope it rips right off the roof and takes the rack with it. He’ll think twice about coming home hung over next time.”
When it hit again, the kid sprang out of the car and told his mom he would not get back in unless she parked. Which she finally did, and then I drove past and she gave me that odd look.
I couldn’t stick around to see how the story ended. Did the son get back in the car? Did she rip the Thule off on the way back down the ramp? Did she decide to divorce the worthless bum and take him for all he was worth?
Or was she just the most incredibly naïve woman in the world who thought the garage would accommodate her if she just gave it a chance.
We’ll never know for sure. But one thing we do know: I got my braces off today. YIPPEE!!!