Amid the rain, agitation and destruction reigned

The Baltimore Sun

I think it was the fault of the woman who parked in the pick-up lane at the grocery store. At least, I'm blaming her.

Even in the best weather, it's annoying when people park their vehicles in the grocery pick-up lane. I'm not opposed to dropping someone off at the door -- but then you should move on and park, pulling in to the pick-up lane when your designated shopper comes out.

It's one of the unwritten rules of suburban life -- no standing in the grocery pick-up lane. Also, no mowing your lawn before 8 a.m. on the weekends. No walking your dog without scooping. And no barbecuing Memphis-style ribs when the Gilberts are having Cocoa Puffs for dinner.

But last weekend, when we were experiencing intermittent downpours, I experienced a flagrant violation of Suburban Rule Number One. Nonetheless, I hoped for the best, wheeling my groceries to the edge of the pick-up lane where this car was parked, figuring she'd probably roll forward a few feet when I pulled my car up. Especially considering the clouds had just let loose a Florida-style deluge, complete with thunder and lightning. I sprinted for my vehicle.

When I pulled my vehicle behind hers, where there is no protective overhang, she didn't budge.

So I dashed in and out of the rain several times to load my trunk. With each trip, the unfairness of the situation soaked my soul. I drove home, wipers on the highest speed, and decided to back into the driveway to unload, so I wouldn't have to run far to reach the cover of the garage. I was boggy in body and sullen in spirit.

At this point, I think what happened next was not only the fault of the pick-up-lane squatter, but also the fault of the bend of our driveway!

Yes, our driveway has an unnatural bend, which I will document on my Web page so that you can consider it and write to me and say, "Yes, Janet, your driveway certainly has an unnatural bend." If you do not agree please do not bother to write. But my driveway has a weird curve in it; one that requires a driver to turn the steering wheel sharply when entering or exiting. This often fails to happen, as evidenced by the fact that, at the base of our driveway, we have an ever-widening mud pit where the lawn used to be.

In order to make the retelling of this sad story less painful, allow me to shift into Driver's Education Teacher mode.

"So what we have here, new drivers, is the convergence of the three factors that often result in vehicular accidents. One: a driver who is agitated. Two: plenteous precipitation. And three: a weird sort of bend in a road -- in this case, the homeowner's driveway, where her other vehicle was parked."

Yup. I backed into my own car.

I had just turned my head forward for a second to check that I hadn't driven into the mud pit, when I heard the unmistakable crunch.

"Golly Moses! Darn it all to heck!" I shouted, because Janet's World is a family-friendly column.

I pulled forward and exited the vehicle, looked at the major dent I had made in the bumper and burst into tears.

My husband happened to be in the garage.

"It's just stuff," he said, hugging me. He doesn't care about stuff. He also had the decency to attempt to stifle his laughter.

No so for my editor, Nats Tropappar, whose name has been spelled backward for privacy, and thus makes an excellent stage name in my opinion. When I told him of my driveway incident, he sent me the following compassionate e-mail:

"Did you get the license plate number?"

To contact Janet or hear Janet's World podcasts, visit

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