Dante’s Inferno Has a Parking Garage

Waking up to a phone call from your wailing adult daughter is a sure way to have a coronary early in the morning. Trust me. I know. Because today, I woke up to a phone call from my wailing adult daughter. And my heart still hasn’t completely recovered.

It hasn’t been a particularly good few days for The Daughter in the first place. It started last Thursday when I reminded her that she had jury duty this week.  That brought on a whole cacophony of sighs and “why me’s?” And really, I can understand that. No one is in love with jury duty. By Sunday, she seemed resigned to it.

She had to call in on Thursday night to see if her number was in the jury pool. It was … which meant calling in again on Sunday night to see if anything had changed. It hadn’t. So Sunday night meant that she was working late at her job, got home late, and then had to figure out where she was going early the next morning, which was today, of course.

It also meant having to drive into the capitol city on her own, something she was not familiar or comfortable with. It’s about 15 – 18 miles to city center from where we live. It’s not a hard drive, pretty straight forward actually except for the heavy traffic. You just follow one road and it takes you straight to the capitol building. As a matter of fact, you can see the capitol from 10 miles away. Yeah, it’s flat here. So if you follow this one street, it takes you right there, but that’s where the simple ends.

Once you hit downtown and the square surrounding the capitol, the roads become one way. It can be complicated if you’re not used to rush hour traffic and don’t know where you’re going. So last night, we used Google Maps to scout the area. Her jury duty paperwork recommended that she park in the county garage. I printed out the simplest directions for her while giving a pep talk, and it seemed like she was set to go. Nervous, but set.

She’s like me in a lot of ways. She’s a worrier and not really sure of herself in unfamiliar situations. She can do anything she sets her mind to, but first, she has to get past fear, a trait we both have to deal with. But after talking her down from the dizzying heights of Mount Idontwannadothis,  I thought she was set to go. I was still in bed this morning when she left, since I’m still recovering from a recent illness. As the garage door went up in a distant part of the house, I snuggled back into the covers, with smug satisfaction that everything was going to be okay.

It takes about half an hour to get there, depending on traffic lights. She had given herself an extra 15 minutes, so all seemed well with the world. An hour later, the phone rang, jarring me awake. I answered, becoming instantly awake the moment I realized that the blubbering sound of a pod of narwhals on the other end of the receiver was actually my daughter. My first thought was had she been in a car accident. Had she killed someone accidentally in a crosswalk? Was she hurt? Injured? Was the car okay? Had she called the police? Was she going to jail? What should I wear for a court date? I’ve never been in a courtroom before. Prayer chain. Prayer chain. I had to call the church to get the prayer chain going. All of these flashed through my mind as my daughter sobbed hysterically in my ear.

I asked her again what had happened, and again the gibberish didn’t tell me any more than I already knew. Which was nothing. Finally, I told her she needed to calm down. Easier said than done. My best guess is that she was already worked up and when she heard my voice, the flood gates opened, so being the patient mom that I am, not the least bit prone to over-reacting, I waited for her to compose herself while resisting the urge to reach through the phone and either ring her neck for worrying me or grab her into a big hug for the same thing.

She finally reached the point where she could talk between sobs. As you can imagine, I seized the moment.

“Honey, what’s wrong. What happened? Are you okay? Do I need bail money?” Okay, I didn’t say that last one, but it did cross my mind.

With one last great dramatic pause that would have made Barrymore (John, not Drew) proud, The Daughter tragically announced, “I can’t find a parking place!”

I collapsed on the spot.

As it turns out, the parking garage that the city had recommended for jurors was an evil car-munching monster from hell that once you entered, you never left. Parking garage hell consisted of driving around in endless circles, never ascending, never descending, with any escape cut off by other drivers and reserved parking spots. Around and around until finally the only thing a person can possibly do is park in one of the myriad unused handicap spots and call your mother, thus inducing a heart attack in said mother, which results in a possible ambulance call and trip to the hospital for her, which you will then never hear the end of for the rest of your life. The one bright spot is that she won’t be able to say it to your face because you’re stuck in the parking garage from the ninth level of Dante’s Inferno.

So the possibility existed that I would never see The Daughter again, either because she couldn’t get out of the parking ramp or because I had just had a heart attack from which I would never recover.

As it turned out, the outdoor roof level was free of nasty reserved parking spots, so she was able to park there, and the saga ended. Already 45 minutes late, she didn’t waste much time getting off the phone with me and scurrying in towards the capitol building a couple of blocks away.

For me, going back to bed was impossible at that point. I was waiting to hear from her. She texted me a while ago and said she missed orientation and would have to wing it or come back another day, then promptly texted that she wasn’t going to put herself through that again, so she stayed.

Life is an adventure. For some people, it’s easier to grab a backpack and head out into the world than it is for others. Jury duty for The Daughter is one of the harder adventures. I hope she can find her strength and her sense of humor about this experience. It was nerve wracking for her and then for me, but it worked out. She’s there. On the Square. And to be fair, she’s had enough of a trial today that I hope she doesn’t get picked for a jury. But if she does, she’ll handle it in her own way. She’s stronger than she thinks she is.

My only worry now is how much it will cost to have her car airlifted off the top of the parking garage.

My thanks for the perfect photo goes to http://www.gadling.com/2006/06/08/hidden-gems-hell/

<<This post was mother-written; daughter approved. 🙂 >>

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One response to “Dante’s Inferno Has a Parking Garage

  1. Pingback: Mr. Gram T Pities the Foo … | Thoughts, Socks and Jots

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