On Saturday, Jerry and I had a rare morning and afternoon off together and took advantage of it by hanging out in our back yard.
While we were lounging, two older women pulled into one of our neighbor's parking spots. The passenger got out of the car wearing a tangerine-colored silk pantsuit and looking utterly confused. Toby, of course, immediately ran up to the fence and started barking at the menacing intruder.
When I bent down to pick him up and tell him that old ladies in pantsuits are not a threat, the woman spoke up and asked if she could park there.
I explained that it was a private lot and that I couldn't promise she wouldn't get towed if our neighbors got home and had nowhere to park. Then I explained that there was a large parking lot two blocks down. Even though I gave her very explicit directions ("Go straight, it's on the right, you can't miss it."), she didn't seem to understand. That or the thought of walking two blocks in a silk pantsuit was enough to make her want to abandon all plans.
Then, in a very helpless and exasperated tone, she explained that they had a church social to attend and "I think when these churches were built, they didn't have cars -- just horses and buggies."
I was about two seconds away from offering to move my car and letting her use our private parking area, but then I realized our other neighbors have a spot they never use.
"Ma'am? There's a spot over here. It's a little tight, but if you think you can manage it, I'm sure it would be fine to park there a few hours."
She thanked me repeatedly and I directed the driver around into the alley. The space is narrow, but the ladies had a compact car, so I didn't think it would be a problem. I had seen our neighbors park a full-sized pickup there. The major obstacles are the wood beam and gutter spouting to the neighbors' carport on the right, our metal fence to the left and a row of bushes to the rear.
Within two seconds, it became very clear to me that my idea was not a good one. I had to scream for her to stop and wave my hands frantically because she almost plowed right through the carport beam. Fortunately, she stopped just in time to only leave a dent in the gutter. But as she backed up, I watched as she scraped the entire side of her car against our fence, contorting it at unnatural angles.
"Oh, oh, oh! Your car!" I said, but she probably couldn't hear me under the crunching sound of the bushes she took out behind her.
Eventually, I directed her to block in an old garage that our neighbors don't use. The park job could only be described as horrible. It was at such a crazy angle that anyone trying to pass through the alley wouldn't be able to. But all I could say was, "PERFECT!" and silently pray that she didn't take out anything else in her path of destruction.
Oddly enough, the women were completely oblivious to any mishap. They got out, approved of the position and location of the car, thanked me at least four times and walked the few steps to the back of the church for their pantsuit social.
I would've felt terribly about the entire thing, but judging by the numerous dents on the vehicle, this was not the first, nor the last time that woman would collide with something while parking.
When I looked back at Jerry in our yard, he had both hands on his forehead and an exasperated look that said, "Why? Why Kelly, WHY?"
That look quickly turned to fury when he came out to inspect the damage and discovered that the woman had snapped the base of our two-inch thick galvanized metal fence anchor and it now was leaning precariously toward our parking area.
"Seriously? Do you have to help EVERYBODY?"
I flashed him my best smile and used a nearby piece of concrete block to prop up the fence to a nearly 90 degree angle.
"Because that's not completely ghetto," he said.
"It'll match the wooden planks we have on the other side preventing Toby from scooting out the bottom of the fence!"
Jerry made fun of me all afternoon, but I didn't back down.
"I STAND BY HELPING TWO OLD LADIES GET TO A CHURCH FUNCTION!"
And I still do. Even though our fence looks like hell.