Remember the two-wheels-in-the-air driving stunts on Dukes of Hazzard?
Okay, I didn’t really watch the show, but I did pull that move once.
I drove, two wheels high in the air, right down the main street of my town.
I imagine it looking awesome, looking just like this.
But how it felt was less than awesome.
Because I did it totally by accident.
Also, there was a baby involved…!
Read on… :)
I was working across town at the local bakery when it happened. It was a dark winter morning and I had slept in. Again.
The alarm clock and I have never been friends.
In my early twenties I had to hide my alarm clock in a different place every night so that in the morning, when it went off, I couldn’t find it. I hid it under the bed. In the closet. In the hallway. On the window sill. I did this because I had the weird ability to remain fully unconscious even while getting out of bed, walking across the room, shutting off the shrieking alarm, and returning to bed.
When I started moving my alarm clock from place to place, my conscious self trying to outsmart my sleeping self, I finally solved the problem. It gave me just enough time and confusion to wake me up while I was hunting for the screaming alarm clock.
I have woken up many times to find myself standing in the middle of the room, mid-alarm clock hunt. I’ve even woken up with a phone in my hand, trying to understand the words of the caller who I had apparently been talking with.
ANYway… that’s all just a bizarre backstory to my being late for work one winter morning.
I had slept in. Again.
In a frenzy, I pulled my hair back into a bun, grabbed a slice of bread to jam into my mouth on the way out, and ran out to start the car. The car rumbled reluctantly to life and I sat there, shivering, glaring and swearing at the solidly frozen windshield.
I shivered and complained and waited for the window to thaw. I scratched at the window with a debit card and begged for the window to hurry and clear.
Soon a clear circle formed on the glass, about the size of my face.
I looked at the dash clock and groaned. I was so late. Then an idea struck and I hunched to peer through the little face-sized hole. Maybe…?
Don’t be crazy, Kim. OBVIOUSLY you can’t drive this way. In the dark. For a mile.
But… it was also crazy-early, and there was no traffic this time of day. Besides, it was a straight shot — I didn’t have to make any turns except off my driveway. This could work.
Don’t do it, Kim!
So as I drove hunched over that steering wheel and squinting through the little clear patch of glass, I felt powerful and insane and mischievous and crazy. I hoped there wouldn’t be some little old lady crossing the street in the dark. She’d end up under my car for sure.
Then it happened.
A horrible sound of crunching metal rattled the car — like my car was the Titanic hitting an iceberg at just the wrong angle. Really, that wasn’t far off. The town snow-clearing efforts had created a mountain range of snow right in the middle of the street. Between forgetting this annual recurrence and not seeing much in the darkness, I hit the hard-packed ramp.
Through the tiny clearing on the window I watched the storefronts on main street fall away. In their place was the clear black sky all full of stars.
Then the stars whipped around in a blur and I jostled around in the seat, hitting the steering wheel, the door handle, the window.
In a horrid moment of silence I realized my entire body was weighing on the seatbelt, and I was suspended over the passenger seat as if from a hammock.
I squinted through the little patch of window. In the darkness, the storefronts and pavement all moved on their sides as if on a conveyor.
The car was sideways, with two wheels up in the air, and still driving down main street!
Painted lines on the pavement slid themselves under the car one by one as the car rolled slowly forward. I just hung there, scared to steer, scared to breathe. Scared for the baby in my tummy and how this might end badly. Oh yeah — I forgot to mention — I was 8 months pregnant with my first. Baby and mommy were both wheeling down main street like some bizarre Dukes of Hazzard getaway.
I wondered if anyone else was seeing this.
I wondered if I could make it to the end of the street like this and just pull up to work on two wheels.
I wondered how this would end.
Then a magnificent crash shook the whole car with furious noise and gyration. I jostled hard in my seat, slamming hard against the seatbelt and bumping my belly against the steering wheel.
That was the scariest part — the belly on the steering wheel.
The circle on the window was larger now, and through it I could see the car was now firmly back on earth. All was normal again. Except it wasn’t. Now the car moved forward but gyrated and jiggled like Mater in Cars. “Weeeeheeeheee! Look at me!!! I’m the first one on the new road!” My car made almost the same wobbly sounds as he did, and I’m pretty sure left a wake of metal things and pieces as it went.
I pulled over to the side of the road and immediately called Mark. My whole body trembled with the fright of what just happened. Mark came to my rescue immediately (we lived just a couple of blocks away) and was very sweet about it. He comforted me in my fears about the baby and held us tight. In response to my profuse apologies for probably ruining our car and costing us thousands of dollars, he chuckled, amused and unphased, and reassured me that he could totally fix it.
We parted ways, he smiling that reassuring smile, me crying with relief and embarrassment.
I drove my vibrating jalopy the rest of the way to work and finished out my shift.
Two things I learned that day
Obviously, don’t do that ever again was my primary take away. After that, no matter how late I was or how frozen the windshield, I gave the car time enough to thaw properly.
But an important take away from that story — a lesson that I continue to learn — is the interconnectedness of humans. We need and depend on each other, sometimes our lives literally depend on it.
My baby needed my provision of safety (which I didn’t do awesomely that day). I needed Mark to comfort me and also fix our car. We just need each other, you know? For someone who has been independent and enjoyed autonomy as I have, learning this lesson has been an ongoing process. I’m still learning.
More and more, I notice in myself a deeper and deeper appreciation of our interconnectedness, and see the benefit and value we bring to each other.
Thanks for reading.
P.S. No babies were harmed in the living of this story. The baby was totally fine. He is now 16 years old, happy, safe, and even running his own business. He also enjoys hearing this and other stories from his pre and post birth life.