There’s nothing quite like being a five-foot-six white girl from Upstate New York driving a Yukon XL Denali. This scenario has often resulted in one of two exchanges.
Carwash attendant: “Don’t you think that car is just a little bit too big for you?”
Me: “Yeah maybe just a little….” (Cue my best fake smile as I attempt to realign the wheels of the beast in the carwash tracks, while silently praying I hadn’t broken anything.)
Classmate: “I thought you loved the earth Eliza…”
Me: No comment. (Really wasn’t any point explaining that my parents hadn’t gone for the “let’s sell the SUV and lease me a Prius” idea.)
I should probably take a moment to say that I did fully appreciate that my parents had provided my siblings and I with access to a vehicle. It may not have been my first choice, but I did come to appreciate the on-road camaraderie I experienced with the other soccer moms and hustlers of Upstate NY. We shared a special bond in our love for leather captain’s chairs, spending upwards of ten minutes standing outside in the winter while pumping gas, and the ability to bring an entourage of up to seven friends anywhere.
I would also like to make a case for listing “park an SUV” under the skill section of my resume, because let me tell you, it IS a skill. For the first five (or so) months my parking strategy consisted of pulling into a spot as far away from other cars as possible, making a phone call, and hurrying away from my car without looking back. There was usually a 50/50 chance that I was parked in the lines, and I was never curious to find out who had witnessed my grand entrance.
Luckily I’ve only been in one car accident. Knock on wood. Unluckily it went something like this:
On the morning of my seventeenth birthday party I headed out to the Party Warehouse. It was pouring out, so I donned a raincoat and my mother’s too-small-for-me rain boots over my party dress. I made a right hand turn into the Party Warehouse parking lot. Then I made a sharp left hand turn into a parking space. Only instead of being satisfied with making it into the space I apparently got a little overzealous with my pressure on the gas. Before I knew what had happened I sped up a small hill, into a tiny fence, and on top of the front of a small car. My shock was matched only by the expression on the face of the FedEx worker who had just watched the entire thing happen. I put the Denali in reverse and backed off the car I had just casually driven on. Soaking wet and sobbing I walked into the Lumber office that the parking lot belonged to. Through that awful hiccupy kind of crying I explained to the secretary what had happened. It turned out that the car belonged to a young man not that much older than me. It was his first day, and the car belonged to his father. I had dented the hood of his car in a pretty serious way.
I. Was. Mortified.
While my mother took care of the insurance information (thank you Mom) the secretary tried to comfort me. “Oh don’t worry dear, it’s not that bad,” she said sympathetically, “when I was about your age I was driving one cold and icy night… and… I hit an old man and he fell down and hit his head, but he was fine!”
Not quite what I would have offered in terms of words of comfort, but hey, sometimes you just have to appreciate what you’re given.