A Bank, a Banana, and a Little Old Lady

When I was in high school a *ahem* few years ago, I had a little "incident" not long after receiving my driver's license.  Now, before I go into detail about my *awesomeness* as a driver, I'd like to point out that I grew up in a very small town, my summer job consisted of "chopping cotton" (which actually means the exact opposite - I chopped weeds in the cotton fields eight hours a day, many times in one-hundred degree heat, thank you very much), and my dad taught me how to drive on the levees next to the cotton fields where he worked.  (Can you imagine? "Go in a straight line or we'll go into the canal!"  "Uh, okay Dad..." *grips steering wheel tightly*)  So keep in mind that I'm no city girl, and wasn't the perfect driver or anything, to say the least.  (I didn't even get my license until my senior year because I entered my last year of high school at sixteen, and well, I can't remember why else.)

I was a decent driver though.  I mean, I did get my license.  (Lovemuffin would debate this issue but hey, he's nowhere to be seen at the moment.) I was pretty careful about my driving.  I had to be.  I went to school in another town some 20 something miles away from where I lived, and though I took the country roads to get there (highways still make me panic), the traveling helped me accumulate a big amount of driving practice in a very short time.

So one day after school I had gone to the bank (which was in yet another nearby town) and was in a hurry to get somewhere - to see Lovemuffin, or get home maybe - I can't remember exactly. I still remember carrying a big, about-to-be-ripe-but-still-a-little-green-because-ripe-is-gross banana, and peeling it as I hopped back into the car after making my deposit.

I'd parked the car at the closest parking spot to the sidewalk, right next to the handicapped sign, because, as I said, I was in a hurry.  So I  looked around quickly while eating my banana, checked both sides and whatnot, and began to reverse and pull out of the parking spot.

Then, my car shook a little.  It was a new feeling, one I hadn't felt from the driver's seat before. I hit the brakes, probably a little harder than I should have.  

Uh oh....  

I craned my head to the right to see if something had mysteriously jumped in my way.  Was there a car next to me all mangled on one side because I'd reversed into it?  No.  Did I run over some stray dog or cat that just happened to be visiting the bank at the same time as me?  Oh noooo my dear readers.  This was much worse.

Next to my car was a little old lady hanging onto her car door, her walker placed directly in front of her on the asphalt.  And I mean literally hanging on to the door.  Hanging as though she was holding on for dear life.  

Being the brilliant seventeen year-old that I was, I analyzed the walker and thought, "Uh hello lady, hold on to your walker...not the car door!  What good is that going to do?" before realizing that I must have been the one who forced her to grab onto it in the first place.

I can't remember how it happened exactly, but I do know I'd somehow managed to bump into her car hard enough (her driver's side door was open) to make the door swing back and forth which, in turn, caused it to fly right back at her and knock the poor thing off her feet (therefore making her grab the first thing she could reach to save her old little lady bones from shattering all over the place when she hit the ground).  Which is why I saw a short, frail woman with gray hair (wearing one of the plastic rain hood things) ignoring her walker, and desperately clutching to a huge piece of wobbling maroon metal instead.

I felt terrible.  I chucked the banana peel onto the passenger seat and jumped out of the car. (Strange how much of the banana has stayed in my memory.) I ran over to her, and can't remember much of our conversation anymore, but I do know I apologized over and over, and moved the walker closer to the poor woman so she could be on her own two feet again.  

How I didn't see her pull up and get out of her car while I was getting in mine and backing up, I don't know (it must have been a very distracting and tasty banana).  And nothing bad came out of that little incident really.  We didn't exchange insurance information because I'd hit her car with the rubber part of my fender (??? is that the word? It's black, and goes on the back of the car thingy underneath the trunk part), so aside from a little emotional damage, we were both fine.

I learned a lesson that day though.  Always check your blind spot.  To this day, some (okay fine I'll just say it) fourteen years later, I can still remember seeing that woman's feet dangling a foot or so above the ground as she held on.

Checking for the blind spot can also apply to writing.  We all have certain aspects to the craft that we're good at - I, for example, excel in saying "just" and "that" a lot. (Okay I'm sure there's more things I'm good at but this is just the first one that came to mind.)  It's easy to edit the areas we're more sure of - to look at what we do well, see problems here and there, and fix them.  But we also need to look out for those blind spots - areas we may not realize we're having difficulty with, because those are our walkers or tools, so to speak, and in addressing the issues, the story will be better because of it. 

That's where writing groups, critiques, reviews (from whomever we ask for reviews while working on draft after draft), ect. come into play.  Sometimes writers need other people to point out the blind spots.  And not in some "Oh my gosh there's something right there - hit the break NOW! Ahhhhhhhhh! I can't watch!" sort of way, but more of a "Okay, there's a little something here, or there... check it out."  kind of way.

Keep that in mind if someone you know ever asks for your opinion.  There's nothing wrong with stating your opinion, don't get me wrong, but in my experience at least, what I really want to hear about is my blind spot.  Tell me what I missed, what threw you off.  Show me the point I where I paid less attention to my story and little too much attention to the banana.


Tom Bailey said...

No more bananas while driving I take it?

No more illegal parking in the handicapped places too?

I stumbled into your blog and it feels like the owls are all watching me.

Kindest regards,
Tom Bailey

SwEEt PeA said...

Funny!!! LOL!!! Great story and we have SO much more in common than you know. We will have to chat about this topic a little more. =D

Shannon O'Donnell said...

Great story! I love the way you tied it to writing - excellent. :-)