About a lifetime or so ago, when I had just one child and not three, I bought a little house with a long back garden and a flat red brick drive. It took about six minutes to walk from mine to my mother’s house. Mum’s was slightly less chaotic, definitely cleaner, and she always had better food in her fridge.
When I first moved in, I observed that every morning, rain or shine, and without fail, my elderly neighbour would place two fluorescent orange bollards at the edges of the driveway to his house. I thought this to be a little pedantic; he wasn’t going anywhere and I reasoned that blocking his drive for a minute or two shouldn’t have been such a problem. Until, of course, not long after, it was done to me, and a car completely blocked my drive, trapping me in my home, and preventing me from getting on with my own fairly urgent business.
I hopped about from foot to foot in foul temper and fettered frustration, and unable to do very much about it. I marched across the road to the enormous pre-school, and asked if anyone knew who owned the car blocking my drive, but the building was vast, and no one could help me. All I could do was return and wait.
After a while, the driver came back and apologised profusely. Of course she did. When I eventually arrived for my appointment, I too apologised profusely. Ah, yes the Domino Effect of selfish parking behaviour…
Tanya, I would like to tell you that this was a one-off-occasion, but during the time I lived there, it was an almost weekly occurrence, until I was almost at the point, but not quite, of enquiring from my neighbour the exact location of the Orange Bollard Emporium. I also seriously considered purchasing an air-rifle.
One very wet day, I looked out my bedroom window at the world dashing about below. It was a sweet sight; watching the little ones rush towards the building opposite in colourful wellies, wearing shiny little raincoats, and holding up their teeny Postman Pat and Hello Kitty umbrellas.
I went downstairs to find my coat and keys, opened my front door and POW ZAM! There was a car, a four door saloon of unremarkable manufacture IN MY DRIVE! There. Was a CAR. In my drive!
It’s one thing to edge a little over a drive, it’s yet another to blatantly park right over one, but to actually steer a vehicle OFF the public highway and INTO a PRIVATE driveway is more than just a little cheeky.
I stood in my drive. Of course, I asked myself all the normal questions. “Do I actually know this person? Perhaps it is a delivery? Maybe they think the old occupants still live here?” The rain kept lashing down, and I was soaked through to my gazunders.
Eventually an unattractive and portly man ambled towards me. He didn’t look overly concerned as he reached about in his pocket, presumably for the keys. I tried not to do the hopping thing again, I was aware I may look a teeny weeny bit like Rumplestiltskinella…
With a careful and most measured tone, I enquired, “Excuse me, but do you know me?” He replied that he did not. “So we have never met?” He affirmed we had not. “May I ask why, if indeed we are not acquainted with one another, you have had cause to park in my drive?”
He fiddled about in the pocket of his trousers. Eventually, to some great relief (on both our parts) he pulled out his hand, holding a key. “Well,” he offered; “There was nowhere to park.”
“I am sorry, I do not understand. Do you mean that there is some sort of parking ban on all the surrounding streets, and no car may stop anywhere, so you are required to hurl your precious toddler from a moving vehicle in the general direction of the nursery unless you park your car in my drive?” The poor man looked confused. Clearly he was not used to anything more challenging in the morning than the wordsearch on the back of a packet of cornflakes. “You do realise that this is a private drive?” He fumbled with the key, trying to get into the car as quickly as possible. The rain lashed down. “Well of course I can see that,” as he heaved his considerable bulk behind the steering wheel, and turned on the engine. He backed away, and all he offered was, “But it’s raining!”
This is about recognising when you are wrong, and having the decency, the confidence and the good grace to fess up.
Yesterday, the very kind and most patient Artist came over with a carrier bag filled with various cables and an External Disc Drive. His objective was to make a particular thing (not details please) work, or play. Funny how those two words mean completely opposite activities, until you apply them to CD Drive thingemies. Now all this makes me wince. I do not know how my IT functions, and rather obstinately, I have no desire to learn.
I drive fairly competently, but would not know my valves from my carburettor, or my gasket from my crankshaft and I don’t even know or frankly care, if I’ve used the right terminology.
I quite happily take food from a fridge with inner workings that are a complete mystery to me, and cook that food in an oven that gets hot enough only because I know it is plugged in and I have to turn a dial and the light comes on.
Anyway, after supplying the Artist with coffee from a machine that works simply because I switch it on and fill the tank with water, he fiddled about, phoned a friend, faffed and fuffed and then finally, got a disc to “open” and magically play.
I waited patiently while all this went on. I was a bit useless really. I made lots of coffee. I looked at a book. I noticed a scratch in the oak floor. Well a couple, for the purpose of accuracy. I expressed this out loud, more as an observation, and to prevent further wounds to the wood by examining what might be the causation. This, on my part, was simply a preventative measure and really quite sensible, but clearly bad timing. Just for me, the Artist had just driven across the Duchy and back again in extreme heat, in order to install the spinning disc machine thing. Understandably, he received my comments as an accusation. But he responded a bit like Just William, “Those scratches were there last time. They couldn’t have been made by me.” Then he found a little bit of what looked like a stone chip. “Here! This must be it!” But the potential gouger crumbled between my fingers like chalk. I sighed. It really wasn’t about apportioning blame, but finding out how to prevent further damage.
Earlier, we had been to the Gylly Beach café on Gyllyngvase Beach. IT stuff is hungry work, and the morning was beautiful, and they serve such delicious Eggs Florentine… We sat down at one of the large square tables, surrounded on three sides with sofas. It was a prime position for people watching.
The waiter brought our drinks and cutlery, and placed them on the low wooden table in front of us. In the centre there was a plastic container with communal condiments. We looked out on the view, spotted a dolphin (admittedly inflatable) and talked about babies in papooses, like you do…
A lady arrived with a large dog. I say it was a dog, and it probably was, but it may well have been a small pony, cleverly and cannily clipped, and fairly well trained. Anyway, Robinson Morse lolloped about the place, doing that slobbering panting thing they do on a particularly hot day, and practically sent my cappuccino into my lap with a swish of its Ponytail.
“Excuse me, I’m sorry, but I am quite scared of large dogs. Would you mind moving it further away from me?” I felt this was entirely appropriate. We were not out walking, or on the beach or in a canine compound. We were about to consume comestibles. Immediately, the woman jumped to the Ponydog’s defense. “But he’s lovely! I assure you he is a very friendly dog.” She left out “Pony” (but she may have just been a bit forgetful) “Madam,” I said, observing the Ponydog smearing its bum along the edge of the table, and I WAS so looking forward to receiving my brunch; “Madam, that may well be, but I know a man of six foot three, who runs screaming at the sight of a house spider. We really cannot rationalize phobias.”
The lady took her Ponydog away to the next table, our eggs arrived, and all was well. Back at home and following Floorgate, the Artist looked me very kindly and confessed he felt he had behaved just like the silly lady at the café. I expressed my gratitude for him spending so much time staring at the spinning beach ball of doom on the computer, when he could have been outside looking at real ones. Not doomed ones, of course… in return, I should have let him know my floor timing could have been better.
It would be nice, when we feel brave enough to say what is bothering us, for the other person to have the grace to understand our discomfort, acknowledge it, respect it and most of all, simply do something about it AND apologise. This lesson also applies to the author, who is grateful to be reminded of this by those who do it with great love. In that spirit, I hereby apologise for my timing. It is one of my FLOORS.