Much to learn from my mistakes

Considering all the driving I’ve done, when I try and recall mistakes I’ve made that taught me a lesson, there aren’t as many as one would think. I hope
I don’t jinx myself now that I’ve put that in print.

Backing down the driveway in my mother’s Pontiac Acadian when my daughter was less than a year old, there must have been some fussing coming from the car seat in the back which may have distracted me.

Yes, I’ll blame it on my poor defenceless baby. I looked over my left shoulder for oncoming traffic down my quiet street, looked to my right, then began reversing.
Bump! Oh oh. In the seconds that

I looked left then right, a subcompact had slid into the parking spot right next to my driveway.

My car and the subcompact had an unfortunate meeting. A muffled expletive escaped my lips.

Dismounting from her vehicle to check for damage was a woman dressed in black and white with full head gear. Good Lord! I’ve hit a nun. How would I explain this at the

Pearly Gates? Well, Peter, I was shushing my child in the back seat and didn’t see the sister pull up. Damned.

The sister was as sweet as could be. She called me ‘dear’ and told me not to worry, that the damage was insignificant.

Backing out of my driveway since then is a much more careful process, with a check to the left, a check to the right and about three more checks on each side. That’s almost 25 years of paying for my sin.

With maybe one slip-up.

Before backup cameras were standard on most vehicles, I backed up our then-new 2001 GMC Yukon XL into a light stanchion that was below my sight line. The base of the light stanchion was wider than I imagined.

You should tell your children to embrace their mistakes because there’s always something to learn from them.

You should tell your children to embrace their mistakes because there’s always something to learn from them.
Photo: Garry Sowerby,

The noise of the crumple was nauseating but, luckily, since I was in reverse in a parking lot, the speed was not that great.

The impact resulted in a fist-sized punch in the right rear fender. Unfortunately, the stanchion had just been painted a bright yellow. If the fist-shape had been shaped like the letter ‘L’ for ‘Loser,’ it would have been an appropriate badge for me to wear over my next few days of driving.

Besides the new Yukon, my marriage was also relatively new.

My husband was away at the time so I did what anyone else in that situation would do.

I called his twin brother and sobbed: “I broke the Yukon.”

“It can be fixed,” my wise brother-in-law assured.

He maintains to this day that it wasn’t as bad as I made it sound.

Do I reverse very, very carefully these days? You betcha.

I think I’m pretty good at parallel parking. Two to three manoeuvres will get me into a slot that some may not even attempt. So I must have been experiencing a brain cramp when I pulled a beautiful expensive press tester into a spot in front of a large pickup truck and misjudged how close the truck’s turned-out big fat stupid tire was to my passenger side door.

Score one for the big fat stupid tire. Score nil for my pristine press car passenger door that puckered like a soft-boiled egg.

The one mistake that I still think about so often was the only time in my life that I’ve driven through a red light.

I was leaving a friend’s house late at night and came to a deserted intersection. My brain registered a green light. Before I realized the traffic signal I should have been looking at was red, it was too late.

The strident horn and glaring headlights of a large dump truck to my right as I entered the intersection could have had caused me to slam on the brakes, which would have meant certain impact. I would have lost that altercation.

Instead, I accelerated and, from my rear view mirror, watched the truck pass within millimetres of the back of my vehicle. It happened so quickly. Except for the quaking that shook my entire body as I sat at the side of the road for the next 10 minutes, it almost didn’t seem real.

If I had made the mistake two seconds earlier, I would have died. There is no doubt in my mind.

In my shock, I remember wondering what the heck a dump truck was doing out this late at night.

What did I learn from this last one? Don’t drive through red traffic lights at intersections. Don’t assume that people stop at red lights.

You tell your children to embrace their mistakes because there’s always something to learn from them. There should be a disclaimer related to driving: If you’ve not killed yourself first.

Sometimes, I think my encounter with that nun was what got me through the intersection before the dump truck bore down on me that dark night so long ago.

Follow Lisa on Twitter: @FrontLady

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