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please say sorry

December 10th, 2003 · No Comments

Today’s headline in the Bainbridge Review is “Our little downtown is growing up” – and indeed it is, becoming more big city every day…

Wow, driving downtown on the island yesterday was awful! When I left my parking space, the car behind me blocked traffic and gave me little room to back out. Then on my way home, I saw a U-Haul pull out in front of a bus, cutting it off, at 20 mph. I also stopped for some pedestrians crossing the street, but a car in a driveway ahead of me decided to drive into the crosswalk anyway (no one was hurt!) But what happened before all that took the cake….

I had gone downtown and parked in a new space on Winslow Way, one that was created by a bank’s recent remodel. The spot had sidewalk on one side, right near the entrance. The girls and I did a couple errands and then went back to the van, trying to get home with enough time to eat before dance class in the afternoon.

As I buckled up the girls in the back, through the rear window I saw someone pull up in a black pick-up truck, hazard lights on, and park in front of the entrance and behind me, in such a way that I would not be able to get out. The man ran out of the truck and into the bank.

I didn’t know what to do. Given the speed at which the man was running inside the bank, I figured he was taking a quick trip. I don’t think – I hope – he did not know that the girls and I were inside the van, ready to leave. This happens often, I’ve seen many times, people double-park quickly, and then leave, without affecting others. It just so happened that we happened to be in the van. If he had spent any time at all watching the area around the bank, I am sure he would have seen us, as it takes me at least a few minutes to get all the girls in the van. But I gave him the benefit of the doubt, thinking that he didn’t.

I figured it would take me a few minutes anyway to get everyone buckled up, and I hoped he would return by the time I’d fastened all the girls seat belts, but he hadn’t. So I buckled up myself, started my engine and turned on my lights, to make it clear that I was ready and wanting to go. Radio and heat were handy too while we were waiting. I figured I’d give him five minutes and then I’d go in the bank and find him. It’d cost me at least a few minutes to find him anyway.

Three minutes passed on the van’s digital clock. Three minutes can be eternity with three little children. I started to wonder what I’d do next if he didn’t come. It wasn’t great but it wasn’t awful either. At least no one had a suddenly full bladder! I was feeling frustrated though, especially since we were on a schedule with lunch and dance class soon, although I was trying to forgive him.

Then the man came out of the new building, ran to his vehicle, passing past my van and its lights and exhaust, jumped in his truck and pulled away.

At home, I discussed this situation with Ted over lunch, and he seemed to think I should have taken a more aggressive response. I could have immediately yelled at the man, when he parked, or I could have dialed 911, called the cops to come ticket his illegal parking.

Maybe I’m just too nice. Or naive. Maybe that’s my problem in life. But I didn’t want to give him a ticket. Spirit of the season I suppose to give something, but instead I gave him the benefit of the doubt.

And I wanted him to give me something too. As he hurried outside on the sidewalk, past my running van, and pulled away in his truck, I felt disappointed. I really wanted him to give me an apology. To see me – and my girls – waiting and to say “I’m sorry.” Even a wave would have worked for me. Yeah I was frustrated, a bit angry even. But all I wanted was to for him to look at me and say “sorry”. That was the gift I wanted to get.

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