Written by: KAJ SCHUT
“Boom!” is all I heard as my green island Jeep collided with a big, stripe-y, police truck.
Growing up in the city, I never understood why people felt the urge to drive. First, you’re stuck in a traffic jam for at least an hour. Then, as the clock ticks away, you get to drive around your neighborhood for at least another hour to find a parking spot. And last but not least, once you do find a place to park your car, it takes all the energy you have left in your tense body not to hit another car while maneuvering yours into a tight place.
Riding a bicycle is just so much easier.
Unfortunately, at the age of 24, I decided to leave the city – where bicycle lanes kept me safe – and move to an island in the Caribbean, where it is merely too hot to even look at a bike, let alone ride one.
So before the big move, my boyfriend Jeff convinced me to get behind the steering wheel and learn how to master a vehicle on four wheels. Three months, 70 hours of driving, one theory exam (nothing wrong with my brain), three practical exams, and – let’s not forget – 4000 Euros later, I was finally the proud, though anxious, owner of a driver’s license. Not in a million years was I ever going to drive in the city again though.
So, in March of 2015 I left my yellow bicycle behind and flew to the Caribbean. Within a week, we had found ourselves a small, green island Jeep – perfect for first time drivers – and before I knew it, I was driving myself to work. Not to exaggerate, but I actually got pretty good at island driving, an adventure better described as “avoiding holes while intoxicated and on the phone with your grandma.”
On August 1st, 2016, I started a new job. And with a new job comes new colleagues. Sadly, one of the interns was leaving not long after I started, so we decided to throw her a goodbye party. And what’s a goodbye party without a goodbye gift? So, on my day off, I decided to drive to town to buy her a small present. Oh, how I wish I hadn’t.
It was a beautiful island morning. The sun was out, the birds were chirping, and I was in a good mood. I got in my Jeep, adjusted the seat and the mirror (like putting down the toilet seat, my boyfriend always forgot that, unlike him, I was a tiny human being), and made my way to town. As it was a weekday, all of the parking spots in the “city center” were taken. So I drove over to the police station, and – lucky me – there were a few spots available.
I maneuvered my Jeep into one of the empty spaces and got out. This day really can’t get any better! I thought. I was the best. The Queen of Cars. Not only had I made it to town safely, I even parked my car without having a panic attack.
But then I noticed the sign: “Reverse parking only.” Damn. I looked around and found an empty parking spot right behind me. All I had to do was get back in the car, and slowly drive in reverse gear. So I did. I got in. I started my car again and slowly started driving backwards. Slowly…. slow… almost there… And there it was. First, the sound of a honking horn. Then, the boom.
All Mothers of Demons of Children with Ugly Toes! I cursed. My heart started pounding, my hands were shaking. I got out of my car and noticed that not only had I collided with a car, I actually hit a police truck. Never before had I been involved in an accident. Never had I gotten a fine. Never ever did anything happen where I had to interact with the police. Until now. On a tiny island in the Caribbean. When I managed to ram my car into an actual police vehicle.
I started sweating profusely as I walked over to the woman who had been driving the police truck. To my relief, I noticed that there was only a tiny scratch on the truck which – in my opinion – could be erased with a little spit. Unfortunately, but not surprisingly, she didn’t agree.
Now, I imagine that if something like this would happen in the big city, we would do the following:
- Call the police. (I know, not really necessary in this case as I hit a police truck in the parking lot of the police station.)
- Fill out paperwork, exchange insurance information, and so on.
- Go home, laugh about the incident, and wait for the insurance company to take care of everything.
Not on this rock though. First, I had to wait for the “road service” to arrive. This offered all police staff a great opportunity to meet the idiotic girl who parked her car into a police truck. When the road service finally arrived (note: afterwards I learned that they’re located in the next building), I had to wait patiently until the guy in question had finished discussing the latest island gossip with all of his police friends. I then spent the next two hours running back and forth between the police station, road service office, and insurance company to get all the right papers asap, only to learn that all offices closed up in the afternoon.
As I finally got home, completely drained, I remembered why I had gone to town in the first place: the goodbye gift. I looked at my Jeep which was now safely parked in front of my house and grimaced. Screw the goodbye gift, never ever was I going to drive again.
Oh, and just for your information, this all happened over a month ago. And guess who’s still waiting for the police to file their paperwork. That’s right: Me.
P.S. The police car in question is cruising through town again. No scratch to be seen.