Friday, February 8, 2013

Keep it inside

Last week we finally got some proper Canadian snow and a temperature below -5. I packed up Sass and Little Man for a trek over to my mom's house, since she had miraculously agreed to watch them for an hour so I could go to the gym. Both of them at the same time. For an entire hour! I couldn't believe it and knew I had to get over there quickly before she changed her mind.

The ice gleaming through the thick ruts of snow on the road had other plans. After slipping around a corner a little faster than I'd planned, I stopped looking at the clock and focused on keeping the car off the sidewalk. In the back seat, Sass scolded her Hello Kitty doll on points of etiquette: "No, Kitty! Unh unh! Be nice." Little Man peered around him in serene contemplation of the dirty cars sliding past his window.

As I turned the corner onto my parents' street, I noticed a mailman removing envelopes from a large green deposit box. He was decked out in full Canada Post winter gear: huge blue boots resembling fishing waders, snow pants and a navy hooded parka, complete with fuzzy ear flaps peeking out from the sides of his head. Sass started singing "Wheels on the Bus" while the mailman closed the box and shuffled through the snow toward the curb. Then time turned to sludge as, without looking and without hesitation, he stepped off the curb into my path.

Because I had been watching him, I had an instant to think, "He's not stopping. He's not actually going to walk right in front of me, is he?" before the car was careening across the road, steering wheel shuddering as I yanked it to the left and stomped the brakes to the floor. When no body thumped into the windshield, I slammed on the horn and yelled uselessly through the closed window at the guy, my heart pounding. Sass and Little Man were silent as I straightened out the car and crept down the street to my parents' house. In my rearview mirror, the mailman stood in the middle of the road and waved a glove at me, no doubt giving me the finger inside his cocoon.

It takes a long time to get an infant, toddler and their two diaper bags out of a car. I could see the mailman several houses away as I hurried the kids into my mom's warm kitchen. Hoping to leave before the mailman got any closer, I rushed through my drop-off instructions:
"Hejusthadabottlefreshdiapershe'shadtoastbebacksoonthanksbye!" I'd made it down the porch steps when I heard a gruff voice booming at me across the lawn. I ducked my head and pretended I hadn't heard it, jabbing at the car key fob in a staccato rhythm.

The voice thundered again, closer this time. "Sorry 'bout that!" Horrified, I looked to my right to find the jovial mailman grinning and nodding at me from the house next door. My cheeks heated around my weak smile as I nodded back and slid into the driver's seat, desperate to get away.

Driving down the street, anger swept over me again before cooling into confusion. I knew I'd done something wrong, but I wasn't sure what it was.

32 comments:

  1. I'm thinking you didn't do anything wrong. He obviously didn't look before he attempted to cross. He should know better to assume one could stop at a drop of a dime in conditions like that.

    Off the subject, but I remember when we lived in Montana I would be amazed at the moms that would bring their children out in the cold, snow, ice, freezing temps. The kids would be bundled up. It finally dawned on me the moms had really no choice but to take their kids out (healthy of course) otherwise they'd be homebound for months. I was glad my kids were pre teens and teens when we moved there. I don't think I could have bundled like that.

    betty

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    1. I don't go outside in the winter. When the kids are older, we'll go tobogganing and my husband sometimes takes our toddler on a sleigh ride around the backyard. But I have no interest in taking a 5-month-old infant out in -10 degree weather.

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  2. Sounds like you really need to pay attention if you want to be a mailman in Canada...especially when it's snowing :)

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    1. Well, it is generally advised to look before crossing the street no matter what the weather is. Maybe he mistook his snow gear for armour.

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  3. God, you are such a vivid writer. My heart was pounding and my cheeks felt flushed just reading that last paragraph. I felt like I was there. Also, loved the "Hello Kitty" etiquette lesson from the back. Priceless.

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    1. Thanks Stephanie! Sass gets very serious about instructing her dolls on proper behaviour lately.

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  4. I don't think you did anything wrong, especially since he apologized. I would have been paranoid and thought he was going to yell at me or something! And of course I would have ended up apologizing even if it was his fault.

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    1. That's what disturbed me as I thought about it later. I felt ashamed and guilty because I visibly expressed anger and the other person involved apologized. It seemed like subconsciously I felt that I didn't deserve to stand up for myself, and therefore became really uncomfortable when the other person acknowledged they were in the wrong.

      Female conditioning. Ugh.

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  5. You had me bracing in my chair, worried!

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  6. Great story from where I sit (here in sunny Texas). I was right there with you all the way, down to hoping you maxed out that precious hour!

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    1. Yes, I had a great workout, despite the shame of having the mailman apologize to me on the way there.

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  7. Oh it's so him and not you! I get so stressed by this snow (hello? I'm from CA and they're makin' me live in NJ!!)

    Great story though :)

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    1. It was completely his fault. I just felt I had behaved badly by pointing it out.

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  8. So I'm reading this after watching an episode of "How I met your mother" with Robyn Sparkles and all kinds of Canadian stereotypes and all I think is, "Wow. That's so not how my mail carrier would have reacted. Canadians really *are* polite!"

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    1. Haha!! There are plenty of rude people in Canada too; trust me. However, I've been startled when I've traveled in the States at how much more comfortable Americans are at (loudly) voicing their opinions in public. We tend to mutter passive-aggressively under our breaths or give someone the stinkeye without actually saying anything.

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  9. The stress from almost hitting someone would also make me feel guilty. Just the thought of taking someone elses life, even if it was there fault. SO I understand where you are coming from on that.

    Glad that everyone came away from that ok

    A WHOLE FREAKING HOUR TO GO TO THE GYM!!! I am SOOOO jelly!!!

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    1. I know! My workouts are what keep me (relatively) sane.

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  10. I live in a snowy area too, and I feel like people just don't get it some times. You can't just walk in front of a car like that in the snow! Or cut into traffic in front of some one like that.
    I enjoyed reading this, you did such a great job detailing the little odds and ends of a snowy day.

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    1. The worst offenders are SUVs with good snow tires. Just because YOUR vehicle can handle bad road conditions doesn't mean you can drive like it's a clear summer day. The rest of the cars on the road can't stop on a dime and speeding up behind them in slush will only scare them into going even more slowly. Dumbasses.

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  11. Great story. You had me on the edge of my seat the entire time. I love how a seemingly innocuous incident can be made into an entire story. . . well done!

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    1. Thanks! It was my reaction to the incident that made it something I wanted to write about.

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  12. That would have made me furious!! Thank goodness you didn't hit him!

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    1. With the kids in the car no less - I wasn't going very fast, but it still would have been awful.

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  13. Your description of bundling up the kids and driving in the snow and then racing over to your mom's because of a chance to workout. I felt all of it. I remember as a teen racing around a garbage truck and having the garbage man step out. Thank God he had the trash bags out ahead of him. Those things just happen in life. So glad this ended okay too. And you got a workout in. Woo.

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    1. Wow, you'd think a garbage man would know better! Then again, you'd think a mailman would know better too.

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  14. I don't think you did anything wrong! I almost hit three kids on bikes the other day because they decided to zip from the sidewalk right into the street in front of my car. Thankfully I had seen their reckless riding and was watching them. I gave them a nice, long honk--for the sole reason of warning them. Hopefully they took that scare and realized they needed to look before just riding into the middle of the street. You probably did the same for the mailman, who was clearly at fault. Glad you weren't hurt and neither was he!

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    1. I hope if my kids ever did something so foolish, they would get a good honk to make them wake up and be more careful next time. Good for you.

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  15. Really wonderful, vivid, writing!

    You didn't do anything wrong, but at the same time, it's natural to feel both anger and fear in a situation like that.

    I'm a little more forgiving than everyone else, I guess. I suspect that we've all been the "absentminded" or "in a hurry" person crossing the street at some point or another. Doesn't make the fear or anger evaporate immediately, but maybe it helps to let go of it sooner then next time something similar happens. And oh it will - to all of us.

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    1. Thanks so much, Kristin! Maybe that's part of why I felt guilty about the whole incident: I knew there were times I'd been a less than perfect pedestrian myself.

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  16. It sounds like he was clearly at fault, but I would have been embarrassed and tried to get away quickly too! Ughh. I hate driving in the snow. People in my parts (Connecticut) have gotten so aggressive in the last couple of years, and there are accidents all the time on my commute to work. I have a snow day off from school today from the big blizzard, and we are still digging out. It's going to be a mess with narrow roads for a long time.

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    1. Every year there are a ton of accidents the first few times it snows. It's ridiculous - I mean, this is Canada! It snows every year.

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Lend me some sugar!