I honestly don’t know what came over me. I have no answer for what I did, and I can’t explain it, but I definitely, and quite accidentally, fed the misconception of women being horrible drivers. Normally, I’m a great driver. When I worked at a private daycare long ago, I picked up the after-school kids and brought them back to the center, and in order to do that, I had to take safe driving lessons and be certified to drive the van. Ever since then, I have been an overly alert driver and super cognizant of my surroundings.
So I really can’t explain the other day.
Baby girl and I had just left a kid’s birthday party and were headed home when I decided to stop for gas. The area we were in was not completely foreign to me, but it was under construction. The gas station was tucked within the shopping plaza and kind of back to the left. As I approached it, I saw the ONEWAY signs pointing in to the gas station area. No problem. I followed the signs, pulled up to a pump, and got my gas. When it was time to leave, I couldn’t see any ONEWAY signs showing me how to get out of the gas station. Just chain-linked fences surrounded the station keeping the large construction beast machines at bay. I waited for another car to exit so I could follow, but none did. (Maybe they were waiting for me?) So I drove towards the fence to the left and followed it back towards the entrance. It actually led to a brand new roundabout. When I got to the roundabout, I could see a small street to my immediate right that led back out to the main road, and I could see the shopping plaza, full of ONEWAYS, none of which pointed out. Hmmm…I took the small street.
As I was driving my huge, white, SUV down the little two lane road, things started to feel weird like when you’re not sure which way a shirt goes, but you put it on anyway and find out later that it WAS on backwards. I glanced in my rear view mirror and saw a STOP sign. Wait. I can see the STOP sign. That was my first clue, but, for unknown reasons, I kept driving. As I continued slowly along, I glanced in my right side mirror and saw an arrow on the ground behind me pointing straight back. Oh no. This can’t be. Next, the inevitable: a car came down the little street towards me. The driver gave me a non-smile, put his left index finger up and made circles. It had been confirmed. I, the ever-careful, super-safe carrier of children, was driving the wrong way down a one-way street. At that point, I couldn’t go back. The street was smallish and it curved, and my car was too big to make that trip backwards so I continued on. I got to the main road, my destination, just as the light turned. and four lanes of traffic headed in my direction. Everyone could see me right in the midst of my dumbness. I sat there, waiting for a break in the traffic so I could make a hard right onto the street when a small car pulled into the turn lane…and sat there. The little car with its little driver just sat there, and soon another and another and another car was in line, waiting to turn down the ONEWAY street that I was blocking. I looked at the driver and he didn’t even frown. He didn’t yell at me. He didn’t flick me off or lay on his horn. He just sat there giving me the saddest, most pitiful look while shaking his head: Crazy women drivers. I could hear it in his eyes and in the way his head tilted as he slowly shook it back and forth. It would have been better if he was angry, but the pity was almost too much to bear. The light never changed to release me from his condemning gaze. Instead, all four lanes of traffic stopped so I could turn and flee from my humility. It didn’t even matter that the lane I turned into was an expressway on ramp headed in the wrong direction. ::sigh:: At least it wasn’t an expressway exit ramp.
Ladies, I’m so sorry.