For an “epic fail” field trip, combine the following:
- Oregon Symphony Young People’s Concert tickets
- Driving rain
- A ticking clock
- Bumper-to-bumper downtown traffic
- The twelve-passenger school van
- Ten middle school boys
- Me at the wheel
- And a parking structure
Set to music this could almost be The Twelve Days of Christmas, right? Except that I wasn’t singing. Or even smiling.
The event organizers had arranged on-street parking, but only for school buses. So I was not only late, but I was on my own to park the van. Deep breath. A minor setback–or so I thought.
See, I’d forgotten just how tall a twelve-passenger van is. Who knew that so many downtown parking structures have scary-low height clearances? Was it time to cue the horror movie soundtrack? No need. Remember those ten boys? They provided a boatload of encouragement and sound effects.
No SUV parking? No kidding! I finally found a structure tall enough, and in we went. As you can guess, the spaces were both too short and too narrow. But I was determined to find parking, even if I had to hog several spaces.
“It’s…Inception!” The higher up we went, the lower the concrete ceiling became. I was now truly frightened. Our radio antennae was not only touching, it was bending, scraping. Would we become stuck? Would I wreck the school van? The boys were no help—they were downright gleeful. “It’s Inception!” they screamed.
So I called it. Then and there, like the coward that I am, I made for the exit. The expression on the parking lot attendant’s face said it all–I was lucky to escape unscathed. I texted the teachers in the other van–a normal-sized one, already parked–and high-tailed it back to school. Never mind the rain or the freeway traffic or the three-dollar tickets I’d squandered. I was free.
The guys watched Mr Beethoven Lives Upstairs in my classroom. This was more to their taste than a classical concert anyway. And when I unearthed a stash of candy bars for movie snacks, they were thrilled.
On Tuesday, we will again head downtown. Yes, for this year’s Oregon Symphony Young People’s Concert. Ah, but someone else will be driving. The bus, not the van. Ten sets of parents will not get to hear about a real-life Inception experience, and that suits me just fine.