We left Savannah Island at 9:30 am to begin the first leg of the 12 hour trip north to Pittsburgh. Our plan was to leave early so we could get to Savannah by 10. We had some last minute shopping to do. Tom’s favorite Broughton Street men’s store was having a moving sale and he wanted to check out. I had seen a folkloric, Haitian steel drum mermaid that I wanted to pick up for what is becoming my mermaid collection.
Finding parking was impossible. Little did we know it was graduation day for the Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD). We circled and swore for over a half hour. Finally we saw an open spot, but it was the wrong way on a one way street. I decided our best course of action was for me to jump out and stake our claim. I would hold it, Tom would circle the block to come at it the right way.
There I stood. I should have had a flag. Perhaps a Union flag. I felt proud claiming ownership of this metered space.
A HUGE Ford 150 roughneck truck, the color of the eyes of a blue eyed Barbie, pulled up and began to back into where I was standing. I waved my arms while yelling, “WHOA.” He kept coming. The top of his tail gate was the height of my armpits.
Years ago I had a similar vehicle versus me encounter. It was at the kids bus stop. One of the neighborhood dads would drive his kids and wait with them until the bus came. When the bus arrived, his kids would jump out and run, with all the other kids, to the waiting bus. Despite the bus’s blinking red lights and protective arm stretched out like a mom reaching across the front seat, this dad would pull out and take off down the road.
One morning I had had enough. I casually stood in front of his car, sipping my coffee, waiting for the bus to arrive. The bus came. The kids ran. He put his car in gear and headed toward me. I planted my feet, looked at him through his windshield, pointing to the blinking bus to make my point. I knew I had the law on my side.
He kept coming.
I remember thinking to myself, “He is gong to hit me and it is really going to hurt.” Regardless, my feet didn’t move. I was riveted to the spot. He began shouting at me. I shouted back. By the time we were finished making our points, the bus had left. I stepped aside and let him pass.
So it went with the large southern man in his over sized, compensating for something, truck. He informed me, through his rear cab window, that I couldn’t save this parking place. I told him I could…because I was… little did he know that where I come from people save parking spaces, quite frequently, using plastic lawn chairs. I explained, over the roar of his engine, that we had been looking for parking for half an hour and I was waiting for my husband.
His face got redder and he raised his voice to bully level telling me that since he was there, with his truck, he gets the spot. I explained since I was there first, I get the spot. All the while, I was on the phone with Tom, directing him to the cross streets and explaining that a very mad guy wanted our place, so he had to hurry.
Again, my feet were stuck to the pavement. It wasn’t even a conscious choice. I remember thinking, possession is 9/10’s of the law, as my body stood her ground. I told Tom, as my heart pounded, “This Southern guy, in his big truck, is going to hit me.”
Call it chivalry or perhaps Southern awhner, but when truck dude heard that he yelled, “ I’m not gonna hit you.” With that he gunned his engine and peeled off. “Damned Yankee,” I imagined him cursing as he stepped on the gas.
Tom found me a few minutes later and slipped our sleek new Lincoln hybrid quietly into the spot. I was glad to see him.
As we gathered our things to go shop, the owner of the tanning salon across the street came out and said he had seen the whole thing.
He congratulated me for holding my ground.
Perhaps it was my Southern blood bubbling again.
Y’all come back, ya hear