Thursday, July 21, 2011

An Awakening in an Elantra

Unless you live smack dab in a city or can have publicists willingly give out DVD screeners, reviewing movies requires a car. This is especially true now that I'm living outside Philadelphia, a commuter friendly city that holds screenings in the adjacent suburbs.

Those who read this blog regularly--all three of you--know that I'm not the biggest fan of driving. I'll do it, but I get nervous. What is the traffic like? Where can I park? What if I get lost? How much gas will I need? A few months ago, I endured a series of unfortunate events that made me realize that I need to not overcomplicate the very simple, sometimes enjoyable task of going from point A to point B.

Bottom line: I had to grow a pair.

In January I went to a screening of "Biutiful" in Philadelphia. As is my overprepared wont, I gave myself plenty of time, brought directions, and hired a sherpah to guide me through the rough patches. Things were going fine until I hit a nasty patch of traffic. The screening was at 10 a.m. The minutes sped by 9:40, 9:50 a.m. Like the mature, sensible adult I am, I started to panic.

Got on the exit, now racing to the parking garage like I'm in the nerdiest version of "Bullit." I got to the parking garage, and realized I was in the service vehicle entrance. Flustered, I tried to figure out where I was, how I got here, how I was going to get out....


Me and my car had gone through the parking garage's gate.

The car was fine, but mortified doesn't begin to describe how I felt. My mind raced through options and then I realized I had to come clean. So I went to the garage's office, and explained what happened and that I was prepared to compensate for the cost of the damage. The manager, couldn't have been nicer. She said that this thing happens often, not to worry about it, and just to reenter.

By the way, I made the screening on time.

Since then, I've been a little reluctant to drive into Philly for screenings. The fiancee, who I think was a getaway man in a past life, loves to drive. Since she can tag along to most screenings now, she handles the commute.

This week I had two screenings in Philly that I had to drive myself to. The trips were smooth and I drove with gusto and verve (i.e., well above the speed limit). As I headed for home last night, I realized how stupid I had been. I'm not dismantling a bomb. I'm not facing the firing squad. I'm driving a friggin' car.

Imagine employing the same scaredy cat mindset to pay bills:

Oh god, what if I don't sign my name on the check? If it's a day late, will the creditors start calling? Did I spell the company's name right? What color ink should I use? Is that pen full? Is that pen full?!?!

Here's the other thing: I want people to rely on me. If I can't drive someone to the airport, what's going to happen when a real emergency arises? Being dependable isn't something you can be on a whim. It takes effort--and the personal insight that only comes on a mad dash to see a bleak Spanish film.

P.S.--On the way back from "Biutiful," I mistakenly chose the wrong address on the GPS, forcing me to take a roundabout way home. A 35 minute drive took close to 90 minutes. I have no philosophical bon mots to share. That was just my own shining stupidity.

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