You know, things like driving a 9' 8" bus into a parking garage with only a 6' 4" clearance. Yeah, things like that.
Which is to say that I had one hell of a Saturday night!
This was one of my "on duty" weekends; FGS teachers each have six weekends a year in which we do various and sundry activities for the boardint students -- trips to the movies, to the malls, to local hiking trails, etc. Every year, our local ballet company puts on The Nutcracker Suite, and every year there are a handful of girls who really want to go. I did this trip a few years ago and actually fell asleep in my seat; I'm not a fan of ballet in general or The Nutcracker Suite in particular. So I offered to swap duties with colleagues, but no one took me up on it, which is how I found myself driving into downtown Adventure City in a bus with nine girls ready for a ballet adventure.
Here's the thing that went very well in all of this: I dropped off the girls in front of the theatre first; they had an hour and a half to have dinner (staying in small groups for safety) and were going to meet me back in the theatre lobby at 7:15 to get their tickets for the show.
Here's the thing that really didn't go well at all: When I drive the bus, which I do no more than a few times each year, I think a lot about how long and wide I am ... but apparently I don't think nearly enough about how tall I am. And when I saw the parking garage close to the theatre, I was focused on the sign that said "theatre parking"; the sign that said "low clearance" was actually inside the garage, which seems unhelpful, so I was already in the garage entrance when I saw it and ... and, honestly, I don't know what happened in my brain at that point, but the fact of the matter is that I hit the gas and went forward anyway.
And oh, the horrific noise next! Turned out that was the roof of the bus scraping against the cement underhang and breaking off whatever plastic thing is on top of the bus. And then there was the traffic light that I hit and bent a bit sideways.
So that was a pretty pickle I'd landed myself into. I spent the next hour and a half with various parking attendants and managers and the like standing around, staring at the bus and the ceiling and muttering, occasionally turning to me to explain, "You know, the bus was too tall for this garage." Um, yeah, I've got that now. They were clearly thinking, "how the hell does someone get into this situation?" And really, the answer is "I don't actually know. I'm not sure what happened to my brain in that moment."
Fortunately, the administrator on duty at school was the calmest, most competent man every. (There are some administrators I can think of who would probably have collapsed into hysterics at my phone call, which leads one to wonder why on earth they are administrators on duty.) The first thing he asked was, "Are the girls okay? Are you okay?" And when the answer was "yes," he said, "Okay, then, no worries, this is why we have insurance." And he maintained that same calm demeanor throughout.
In the end, he called a tow company that we've used before; they lowered the bus's suspension, pulled the bus out, and then raised the suspension again. Twenty minutes, total. But, thanks to the incompetent assistant manager of the garage, who insisted on things like calling the police, it took a couple of hours before we got to that point. (The police officer was so annoyed by the stupid phone call that he was quite rude to the assistant manager.)
Fortunately, the girls were in no way affected by this. I left the bus in all of its stuck glory to meet them at the theatre at 7:15, got them settled in their seats, and then headed back to the bus in time to meet the police officer there. And then the bus was rescued and ready to drive again in time for me to park illegally across the street from the theatre (but in a line of limos, so I figured correctly that I wouldn't get a ticket) and meet the girls in the theatre lobby. They were disappointed on my behalf that I hadn't gotten to see the show, but I just told them that I'd had a little trouble with the bus and had to get the suspension adjusted but that all was now well, an explanation that seemed perfectly satisfactory to them. There was no way that I wanted the story of my bus adventure zipping around in the student body!
Honestly, the best thing about the whole miserable experience is that I stayed super cool the whole time. I got a little insistent with the incompetent manager at one point (who then started doing the "stay calm, little lady, I can see you're nervous" thing, which annoyed me even more), but I never felt the urge to cry or anything. Yay! I had thought that maybe I'd be overcome by nerves once it was all over, but nope -- just fine.
It was only Sunday night, 24 hours after the whole experience, that I got kind of weepy, in part because I was reliving that horrible noise of the bus scraping against the ceiling, and in part because I suddenly worried about coming to school today. But the day has been just fine -- no requests to come by the head of school's office, no urgent emails or scoldings at all. I ran into the lovely administrator at lunch, and he chuckled a bit when he saw me, and I got to tell him that he was my new hero, and everything was totally fine.
So that's a far more adventurous weekend than I'd been hoping to have! Fortunately, I won't have to drive the bus again until February at the soonest.
And the good news is that I didn't have to sit through another round of The Nutcracker Suite.