Monday, November 10, 2008

Ma'am, Just Remain Calm.

Those of you who know me well impatiently wait for the Annual Adventure that I have at the Christmas Village. This year did not disappoint in any way. I went with two girlfriends on Friday afternoon to downtown B'ham to the Civic Center for the annual arts and crafts show better known as Christmas Village.

We'd driven around in circles for 10 minutes or so looking for good parking without any success. It was about to rain, so we collectively decided to sit in the car at the entrance to the parking deck and wait a minute or two and see if someone else came out--it would beat walking back to the car in the pouring rain trying to carry our purchases.

Now, there were these orange cone things that the parking lady had come out and moved to let some cars in when spaces were available, and I just pulled the bumper right up to them, planning to idle there for a few minutes rather than sit in the turn lane waiting in the middle of the street. We weren't blocking the street or the entrance (already closed off by the traffic cones); we were just hoping for some folks to come out so that we could go in. No big deal.

Well, I guess that the parking attendant thought we were being aggressive just because we were sitting there (listening to the Carpenter's, incidentally--it's hard to be aggressive while singing along to Leaving on a Jet Plane).

Anyway, I guess she called the parking police, because after we'd been sitting there for a minute or so, a cop on a bike pulled up, a parking police woman blocked us in at the rear, and a security dude for the BJCC pulled up in a very big hurry on a golf cart and blocked our car at the front. It was like some sort of weird security guard SWAT attack.

They were all eyeing us and finally, (keep in mind that I've got both hands on the wheel, the stereo on, and the front windows rolled down--and visualize we are three white women dressed like the Gap exploded all over us in a 2007 vehicle about to go into the Christmas Village, not like we're in militia-wear headed into a gun and survivalist show) and the policeman riding the bicycle (carrying a GUN) gingerly approaches the car and says, "So, what's up?"

I look at him not having any clue what is going on and say, "Um...what? We're waiting on a parking place?"

I say it like a question, have both hands in sight, the music is on in the background and I'm smiling--we've been laughing and giggling and chatting about our kids and grand kids and what we hope to buy inside the BJCC this whole time--we haven't been plotting a terrorist-style overthrow of the government or Bourne-Identity thrill ride through the parking deck--just swapping recipes.

Now, this is the part that could sound like I'm exaggerating, but I'm not. Mr. Policeman raises both of his hands like I'm dangerous and he's trying to talk me down off of a ledge and he says, "Ma'am, I'm going to have to ask you to calm down."

I actually laughed out loud and said, "What? Calm down?"

Then I look at Shelley and at Wanda (the girls in the car with me) with my eyebrows raised, and I am still giggling and say, "What do you mean? I'm not upset in the least." I gesture to the parking deck, "We are just waiting here for the parking deck to open up a spot."

He backs away from me a full, exaggerated step, hands still palms out and up, and says, "Ma'am, we are just talking here."

I swear, I hadn't even raised my voice! (And you know that I'd completely admit it if I had gotten smart.) I was still smiling (at this point). So, now I realize that the security man who has blocked us in at the rear is taking down our license plate and is circling the back of the car. Those of you who know these women realize how terrifying Wanda and Shelley can be when they get their Mad On--I'm sure his taking down my tag number was because they were so scary. All 100 lbs of them in holiday wear is terrifying to behold.

The policeman says, "You are going to have to move your vehicle."

Okay then. I'm shaking my head yes, I'll move the car and say, "Okay, no problem, but I'm blocked in here, and I can't move."

"Again, ma'am just remain calm." (Maybe I was a little sarcastic about the being blocked in thing?? Who can tell at this point?)

I turn to Shelley and say, "Am I acting like I'm upset?"

She shook her head no and gave me this what-in-the-world-is-happening-here look. I certainly don't know.

So, at this exact moment, when I am in fact, about to get angry with this guy who keeps telling me to calm down, the parking attendant who'd been so scared that we were threatening her by sitting at the entrance to the parking deck, comes out of her booth and yells up at the cop, "HEY! I've got a space open for that car if they want to come in now."

It's clear that Deputy Dog here thinks we are causing a ruckus of some sort. We're getting the I'm-dealing-with-vermin once over for a second or two, then he nods slowly at the Parking Lady and turns to me and says, "I guess she's going to let you park in there now, even after all of this."

And because I can't help myself, I say, "Because of all WHAT? What is THIS exactly? Do you get a lot of angry, white, middle-aged women committing violent crime in the parking deck before entering the Christmas Village, an ARTS AND CRAFTS SHOW???"

Now, he should be telling me to calm down because I'm actually getting wound up, instead he moves the cones and lets us into park. HA!

So this confirms that I am indeed on some sort of list somewhere. Nothing else explains that weirdness. Who knew that the BJCC is profiling soccer moms?


Anonymous said...

I am so laughing right now and the kids!!! You are Crazy Charlotte Johnson!! LOL ~shel

Anonymous said...

You do cause a ruckus at the Christmas Vilage each year don't you. I am at work laughing out loud in my office. You are a hoot!

Janet Miller
(Jeremy Littleton's Mother)