Tuesday, August 19, 2014

One of Fio's Short Shorts

 Only the names were changed, to protect the author.

What Everyone Knows 

I turn right at Joe Bob’s pool hall, left at God’s Lighthouse, and right again at Della’s Quality Wigs, then proceed down the road through the low water crossing and turn right at the dead end.  This puts me in the faculty parking lot of Little Whitetail High School, where I’ll be teaching a dual credit college class this fall. The weather is nasty, but I’m in luck: there’s an empty space in the first row, near the back door to the school.
I ease into the space, half open my door, and turn to gather my necesaries from the seat beside me—purse, umbrella, satchel of books and hand-outs.
What sounds like the voice of God booms from above my half-open door.
I jerk around, only to have my vision blocked by a large male torso.  The head and shoulders are above my view.
            The voice continues in slow, measured syllables. “Ma’am, you’ve parked in my secretary’s place.  These two spaces are for the principal and the secretary,”
My head bobs like it is on a spring as I look around to check if there is something I missed.  “There isn’t any sign.”
“Everyone knows.”
I glance out of my back window to see where else I might park, but I must not be moving fast enough because the sepulcheral voice addresses me again. “Can I help you, ma’am?”
“I’m just trying to figure out what spots are open.”  What other local dignitaries would I inadvertently offend?  Who else has invisible dubs on choice parking spots?
“They’re all open, ma’am.”
If they're ALL open, why can’t I stay where I am? runs through my mind, but instead I just say “Oh,” close my door, and back out of the parking space.  I end up one row back, in Lord only knows who else’s spot.
A gray-haired woman pulls up next to me, glares at me, and dings my door when she gets out.
When I reclaim my car at the end of the day, I notice, hanging from shiny new metals, are two laminated paper signs designating the principal’s and secretary’s parking places.  Their flap-flap-flapping holds up through several perfunctory autumn storms, but the signs finally blow away in a truly magnificent Thanksgiving gale. The next week they are replaced with metal signs. 
“Those signs are totally unnecessary,” I tell one of the teachers I’ve become friendly with.  “I’m the only one who didn’t know the local customs, and I don’t park in those two spaces any more.  I’m not even parked out back today.  I couldn’t get through the low water crossing so I parked in one of those yellow-striped spaces out front.”
My friend’s eyes bug out in horror. “Out front?  Those spaces are reserved for the coaches!”
"But there weren’t any signs.”  
“Everyone knows.”

No comments: