‘Dear woman who lives here,” began a note I found taped to my back door a few months ago. “Regarding our encounter this morning, I would like to apologize – SINCERELY – for rudely parking in front of your driveway where I blocked a section of it …”

We live on a corner directly across from a year-round preschool. Every morning and every evening, parents pull up in front and alongside our house to pick up and drop off their beautiful children.

I’m not a morning person. My husband wakes up at least two hours before I do. By the time I swing my fat feet over the side of the bed and shuffle down the stairs, gripping the railing the whole time, he’s had four cups of Folgers medium-roast, checked his email, let the dog out and is, pretty much, hallucinating. He yells his morning greetings and leaps up the stairs two at a time to take his shower.

Still basically asleep, I move in the direction of the red light on the coffee pot. The red light indicates that the coffee was made under an hour ago. If the light is off, I flip it back to red, hoping that one blast of heat will make it better. It never does. Feet nearly working, I walk to the couch, find my reading glasses and check my email, leaving the getting to work by 9 a.m. to the very last second.

This particular morning, with hair wet, finally dressed, keys located, dog accounted for and husband and daughter long gone, I tripped out the back door to find a black Suburban parked in front of my driveway, with all four doors wide open and a lovely-looking mom unloading her brood of three and all their props.

Late, as usual, I threw my hands up and said, “Come on. Don’t park in front of my driveway.” She immediately switched to a passive-aggressive voice, shaming me for getting mad at any woman in her predicament. And then she called me, “Ma’am.”

The note on my door continued …

“When I realized our lot was full, I simple replaced the spot where a car had been parked prior (mindful that you had ample room) in hopes of ‘quickly’ getting my twin three year olds (one w/a broken arm) and my stubborn 5 year old out of the car to drop one of them off at school. I realized after how terrible I handled this situation – my only justification was that I had had a rotten week and my emotions got the best of me …”

My emotions always get the best of me, and the minute our eyes met that morning I knew we needed each other. She aimed her “rotten” week directly at me and I countered with my ugly morning personality. In my driveway, with an audience under 5 years old, we said things like, “Don’t be a jerk.” I said that.

“… I am embarrassed by my behavior,” the note continued, “and ashamed of modeling a temper toward another person especially in front of my children and the community I love …”

Modeling a temper is my specialty, but I was impressed that she could do the same while unloading twin 3-year-olds (one with a broken arm) and a stubborn 5-year-old. And it must have taken tremendous focus to write a long note on the back side of one of her kids’ preschool papers, find a piece of tape somewhere in her cavernous car and then deliver it to my back door, where she kindly placed it for me to see on my return home.

I was, however, glad she loved my community, but wondered where her community was and if anyone ever parked in front of her driveway. My answer was in her next sentence:

“… I understand your frustration – people often use my driveway as a turn-around …”

Question answered.

“… I promise to address the pre-school families about respecting our neighbors when parking near the school.” – “Namaste, Erin”

Not able to respond directly to Erin (she did not leave a phone number), I offer this column as an apology for rudely responding to her situation many mornings ago. – Namaste, Jolene

Jolene McGowan lives and works in Portland with her husband, daughter and dog and has no plans to leave, ever. She can be contacted at:

[email protected]


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