The Parking Sign That Hit Me!


We traded in the Toyota for this two-year-old Mercedes beauty. Powerful, loaded, even equipped with a towing package.

Problem is, these German cars do things a bit differently. Like, their gear shift is on the wheel column, on the right. No problem with that. But, to reverse, you push the lever up, and to go forward, you push the lever down. Huh?

Doesn’t it seem logical to push the lever down to go backward, and up to go forward? Aren’t we Americans used to doing it that way?

It took some getting used to that darned lever. Caught myself several times about to do the ‘logical’ ‘thing with the lever.

After a few weeks, I was doing pretty good. The car handles like a dream and is super comfortable, plus it pulls our trailer effortlessly.

A couple of weeks ago I had some errands to run downtown, and the only parking spot available was one of those super-narrow spots. I pulled in, right in front of a two-hour parking sign.  I needed to reverse a bit to straighten out. Concentrating on not scraping the cars on either side, I put my car in reverse and gently pressed the accelerator. The car wasn’t budging. Hmmm.  So I gave it a bit more juice and that’s when the car lurched up and over the lip of the curb with the roar of a charging lion.

Only then did my brain register that I was going forward, not backward, and that the two-hour parking sign was dangerously descending toward my bumper. With a Wagnerian scream, I jammed on the brakes. But not before I had knocked over the sign, and, in trying to reverse over the metal foot of the uprooted pole, scraped and pulled my bumper out.

“Oh my gosh, oh my gosh,” I jabbered to myself. “What do I do?! What do I do? I’ve never been in a car accident. This is awful, just awful. Who do I call?”

I got out and went to inspect the damage. The sign was a goner. No way it could be repaired. There was about a four-inch dent on the front right of my car, smudged with the sign’s green paint. And the bumper? Scraaaaaaaaaaaped like some maleficent had taken a key to it.


I got back inside the car and called the police. When I got dispatch and told them what I’d done, the lady seemed kind of confused. So I repeated, “I knocked down a parking sign and did some damage to my car, as well.”

While I waited for the traffic officer to arrive, a woman walked by, stopped, surveyed the damage. I could see her wheels turning, wondering if she should do anything, Finally, she stepped over the sign and continued on her way. A man walked by and I told him the obvious: “Yes, I’ve already called the police.” He nodded, smiled, and went on his way.

A big, stern-faced police officer showed up about fifteen minutes later and I explained what I’d done, but he obviously didn’t understand about the gear lever and its counter-intuitive ups and downs.

My hands shook and my fingers went clumsy as I tried to retrieve my license, registration and proof of insurance. The officer noted immediately that neither Bruce nor I had signed the registration sheet. Then he also noted that we didn’t have a license plate on the front of the vehicle. Oh boy! This was going to be one whopper of a ticket. And I’m also glad that he didn’t make a stink about my expired proof of insurance card. The new one was still at home.

In the end, the very nice, but stern officer didn’t even give me a ticket. What?!

He gave me his police report and instructed me to call my insurance and send them photos, too. I said thank you and pulled out of the parking spot ever so slowly, aware that he was watching my driving style.

Some lessons for me:

  • Stay in the moment when I’m driving, particularly in parking lots, particularly with an unfamiliar vehicle.
  • This little accident was the perfect example of Jesus’s words: “In this world you will have trouble, but be of good cheer because I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)
  • God can use all sorts of difficulties to teach us, and to bring glory to His name. I’m thankful to the Lord that no one was harmed, and I’m thankful that I didn’t panic and drive away from the scene of the accident. And I’m thankful that He instructed that nice officer not to give me a ticket.


Life is good even when it isn’t because He has overcome the world.

Merry Christmas, and I wish you a New Year filled with His constant presence and protection.

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