Parking Problems

Sometimes coming up with a title is harder than writing a blog post.

I haven’t been writing a lot since we got back for a few reasons. JR has been working a lot of overtime, and I didn’t feel well for a while after we returned (terrible allergies and jet lag), and we just haven’t been doing anything that exciting.

But we were relaying this story at dinner last night and I thought it was worth sharing on here, even if it happened several weeks ago. I like to think I’ve become a real natural at driving here. One with the people, you might say. So when our car needed the brakes checked and a headlight replaced, it made sense for me to take care of it during the day while JR was working. The biggest concern JR had is that I tend to believe every single thing the car repair people tell me. I just nod along and smile, assume they’re being honest, and hand over my credit card. The last time I got an oil change on my own (for my new car) it cost me $80 at a Jiffy Lube that advertised $30 oil changes. JR was not pleased, but I have no idea what went wrong.

It was pouring rain that day, and a drive that would normally take me 15 minutes was made significantly longer by the weather and this crazy construction they have going on that created a detour on a major road. The detour can get pretty backed up, so one of our friends showed us an alternate route that involves a bunch of one lane roads and praying you don’t get into an Albanian driving standoff with someone coming the other direction.

I was feeling feisty, so I decided to try that alternate route on my own. To turn off, you have to edge up past this GIGANTIC hole in the road.

car 1.2

car 1.1

Note the complete lack of orange cones, or any type of warning that you maybe shouldn’t get too close. It’s especially fun at night!

I made it to the dealership, and they determined our brakes were fine, so after getting the headlight fixed (only 14 Euros!), I was back on my way home. Traffic had become much worse, and the rain continued to come down. In Kosovo, it’s acceptable to drive in whichever direction is most convenient to YOU, regardless of the flow of traffic or logic.

car 1.3

car 1.4

I made it all the way home without incident. I was feeling really proud of myself. I pulled into our narrow garage, and realized I had driven too close to the side. I was halfway in when I felt the car hit something. I stopped and looked out the driver’s side window to see that the left side of the car was completely up against the garage. Crap. I didn’t know if it made more sense to pull forward or backwards – what would minimize the damage? I put the car in park, hoping to get out and investigate further. Well, given how tiny our garage is, I couldn’t get my door open. I was stuck.

car 1.5

I called JR at work. Our conversation went something like this.

Me: Oh hey, just wanted to let you know I’m home, but I’m kind of stuck in the garage.
JR: What do you mean you’re stuck in the garage?
Me: Well I scraped up the car on the side, and now I can’t get out of the door and I’m scared to move and cause more damage. So I’m stuck.
JR: I’m sorry but I’m at work – I’m not sure what I can about it right now?
Me: Oh nothing! I know you’re busy. I just wanted you to know that I was stuck, in case I’m sitting here when you get home. Just a heads up!

We got off the phone and I pondered my next move. I texted my upstairs neighbor, and luckily, she was home and able to come down stairs and direct me so I could drive the car out of the garage. Now I just park on the sidewalk outside of our building like everyone else.

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