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a tow truck called Trigger

At Il Mercato grocery store, I walked out the First Ave exit and forgot to log my license plate into the meter near the elevator to qualify for the 45 minutes free parking. When I returned from my ten minutes of shopping, a tow truck was approaching my car and I had a ticket on my windshield. Shocked, I rushed to read my ticket, “I was only gone ten minutes, I still have lots of free time left” and then remembered, “Oh, I forgot to log in!” and as the tow truck man strode towards me, “I have my receipt, I was only gone-“Unknown

He cut me off. “Listen Ma’am, I don’t make the rules. I just got the call.'” I am still flustered, heading towards my car to throw my grocery bags down, “Oh I know, but honestly, a ticket AND a tow, for parking in a free lot?! This can’t be right” He started to get abrasive, “Ma’am, it is right, you pay me forty dollars on top of the ticket or I tow you and it costs you more for impounding.” I opened my car door and got inside my car to open my wallet and catch my breath, “I wonder if I can contest this, it seems ridiculous!”

I know I likely can’t, one doesn’t get a reprieve for being absent-minded. These two tickets will add up to 10% of my paycheque this week, damn it. While I was in my car, opening up my wallet (note: I am blocked on all sides, there is no possible way I can drive away) the tow truck man strode back to his truck and hooked up my car and hoisted my back end up in the air while I was still in the vehicle!images

Shocked, I yelled out the window, “I never said I wasn’t going to pay you!” And he yelled back, “Get out of the car, Ma’am”, and I realized what he’s probably going to do: tow me away as soon as I get out. So I said, “No. I am paying you the forty dollars and I am not letting you tow me, here is my card”, and I held my card out the car window. He continued to say, “Get out of the car Ma’am if you want to pay.” And I continued, with increased anxiety, to insist I was not not getting out of my car, he could come to me.

He said with flashing angry eyes, “You disrespect me, Ma’am, I am not coming to you.” Surprised, I retorted, “You are threatening me, sir, by hoisting my ass up in the air while I am in the vehicle, which I suspect is not considered safe and perhaps not even legal. Why don’t you end this confrontation by accepting my card?! I am sorry if my tone of voice is short, I just got slapped with two tickets and I have no idea why I am getting towed instead of just ticketed!”

He refused to take payment and refused to release my car. This went on for some time, I was trapped in my car and nobody was around. So I called out, “I might have to call the police, I don’t feel safe. Do you understand why I won’t get out of my car?” And he yelled, “Go ahead, I charge $110.00/hr!” I then I tearfully resorted to a threat, “I am also going to call my husband, he’s a fire fighter and you don’t want to mess with him!” (Did this feminist just say that?!)hqdefault

I shakily dialled home instead of the police because I could tell I was becoming irrational. Why am I losing it like this?! Ridiculous! I was starting to shake. I was feeling dizzy and nauseous. As soon as I heard my husband’s deep patient voice I told him in some scrambled way that I had my back end hoisted by a tow truck and I don’t feel safe getting out of my vehicle to pay. He was only five minutes away. Tow truck man heard me talking on the phone and he came over to my window, still mad, but a little anxious now. “I don’t make the rules, you disrespect me, you wave your card in the air like that, making me come to you! You DISRESPECT ME.”

Somewhere in my head I am aware that I am a white woman in a sports car and he’s a middle eastern man who deals with angry people all day, some of them racist. Somewhere in my head I am aware that he’s a man who is softening slightly because a woman is crying. Somewhere in my head I suspect am probably enforcing his typecast.

I blubbered something along the lines of, “I held out my card to prove I was serious about payment! What is disrespectful?! I haven’t called you names, I haven’t yelled, I am not trying to manipulate you with my emotions, you have genuinely scared me. I don’t feel I can get out of my vehicle, please just be reasonable and take my payment or unhook my car.” He again, head through the passenger window, angrily insisted that I get out of my vehicle first. I had his face hissing at me, I’m blocked on all sides by cars, pillars and a tow truck. I can’t breathe. I start to sob uncontrollably. I don’t remember much else, other than apologizing to him, saying something like, “It’s not you, it’s not – I was attacked before – in my car  – “images-1

This surprised even me. That my mouth knew what was wrong before my head did.

I don’t remember much else. The pull of the seat belt on my throat. My husband’s voice – he towered over the tow truck man with his broad shoulders and long legs, saying calmly, something like, “Why don’t we just resolve this and move on with our day?” I remember floating floating floating up on the ceiling, I remember my husband pulling me gently out of the car once I was released by the tow truck and holding me in his arms. I remember apologizing profusely for being stupid enough to get a ticket but also for being completely emotionally a mess. I remember not being able to make sentences.

I guess we drove home. I guess I got ready for opening night. At some point I made a left turn at an intersection and nearly ran over a pedestrian, thinking, “I should not be driving in this state of mind, how the hell am I going to remember all my lines, my songs and my choreography? My brain and my body aren’t attached.” I remember parking behind the theatre and reading the parking restriction sign about twenty times to make sure I was seeing it straight. I sat in my car and I prayed,, “Please please God, don’t let me disappoint my director. Please don’t let me hang my fellow actors out to dry. Please don’t let me do a bad show for that full house.”

After the show, I drove home. Fellow was waiting with dinner ready, a glass of chilled white wine and the children put to bed. (they had all come to preview)

“How did it go, honey?” I shook my head, “I was absolutely dreadful. Worst opening of my entire career.” And he said, “Was it anything the audience would have noticed?” I burst, “I couldn’t even look my director in the face, I was so horrified, he will never work with me again!” Fellow kissed me on the forehead and smiled, “I doubt that. I saw the show yesterday, and it was charming. Did you director say anything to you?”

Well yes. “He gave me a hug and said, “It’s all fun, it’s so fun” which was gracious. “And his wife was also very kind.”Unknown-1

Fellow smiled, “I know it felt horrible to you, but… honestly, do you think the audience would have noticed anything?” I thought through the two places where I invented new lyrics, the missed line, the early entrance, the inverted line, the tight voice, and the dissonant new melody I gave the opening of the third song…”

In retrospect, I should have done some patting or some other EMDR trick to get me back from disassociation. I did my post-attack therapy. But you kinda have to be associated to think of that stuff in the moment.

All said, to be honest, it wasn’t necessarily something the audience would have caught. They would have just maybe felt I was not a great singer. My colleagues definitely would have noticed. And many of them were there, you know, like really amazing singers like Bev and Jay and Don and they were very kind.

“Well, you got through it. You had a major traumatic event-” I cut him off, “A stupid tow truck! A tow truck?!” He continued calmly, “You have lived through a traumatic violent event that was triggered today.”

Oh that.

My eyes got all swimmy, making his face a puddle, “But why?! Why that?!” I can’t fall apart unexpectedly like that. I have a job to do. I have a life to live. He put his hands on my shoulders, “You were trapped in your car, dealing with an aggressive man, it makes sense.”

True. The body has memories. This is the first time in five years I’ve been “triggered” I guess. I don’t get triggered by my husband, ever, thank goodness. I don’t get triggered by driving. But it was being in this physical position, trapped in a car with my seatbelt over my neck, the driving wheel in front of my chest, the body remembers. Didn’t I just write a play about the body being like a photo album? It is full of pictures. It’s a matter of editing. Releasing the bad pictures to make room for the good ones.

I looked into his beautiful warm smiley eyes and I took a deep breath in.

“I am going to remember this picture. This picture of this man who came to my rescue today. This man who is here for me at the end of a rough night with common sense and tenderness and a meal ready.”

I blinked my eyes like I was snapping a picture.

“Remember this, body. Remember this. This is the real picture. This is the now.”Photo on 2015-12-09 at 1.21 PM #3

 

 

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