I swung my dad’s keypass towards the reader, then tapped the steering wheel impatiently while I waited for the parkade door to rattle open. Easing off the brake, I let his little black VW Golf roll down the steep ramp until we’d cleared the door. Then I released the clutch and swung the steering wheel hard right. It was 5:00, “quittin’ time” as a local radio station said, and I was back at Dad’s office after my day of classes at university to pick him up and carpool home.
His parking stall was at the very bottom of the garage, more sharp right turns down than I could count. As I eased on and off the brake, my mind was on my classes and what assignments I’d have to work on when we got home. Then a cyclist came out from behind one of the pillars. I slammed on the brakes, jerking the steering wheel the right, and waited while he went around me. Breathing again, I stepped on the gas to make the corner… and heard the sharp scraping of metal at the back of the car.
I jerked the wheel left again, pulling the car away from the concrete pillar, but the damage was done. My good mood fled as I continued downwards with extreme caution. Parking the car in Dad’s spot, I set the emergency brake and then got out to check the damage. The plastic trim over the wheel was missing and a white gash marred the black paint. A million outcomes ran through my mind, none of them good. Dad would never let me drive his car again. I’d have to pay for the damage. He’d be so angry at me.
I climbed the four flights of stairs out of the basement to the main floor of the building slowly, and then even more slowly climbed the next seven flights up to his floor. Using his keypass, I let myself into his floor and wove through the cubicles to his corner office. He glanced up as he saw me, a huge smile on his face, and gave me his usual welcoming hug.
“There was this biker coming out of the garage when I was going in and I swung around to miss him and scratched your car,” I blurted out, wanting to get the worst over with.
“Did you miss the cyclist?” he asked.
“Yeah, he’s fine,” I said, slightly taken aback. “I just didn’t see him around the pillar.”
“Oh, all right,” he said, shrugging into his suit jacket, plopping his engineer’s hat on his head, and picking up his denim lunch bag. I trailed behind him as we headed out of the office and back down all the stairs. He asked about my classes and chatted about his day at work, but his light-hearted talk couldn’t chase away the dismay I was sure would come when he saw the damage to his car.
“Which side got scratched?” he asked as he opened the parkade door for me.
“Back passenger,” I said, hanging back again as he strode forward to examine the damage.
“Oh, that’s not bad,” he said. “Did you get the trim that fell off?”
“No,” I said. I hadn’t even thought of that.
“Well, we’ll grab it on the way up,” he said, opening my door for me. I stared at him for a minute. He smiled.
“I’m just glad you’re safe and that I get to see you,” he said, giving me a hug. We picked up the piece of trim on our way out of the garage and Dad put it back on, but I don’t remember him ever taking his car into a body shop to fix the scratch. That day, I truly believed it when Dad told me he loved me and said that I was worth more to him than any car.
This picture is me wearing my dad’s hat, sometime during university.