I don't know why it's always so nerve racking to drive new places around here, maybe because I'm used to the good ol' grid system. I found myself at exit 39 in Maryland which Google maps told me to take, then up ahead there was exit 39A AND exit 39B?! Google maps failed to mention this decision on my route. I swiftly picked up the trusty cell phone to ask Jen which one was right. Too bad my phone said 'S.O.S. Service Only' which was the type of service I was desiring yet the phone would not dial her number, so it literally came down to a Goofy Movie style decision...aaand...I chose to take 39B on the right. I drove for a few miles not quite confident I had made the correct decision. I caught a glimpse of my navigation system that had been searching for satellites the entire morning...until THAT moment. I had chosen the right road. Thanks NAV, I could have used your services ten minutes ago when I was having a panic attack.
But what was I supposed to do now? I was headed to pick up my friend Jen so she could show me where to park so I wouldn't get ticketed or towed...apparently its an art or learned by experience, skills I unfortunately do not have. Two problems, I had no idea which apartment was hers and no cell service. How did we ever survive without cell phones?....I thought back to those times and remembered PAYPHONE! Do they still exist? Let's hope. I drove for a while and then I spotted the grimy calling machine on the wall of 7Eleven. I gathered up all the change I could find in my car and there I was standing outside the SEV with the nasty phone pressed against my ear hoping Jen would decide to pick up the unknown number, oh and did I mention it was raining? By the 6th ring I was beginning to get pretty nervous but then I heard, "Hello?"
I got through that dilemma just to be faced with another...Jen was like "Oh a park!" I looked to where she was pointing and thought, well I have a small car but how the hell am I getting it in there?! There was only one way...the dreaded parallel park. My only experience with parallel parking was 1) when I failed my driver's test and 2) when I retook the test and the instructor from the DMV chose to ignore the fact that my car was pushing over a garbage can. Parallel parking is dangerous with the wrong person behind the wheel. Good thing I had a wise and patient coach. Because I was all, "I can't do this!" and she was all, "You're doing great!" And after about 5 tries and 5 freakouts I got my civic into its temporary home.
Usually the source of some serious stress is the use of the public transportation system, the Metro, but unusually that was not the case today. Because today I was with a pro so I just relaxed and let her take control. She successfully got us on and off like a nervous mother with her child and that ended up being the quietest time of my morning.
2 hours after my departure we finally made it to our destination. Our National office is where one of the many volunteer efforts was taking place. We went upstairs to meet with a group from Fairfax that provides mentoring, guidance and fun to teenage kids in the adoption system. We were each given a packet full of photos of a child and were provided with some really thoughtful information about each of them from a lady that works for the company and spends a great deal of time with the kids. It was sweet to hear how enthusiastic she was and you could really tell how much she loved all of them. I had never heard anyone use so many amazing adjectives and stories to describe a person. I think she is perfect for her job and her job is perfect for her.
We got chance to create about 40 scrapbooks with those photos and stories, 1 for each of the kids that they would receive as a Christmas present. It was such a fulfilling experience to know that we could do something to touch their lives without even getting to meet them. It also made me stop and think of how grateful I am for what I have...my experiences, my family, my friends, my job. At first I thought taking a full day to slow down like this right in the middle of such a busy time at seemed kind of ridiculous considering the amount of work I had on my desk. But after this day I was really glad I spent my time doing something that meant something instead of just doing something.