The park is closed (chumps)

It was a long time ago. My then-boyfriend and I went to visit a park neither of us had been to before. I drove my car. There was a sign in the small parking lot that either said the park closed at sundown or a set specific time – I no longer remember which – but there was no entrance booth, admission fee, or any employees. It was a do-it-yourself place. We parked and headed off for a hike on the trails.

It got dark while we were on the path in the woods, but I didn’t think too much about it. Not until we spilled back out onto the parking lot later. My car was sitting all alone in the lot. Moreover, the entrance/exit road now had a chain link and padlock strung across it. It was the only way in or out. Nobody was around. We were locked in.

Somebody had evidently come along, seen the car there – no way to miss it – and proceeded to lock up and leave. What if the owner(s) of the vehicle were hurt and stranded on a trail? What if a rabid squirrel had laid them low? Sure, nothing had happened to us other than being late to clear out, but the gate locker didn’t know that. I thought locking us in was a lousy thing to do. This was pre-cellphone days, not that I would have had one anyway, and there was no public phone available. There was nothing around, no commercial businesses or anything to walk to. There wasn’t even a notice to tell us who to call if locked in. Nice.

Here’s the thing. My dander was up. We were in an unfamiliar neighborhood far from our respective homes. It was dark. What were we going to do, abandon the car and just set out walking? Come back the next day to retrieve the car? I thought not. We examined the chain and lock. Wasn’t nuthin’ gonna happen with that. BUT. Chain links continued along the grass area next to the road and they were not locked and could be lifted up and moved. Hot diggity. We were sort of in business.

See, the parking lot where my car was sat below the locked road and length of chain links. The only way to get up there and out would be to drive over a curb and then up a grassy embankment. I had a 4 cylinder American car. Not a monster truck. This car was taxed to plod along on flat, paved surfaces. I’d certainly never done any off-roading in it. But we weren’t leaving without my car. Not if I could help it.

We loaded in. My plan was to pull back as far as possible so I’d get up whatever speed I could for a “running start” with the hope the momentum would help get the car over the curb and up the modest hill. My boyfriend, in the passenger seat, asked if maybe he should do the driving for the attempted manuever. He was a big guy, but not an alpha type and accepted (without pushing) my answer, “No, I want to do it.”

I got the car back as far as space allowed and stepped on the gas. I was thrilled and optimistic as we went over the curb and, without hesitating, I pressed the accelerator down as far as it would go and, to my happy surprise, the car kept going faithfully upward till we reached the top. We clunked down gracelessly over the curb into the street. I was exhilarated with my accomplishment. A big nuisance of a problem was averted. And because we weren’t jerks, we even put the chain link back in place before leaving. I was only the littlest bit sorry about having driven on the grass.

Shabby artist's rendering

Shabby artist’s rendering

14 thoughts on “The park is closed (chumps)

  1. longchaps2

    Nice of them to be concerned that you might have gotten hurt in their park. I thought that’s why they monitored the parking lots. Good thinking on the off road driving though. Maybe you missed your career in off road racing? lol.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. markbialczak

    I wish I could have seen the eyes of the guy with the clipboard who showed up expecting a locked in car the next morning, Colette. I hope you nicknamed your little car Houdini after that one great escape. That night worker who locked you in was a real peach. I wonder if that maneuver was in the manual.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. writerinsoul Post author

      Oh yes, I so dearly would have loved to have seen the face of that petty employee in the morning! You’re right; who tells a park employee to lock people in and go on home?!



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