by Gina Sestak
We want it in our novels, right? Conflict, that is. We pit our characters against each other, against themselves, against nature, against circumstances, against God. Makes for a good story, but in real life . . .
I had some of that real life conflict this past week.
The snow began on Monday afternoon. By the time I got out of my Pittsburgh Filmmakers class at 9:00, it was several inches deep. I drove the two miles home very slowly, slaloming around the slow-covered streets, narrowly missing parked cars and on-coming traffic, and began to relax when I reached my house. I was reluctant to park on the street for fear of other sliding cars, so I tried pulling into my snow-covered driveway. Big mistake. The car slid sideways and came to rest with its front in my barberry hedge, its middle blocking the sidewalk, and its rear sticking out into the street. I tried to back it out, rock it out, put it in neutral and push. I shoveled the snow around the car, threw down some salt, and tried again. Nothing worked. I conceded defeat and went inside to call AAA.
That began another conflict. I really needed help getting my car out of the hedge. By blocking the sidewalk, it was forcing pedestrians out into the street, the realm of sliding cars. I didn't want to be responsible for anybody getting crushed. AAA was busy, though, with stranded drivers and fender benders on the highway. The operator didn't want to send a tow truck to someone whose car was parked at home. After some discussion, I was able to convince her that my car wasn't parked at home. It was wrecked at home. She finally told me, "90 minutes."
After nearly an hour and a half, the phone rang, and a man explained his tow truck driver hadn't been able to get up a hill and so they couldn't reach me. I suggested an alternate route. He expressed reluctance to respond to a car parked at home. I went through my story again - the car isn't parked at home. It's wrecked at home. He agreed to send somebody. I wasn't sure if he was really going to do it or if he just wanted to get me off the phone.
Another call. The tow truck had arrived. A nice young man managed to get the car out of the hedge and positioned it against the curb. I found the hubcap embedded in the hedge and he put it on the wheel. All done, right?
Not quite. The car looked fine the following day, so I drove it to an afternoon class at Pitt. It looked okay when I came out, but by the time I got home the right front tire - the one that had spent most time in the hedge - was flat. Another call to AAA.
Another nice young man showed up and replaced the flat tire with a funny looking spare. I took the tire to be repaired.
All told, this conflict ended well. No one was injured and the damage was minor. Even the tire survived, a cheap fix ($20). Now that the car has been removed, the hedge appears to be okay. And I have a bunch of new experiences to draw on in my writing.
So, how has your week been?