Can you believe I did that?


When I worked as the Jail Matron, my parking place was next to the Jail Commander’s. 

My relationship as the Jail Matron (appointed by the Sheriff, my husband) with the Jail Commander (also appointed by the Sheriff) was occasionally a little rocky, because sometimes our responsibilities overlapped but our priorities differed.  So we had what I would describe as a polite but cool relationship.  It made it easier that I spent very little time in my office that was just two doors down from his.  Most of the time I was in the Jail Commissary on another floor, where Marie and I also had an office area and where we supervised a crew of part-time workers who filled orders for snacks, clothing and hygiene products purchased by the inmates.  So, the Commander and I seldom saw each other unless one sought the other out because there was something we needed to discuss.

I tell you all of that to set the stage for the following incident.

One cold, freezing-rain-on-top-of-snow winter day I went out to my car to leave for the day.  I had my keys in my left hand (because I’m left-handed) and was tip-toeing over choppy, uneven ice that was between the Commander’s car and mine.

All of a sudden my feet started to slip.  You know that awful feeling — the instant when you know you are going to fall but all of your reflexes are working hard against that inevitable?  So, I automatically reached out with my left hand to steady myself on the nearest solid object — the Commander’s car, but it wasn’t enough and I continued to go down … with my hand against the Commander’s car … with my keys in my hand.  Can you see what’s coming?

As I went down, my keys dragged along the side of the Commander’s car.  Yikes!  I had keyed the Commander’s car!  At that exact moment, I ardently wished that the Commander and I had had a close, warm, forgiving friendship.

I had twisted my ankle, probably because I was wearing high heeled boots, and my knees both hurt under the wet knees of my slacks, but I was able to get up and get into my car without falling again.  (On the one hand, I felt fortunate that there wasn’t anyone else in the parking lot at the time, so that they didn’t witness my very undignified fall, but, on the other hand, it would have been nice if some young officer had been around to help me drag myself up!) 

After I picked myself up and managed to get into the car, there was no way I was going to get out again to scrape my windows OR go back into the building to tell the Commander what I had done to his car.  So, I turned the car on with the defroster on full blast and decided to just sit there for however long it took for the defrost to clear the windows.  While I waited, I made some calls on my cell.

First, I called Jerry the Maintenance Manager and told him how slippery the parking lot had become so that he could have someone come out and scrape, plow, sand, whatever, before someone else took a spill and really got hurt.

Then I called the Commander and told him my sad little story, including the part about me keying his car!   I guess it helped that the car was his county-owned car so it would be repaired by the county, because he was very understanding about the car and seemed much more concerned about whether I was all right.  And, in fact, we ended the call by even joking a little about the story that was without a doubt going to get around about what I had done to his car!  What a relief.

The next day, I filled out an accident report and sent a copy to the Commander so that he could see what I had reported.  After he received it, he gave me a call and we again joked about what had happened and how embarrassing it was for me.

That was when I realized … the incident hadn’t been a completely bad thing.  It had actually given the Commander and me something to share a laugh about (albeit, at my pride’s expense!).  I’m sure at least  part of the reason he was so forgiving about it was that he was enjoying my obvious embarrassment at what I had done.  But, in the end, it was worth it for me.  It had given us something to joke about whenever we saw each other (for quite a while!), which ended up making our relationship a little more cordial.

An awkward and embarrassing situation for me that had actually had a surprisingly good impact on a somewhat awkward relationship.  Who could have predicted that!

8 Responses to Can you believe I did that?

  1. That’s a great way for the story to end 🙂 I’m sure it must have helped that it wasn’t his own, personal car…

  2. Sandra says:

    Rachel — Yes, I’m sure that was a big part of why he wasn’t more upset! 🙂

  3. C. Beth says:

    I think any time something like that happens, the person you call is also relieved & happy that you were honest enough to report it!

    When I first started driving, I hit a car in the school parking lot…and it ended up being a TEACHER’S car! I left a note and was always so embarrassed whenever I saw her after that. She was a teacher I didn’t know until this situation, and it wasn’t the best way to be introduced, although she was very sweet and gracious about the whole thing!

  4. Hilary says:

    I have little doubt that any situation involving you tends to have a good impact on those around you. It’s the kind of person you are. That, plus worry and concern for another human being’s safety does tend to emphasize the nurturing, protective parts of our souls. The Commander was no different in that regard. Mostly the former though. 🙂

  5. Sandra says:

    Beth — Occasions like that really leave a lasting memory, don’t they?

    During the years I worked at the truck mfg. company, Mary was the head of HR in our building and a BEAUTIFUL dresser. One day I was walking into the restroom with a cup of coffee as Mary was walking out and we ran into each other, with my coffee splashing all over the beautiful new sweater she was wearing for the first time! She was soooo gracious, and we have since become very good friends. But, it made it even worse at the time that I didn’t know her very well. I did insist on having it dry cleaned right away and the stains did come out, but I will NEVER forget that!

  6. Sandra says:

    Hilary — Welll, I appreciate your faith in me, but I have to say that sometimes the “good” isn’t completely clear, until I write about it! One of the great things about blogging. 🙂

  7. lynn says:

    What a great story, Sandra. It sounds like you handled it brilliantly, with calmness and efficiency. You were probably one heck of a jail matron 🙂

  8. Sandra says:

    Lynn — Welll, I’m definitely flattered to have the adjectives “brilliant, calm and efficient” attributed to me! Believe me, at the time, the incident didn’t make me feel I was ANY of those! 🙂

    I know I should be modest about it, but I DO feel I was “a heck of a Matron” (I even came to appreciate the title, because it’s historical). I was really proud of the changes I made in the job in the short four years I had it, especially in regard to the Commissary (sells things to inmates) which makes money that the Sheriff then uses for some of the training, equipment, cars, uniforms, etc. that are paid for by the profits from Commissary (and, therefore, by the inmates!), that would otherwise have to be paid for by the taxpayers.

    My friend Linda, who had also retired from her “normal” job, went with me to that job, and she was a huge help in computerizing things like inventory, ordering, the forms we used, and all our records that the State Board of Accounts audited.

    And, as a bonus, we got to work with a GREAT group of women in the Commissary. Marie and the “worky workers” as they called themselves were so much fun. It was truly the best job I ever had, because it was fun but also because I felt like I truly made the job better during the time I was there.

    Sorry. I just can’t help myself when I get started on that job. I LOVED it! 🙂

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