#8 Always Know Your Turn Radius

Growing up, my dad often used what I considered to be “technical terms” when talking about what I thought at the time were simple processes.  For example, when boating, “Ignition off!”, instead of “I took the key out,” or “What’s your ETA?” instead of “When will you arrive at the house.”  But the one I recall most from the time period during which I was learning to drive was, “Watch your turn radius.” I’m going to assume there is a common understanding of the term turn radius but just in case, it is defined as “the smallest amount of space in which a vehicle can move in a complete circle”.  But honestly, what 15 year old kid hears that and doesn’t immediately give a slight eye roll? Well, come to find out, knowing your turn radius is extremely important.

Pickleball is a sport played in many places around the world.  In San Carlos avid players can be found every morning on the local courts .  Tournaments are held throughout the year encouraging fun competition in the community of pickleball players.

A few weeks ago, Mike went on an out of town business trip.  So there I was all alone for a week of gorgeous sunshine and unlimited chick flicks.  Who knew my schedule for the week would become slightly busy. Dinner with a few neighbors, a $14 pedicure ($17 if I upgraded to the deluxe), pilates class taught in Spanish during which I had no choice but to observe others in the class to figure out exactly what to do and the “piece de resistance” for the week, an offer from a friend to teach me the basics of pickleball.The game of pickleball is described by the USA Pickleball Association (UASPA), yes, it is a real organization, as “a paddle sport created for all ages and skill levels.”  This is fantastic because I was never very good at any of the combined sport elements of tennis, badminton and table tennis all of which pickleball claims to incorporate into the game.  This sport is played on a court that is smaller than a tennis court using a paddle about the size of a racquetball racket. A plastic “wiffle ball” for lack of a better name is the target of the swinging players.  Pickleball can be played as either a singles or doubles game. Most importantly however is the name of the game, pickleball, really?  Apparently in the 1960s a trio of dads in Washington state created the game for their bored children for summer fun.  The story is that the family dog, Pickles, kept chasing the ball and running off. Thus the name “pickleball” stuck. Don’t hold me to this because I wasn’t present at the creation of pickleball and as everyone is aware one can’t always believe what is found on the internet.

So, at this point I’ve had one 30 minute pickleball lesson and survived.  I am leaving the house for a second round of instruction and practice and surprisingly, I’m running late.  After jumping into the bright orange jeep I place my shoes and purse on the passenger seat and toss my water bottle onto to floorboard.  As I’m zooming out of the neighborhood down the cobblestone “street” I realize I do not have the pickleball paddles that were loaned to me by my friend.  Arrrrggghhh! Turning around in the streets of the Caracol Peninsula is not as easy feat. I somehow manage to u-turn on a one-way section of the road in order to avoid the only other option of completely exiting and reentering the neighborhood by the guard gate.  I’m back at the house in a flash, in the garage, through the gate, down the stairs, unlock the door, grab the paddles, view a stink-eye from my grumpy Jack Russell terrier, Lola, lock the door, pound back up the stairs, through the gate and into the car. Awesome! I’m now officially late.  After trying to text my partner to let her know I am honestly on my way, I quickly pull the gear shift into reverse and accelerate out of the garage turning as I roll. This is when my father’s advice, “Always know your turn radius,” whispers in my ear. I feel a slight jar and hear a crunching sound.  I slam the gear shift back into park and jump out of the jeep. I run around to the front of the car to find that I have managed to hit my own house with the jeep. The run in caused not only the removal of rock facing that makes up the corner of the garage and a little damage to the car. Marvelous! But, more importantly, I’m late for pickleball and I JUST told her I was literally on my way so I grab the shattered chunks of rocks and toss them into the garage, hoist myself back into the running jeep and exit the garage completely steering clear of causing additional damage.

Back on the cobblestones with two things on my mind, first, I’m super late and my partner has not responded to the text and second, what will Mike say when I tell him I wrecked the car into the house.  As I’m bouncing down the cobbles pondering these two items, I swing around a slight curve only to see my tennis shoe ricochet out the car and onto the street. You’ve got to be kidding! I stop, put the car in park, spring out of the car and have my own personal Chinese Fire Drill as I run around the vehicle to scoop up the shoe.  I make it to the bottom of the hill and out of the neighborhood with no further catapulting projectiles and pull into the courts a mere 20 minutes late. I enter the San Carlos Athletic Club and the employee behind the counter flatly says, “Your friend just left. She didn’t think you were coming.” Can I blame her? No. Am I embarrassed?  Yes. Are we still friends? Absolutely.

I came home to learn that the text messages had failed to send at the time but upon my arrival back at the scene of the crime the messages flooded her phone.  Needless to say, I was forgiven. I called Mike and first reminded him of the time he backed one of our cars into the other, an event he conveniently claims not to remember.  Then I told him of the little mishap between the house and the car. Once all was settled I sat down with Lola, popped a cold beverage and decided I had had enough activity for one day.  Pickleball would just have to wait. As a queued up the next romantic comedy I thought about another phrase my dad often used when he wanted me to “hurry up so we would be on time”. He’d announce in an excited voice, “Let’s get goin’ before the crazies get out there!”  While this quote is drastically less technical than, “Know your turn radius,” it is truly applicable to the events of that day. Chances are that any parent in eyeshot of my limited driving skills that day is surely warning their own 15 year old to avoid the crazy woman in the bright orange jeep.

September 6, 2019

“Rubbin’ is Racin’.”
Character, Harry Hogge from the movie, Days of Thunder

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