Why you should start a blog before you get stuck in an underground parking garage.

There’s one very good reason every person should start a blog. It has nothing to do with skill, time, topic, or any other bloggy things. It has everything to do with perspective.  It’s so that, when anything happens, good or bad, you can think, “blog material”. I’m a lot slower to get angry or frustrated with my kids when they practice their somersaults off the furniture or fill the heat register with cars, crayons and K’nex. I don’t get upset about my husband’s inability to clean up his shaving detritus, I don’t call all my friends to bore them with talk about a new recipe I made that rocked my socks, I don’t email people with pictures of my kids doing cute things: instead, I think, “I’ll blog about it!”

I swear it has saved many of my relationships, this blog, and will likely continue to do so as long as it remains in existence.

One of the most important tips given to bloggers, as if it’s something we easily forget, is that life is meant to be lived, and if we aren’t living, really living, away from our computers, we shouldn’t be blogging. And really, I know I couldn’t blog if it wasn’t a side project – I’d  have nothing to say besides “blah, blah, delicious recipe ahead”, and you’d think I was an impersonal, boring, if sometimes useful, cookbook, but you wouldn’t know ME.

Charming as I am. Wouldn’t want to miss out on that, now, woodja.

In the spirit of living, I spent a day at the Food Bloggers of Canada conference a couple weeks ago. It involved first acknowledging to myself that I am, in fact, a food blogger (I already knew I was Canadian ;)) and that I actually have an interest in growing that, whether it stays food focused or goes a different direction.  It involved meeting new people, trying new foods, wearing my baby all day, and, most notably for this post, the act of solo-driving into the city.

Anyone who knows me well knows my sense of direction is in the realm of non-existent, and I was more nervous about the hour-long drive than about any part of the conference.  I tend to go into deep-thinking mode while I’m driving and, while many of my best ideas and insights and moments of clarity come to me in the car, this means my driving suffers.  I miss exits, take random turns down side roads, speed up and slow down somewhat intermittently depending on the speed and excitement of my thoughts, and generally shouldn’t be trusted behind the wheel.

Knowing this, I put my focused pants on and gave myself a stern talking to before leaving – when driving to a new location an hour away, one should not worry about lightbulb moments but focus instead on the mundane task of driving, and other such sage advice.  With great success and nary a wrong turn, I found my location and parked in a lovely underground parking garage and headed in for my day of learning. Despite what you’re thinking, I even had the forethought to look around for a floor level and identifying marker to help me find my car back later.  Not seeing any such indicators, however, I presumed the parking garage was reasonably small. I parked almost immediately after entering and couldn’t see too many more cars, so I didn’t recognize this for the ridiculous assumption it was, having just parked under a major mall in a major city.

After a wonderful day at the conference, where the baby behaved beautifully, the snacks were delicious, and the people and speeches were lovely and inspiring, I headed back to the parking garage, fairly sure I even took the same elevator back into the garage that had gotten me out of it in the first place.


Twenty minutes of walking in a dim underground parking lot filled with the fumes of literally thousands of cars, I was no closer to finding my little blue Honda among the sea of hope-inducing little blue Hondas peppered throughout section orange, purple, yellow, white, black, and green. Coloured sections, friends.  How was I supposed to notice that when I was in ONE SECTION THAT WAS ALL THE SAME COLOUR. USELESS SYSTEM.

Here’s where I could’ve gotten frustrated, panicky, or hopeless.

So I did.

I’ll never see daylight again. Or breathe fresh air. Or know what it’s like to roll down a grassy hill.  My baby will grow up in dim light and fumes, never knowing what a swimming pool is, or a bird, or popcorn, or shoes, or a DAD.

But, as I flapped my arms to air their sweaty pits, I determined this would not be my fate. I set off again, making more careful note of the colours I’d seen – it would seem I didn’t park on Level 2, in section purple, orange, or green.  This was a start. But really, maybe I had – my attempts to look at every car were admittedly half-hearted as my hopes diminished.

Ten more minutes later, I was beginning to realize my lack of ability to strategize really was going to mean this was the end of me. I couldn’t remember where I had been, let alone decide where to go.  All the elevator options looked the same, all the signs said EXIT but there was no actual EXIT that I could see.

Enter the golf cart security guard.

I have never been so happy to see a bored man drive up and offer to take me for a ride. His name was Qais.

We debated the best course of action, and determined that he would lock my stroller in his office while I held the baby and he drove me around to find my car. Little did he know he had picked up a woman who overslept the day they handed out not only sense of direction, but also common sense.

Qais: So which level did you park on?

Me: I’m not sure. Maybe the first one, but I thought there WAS only one.

Qais: Oh. Well, which street did you come in from?

Me: I don’t know – the main one?

Qais: There are 3 main entrances.

Me: Oh.

Qais: Umm…which way did you turn when you came in?

Me: I don’t know.

Qais: Which colour was the section?

Me: Maybe orange? Sorry, that’s a total guess. I don’t know.

Qais: Ok, ok, no problem. Don’t worry about it.

Me: Um, ok? (but even Qais was starting to look worried at this point, so yeah.)

Qais: Well, I’ll just drive around and you tell me if you see your car.

Me: HA! I mean, ok. I’m so sorry.

Qais: No, no, don’t worry about it. It happens all the time.

Me: Really? You probably have to say that.

Qais: Haha, yeah.

So we drove. Qais careened around corners while I tried to hold on to both a now-cranky Gavin and the edge of my seat, and, after a solid 5-7 minutes of this, I spotted the silliest thing I recognized – a sign warning of a wet floor coating. Chalk it up to my years working in the paint industry, I know my wet paint signs.  Sure enough, around the next bend, there was my car!

Me: HOORAY! THAT’S IT! YOU FOUND IT! (I restrained myself from hugging the snot out of long-suffering Qais)

Qais: Oh good, no problem! I’ll just wait while you get the baby in and then you can follow me back down to my office (we were on a different level now) and we’ll get your stroller.

Me: Oh. Um. My keys are in the stroller.

To his eternal credit, Qais did not jump up and down and yell at me, he literally didn’t bat an eye.

Qais: “Oh, okay, no problem.  Let’s go get them, no problem, no, nope, no problem.”

He was undoubtedly wondering what kind of completely useless stereotypical blonde he’d had the misfortune to happen upon in his parking garage, but he was, throughout the whole 20 minute ordeal, the absolute epitome of gracious unrufflability.  When Gavin finally realized this was taking forEVER, he naturally screamed, while Qais reassured me with talk of his own young kids.  He must have said, “No, nope, no problem,” at least 23 times. He didn’t laugh at me, not even once. He brought me back to my stroller, retrieved my keys, brought me back to my car, waited while I got the baby in, led me back to my stroller yet again, put the stroller in my trunk for me, led me to an exit, paid the ticket to get me out, and, quite literally, saved my day.

Unsung heroes, men like Qais.

I am a menace of the violently time-wasting type. And this is why I don’t go out much, or at least only go out with a responsible adult to accompany me. Consider that lesson relearned.



  1. Lisa Tucker says

    Loved this post!!!!! Exactly like something I would do! Most people ask me “how do you come up with this stuff?” and I tell them………it is my life….:) Thank you for posting and making me smile..:) :) :)

  2. says

    Anna this is hilarious – but I’m so glad you made it to the conference and we got to meet! Of course this reminded me of that Seinfeld episode where they lost their car in the parking garage, but they didn’t have a little baby with them! Thank goodness Qais saved the day ;)

  3. says

    Bless your heart! Sorry that your perfect day got a bit sullied by the parking snafu, but I’m thrilled it all turned out okay. =) And thank goodness for Qais! I sort of want to find him and give him a high five for being so awesome. And thank you for giving me a few chuckles, as you are always good at doing!

  4. Jeanette deBoer says

    Thanks for the chuckle. Actually, the laugh. No, to be honest, the guffaw! Sorry that it was at your expense. I laughed out loud when I came to the part about the keys being in the stroller. I am assuming that you can take the laughs and that you can laugh at yourself because you went so far as to write about your adventures. Keep up the good work!

  5. Kathleen Richardson says

    So Funny and so totally believable! Reminds me of the recent visit my son and I made to Washington DC. He parked his car and after we walked about a block he remembered to click something on his iPhone to mark the location. Do you think we could find it on the way back even with the iPhone location marker? No. It took ages to get back to where we were supposed to be. I recognized a lot of things along the way that would’ve led us to the car, but would he listen…?

  6. says

    Anna, thank you so much for sharing! I laughed out loud about the keys being in the stroller. We all have those moments at some point, and thank God for Qais!

  7. says

    Anna! Sorry if I see so much humor in this ????? I can’t wait to start blogging my previous holiday vacation stories………although I’m waiting for my photos to appear to help tell the story. (the left behind camera is a part of the story I guess)
    Anyways maybe a little tip??? We parked in Seattle airport and I was the one to pick up the vehicle…alone….so I took notes, sometimes I take a photo on my phone of where I park the vehicle. Gotta love our technology these days! It’s fast and saved my butt a few times!

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