Mrs. Know-It-All goes to the city

There are two more things I now know for sure. I don’t spend enough time in the city and should I go there, I best not be driving.
These revelations come on the heels of, you guessed it, a trip to the city.
I am a strong, independent woman but after this misadventure, my self-esteem needs a boost. I got lost both going into Winnipeg and coming out—and forgot the rules are different on a one-way street.
This “Mrs. Know-It-All” is far too used to the small town way of doing streets, where you don’t need a map and left turns are done from the right centre lane.
I haven’t been to Winnipeg for eight years and even then, that trip didn’t go into the record books as smooth sailing.
In the spring of 1997, I headed in to shop and “hotel it” for a weekend (packing three small children under the age of 10). The hotel I stayed at back then was on the south side of Portage Avenue and for the life of me, I couldn’t grasp the one-way system and how to get across the street to the mall.
Numerous drive-bys, an unplanned tour of four downtown city blocks, and a couple of crying jags later, I figured it out. Then we just shopped and slept in the car in the mall parking lot until the trip was over.
This past weekend, I’d had “city smart” lessons and map coaching from my dad, who drew out a clear-cut path to my hotel destination and the shopping mall. Easy as pie.
I would drive while Daughter #3 would ride shotgun and read said map.
But when I headed west out of Fort Frances on Friday afternoon in a heavy downpour, I should have taken a hint on the impending glitches in my weekend from the “bozo” driving the half-ton truck headed east.
He raced to pass against oncoming traffic and nearly hit me in a head-on collision (I was the one laying on the horn as your rusty bucket slid back into line at the last possible moment. Hope you got to your appointment on time).
Furthermore, little did I know that Daughter #3 wasn’t a map reader—a fact she revealed while we were zooming along in the wrong lane on the Trans-Canada Highway, looking for the “#100 Bypass” sign.
Luckily, Mrs. Know-It-All was on her toes that time.
It wasn’t until after we were chugging along “Route 80” in an artery leading up to the heart of Winnipeg that I made a wrong turn at Albuquerque. A half-hour later, while coughing up dust on what I can only describe as a “wagon-trail,” I figured out we were lost.
The road sign announcing “Headingley” also clued me in.
We did the big “360” and an hour later managed to find our hotel near the Winnipeg airport. We jumped up and down on the beds in our room a few times to celebrate our victory before heading for a “mall-crawl.”
With dad’s directions in my back pocket, we got in the car.
Mrs. Know-It-All should have walked to the mall that evening. Then she wouldn’t have tried to turn left from a one-way street onto a two-way street from the wrong side of the road.
What was that dad said? “Get over to the far left.”
And as if screeching brakes and sudden impact didn’t create enough panic, pulling into a parking lot to face the four strange men who jumped out of the other vehicle, bent at the mouth, was no picnic, either.
I was suddenly very much alone in the big city. Fortunately, their bark was bigger than their bite, and we parted ways with a handshake and, surprisingly, little damage to our jalopies.
On the other hand, Mrs. Know-It-All was a write-off.
Saturday morning, Daughter #3 and I mustered up the courage to drive to the mall and “shopped ’til we dropped”—the bad memories slinking into the back seat.
Alas, our bubble burst as we headed home Sunday morning, beaming because we’d merged successfully onto the bypass. Then the “East to Kenora” sign whizzed by as I ignored it looking for the one to “Steinbach.”
Oh, brother. Mrs. Know-It-All needs a chauffeur.

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