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River Town Chronicles: Get off my lane!

About a week ago, my wife, Tia, and son, Jay, sat around the kitchen table chatting about nothing in particular. He had just finished putting down a Pergola floor in our upstairs hallway, and I believe Tia and I were gushing our thanks and appreciation.

“It looks professional,” I said.

“YouTube,” he said.

I have a sneaking suspicion he takes on these jobs as an excuse to buy more stuff that cuts, tears, vacuums, blows or fastens. In the past month, he’s rounded up an electric or gas-powered: chain saw, nail gun, factory vacuum, mitre saw, cross-cut saw, leaf blower, extendable chain saw, and two or three other things I didn’t want to get close enough to identify.

“A friend of ours just emailed me that we should buy you a Toyota Tacoma for Christmas,” I said. “I think that’s a pickup.”

“Here it is,” he said, showing me in millennial fashion a photo of one on his phone. It looked big enough to carry an extended family of 40 comfortably, with room left over for a backhoe.

“Oh, my gosh!” Tia yelled when seeing it. “That looks like the truck sticking out of a diagonal parking space in downtown Geneva. It was terrible. I had to literally stop and get into the left lane or I’d have hit it.”

“That’s happened to me,” I added. “They need to put up signs limiting access to those spaces based on car length. Anything longer than a hearse should be forbidden.”

While I’m on the subject of parking, let’s talk the Geneva Public Library. Have you ever parked in one of those spaces in front of its entrance? You could fit an aircraft carrier in each spot, but some people can’t fit their Camry between demarcations wider apart than end zone lines.

How do people park their cars there? Do they mistake the backup camera for “Andy" of Mayberry reruns? Drive back and forth, bumping bumpers with parked cars in front of and behind them? Or do drivers see they have so much room that they become blasé, sure they’ll get it right with so much leeway, like a ski plane pilot landing on a glacier, seeing miles of runway, forgets to reverse his engine and drops into the Inland Passage?

As long as I’m on a roll, what’s with people who rake their leaves into the street higher than the Cahokia Mounds, taking up good parking spaces and irritating their neighbors who dutifully pile their leaves on the parkway, killing their grass? Shouldn’t they be ticketed? One night, without rear reflector lights, one of those gargantuan leaf piles, its moldy, brown jaws and moonlit scales as terrifying as a land-born Nessie, nearly swallowed my SUV.

Maybe my new year’s resolution should be to avoid driving or parking altogether, and instead hire a chauffeur who’ll suffer all the indignities. All I need to do is win a $67 million lottery.

That’s my other new year’s resolution.

Rick Holinger lives in Geneva, teaches English at Marmion Academy and moderates a writing workshop. His fiction, essays and poetry have appeared in numerous literary journals. Contact him at

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