It turns out that the rooftop cargo container is higher than 2.20 meters after all. There’s really no need to explain how I know this.
It’s not the last boneheaded parking maneuver I will make today. I don’t know how many items are included on the Comprehensive Catalog of Possible Unforced Parking Errors, but I’m confident I’m performing well above the Mendoza Line.
Now, a father who is really on top of things would schedule a trip to Quebec City with his wife and Tintin-loving kids to coincide with the major exhibit on the great Belgian comic artist, Hergé, that happens to be going on at The Museum of Civilization. I know such forward-thinking fathers exist. I once rode with one who drove his kid and me to camp in North Carolina one summer, and surprised us with a side-trip to Wilmington to frolic as much as one can in incredibly cramped quarters on the Battleship USS North Carolina.
But I am no such father.
On the way up to Stanbridge East, my wife asked me, “What is our plan for when we get there?”
“I don’t know,” I said.
“What do you know about the town?”
“So you were thinking we’d just show up and see what happens?”
I didn’t even bother to find out what the name of the Quebec City newspaper is or if there is a local version of Creative Loafing, and I didn’t consult either one, if they even exist, to find out what we could do when we got here. No, I figured we’d just rock up and see what is UP, Quebec CITY?!
I get lucky with the Hergé exhibit, which has me so engrossed that I am constantly being asked by one of my kin where George is. He is as engrossed as I am. It’s not often that I have to drag my children out of a museum exhibit, but none of us want to leave this one.
“Did they have Tintin when you were a kid, Dad?” Henry asks me over lunch after the exhibit.
“They had Tintin long before I became a kid,” I say. I tell him about how I never read Tintin until he and his brothers came along, and about how one of the best things about having children is all the new things they expose you to. “And they still had Tintin when I became a kid a second time,” I think too slowly to say in the moment.
We made the turn today, back south. We are in the new Airbnb in a hamletina in the Eastern Townships, far away from the price-gouging, maple-everything merchants in Vieux-Québec. Charlie is upstairs, reading the Tintin adventure The Shooting Star to Oliver, who is tearfully cradling his already-broken blue single-prop model plane from The Black Island.
I listen to them until Charlie can’t read another word.
Some people plan; some just go, and hope to get lucky.
And then pay $53 for a parking foul.