Sunday, November 27, 2011

Backpacks and Opels

Anyone who has been to Italy or Europe knows that the streets are quite small. It always amazed me to see Americans bringing their huge SUVs to Aviano. Of course, my husband was one of them. He insisted on having our van with us. I refused to drive it. Some streets barely had enough room for two Fiat Cinque-Cento (500) to pass each other. If you were in an American vehicle on one of these roads, someone would have to back up to a wider section.

I left the van to my husband, after all, the man used to drive heavy equipment. I settled on a British car, an Opel. A little two door that barely fit the four kids and I at the time. Let me tell you, this car was great for zooming around Italian streets and parking as well. Driving on the Autostrada was another story. By the time my car reached 100 KPH (62 MPH), the engine sounded like it was being powered by  a bunch of gerbils running on a wheel inside. Oh, how I loved that car. Talk about fuel efficient! Unfortunately, in order to bring it back to the U.S., it would have had to been at least 25 years old, or brought up to American specifications--safety standards. This would be quite expensive. I did not worry about driving my Opel around Italy, but definitely would be fearful in the U.S. It would not fare well in an accident with a car on an American road.

So where does the backpack fit into this story? Well, you would think that I would learn from previous mistakes. That entire issue of shipping ArmorAll in the mail for instance! Aviano AB is split up into sections. You can get from one area to another via the base shuttle. One area has the Department of Defense School for the American children. When school was out for the day, my kids would eventually hop on the shuttle to go to the main base where the exchange was located and where I would pick them up to go home. On this particular day, we were all meeting up with my husband. I was on my way into the exchange when my oldest found me. She did not want to carry her backpack around, and I did not want to go back to the car to open it. Why did I not just give her the key? I will never know. I told her to just put her backpack under the car! Are you seeing the pattern? Not to mention the stupidity here! Put a backpack under a car in a parking lot on a military base in another country! Yes, I was not thinking, nor did I learn anything from our previous adventure.

Next thing I know, they are calling my husband's name over the  system in the exchange. I looked at my husband. Did they just call your name? Oh, and is that a bunch of Security Police running out into the parking lot?! Insert expletive here! Light bulb goes off, and I knew exactly what was going on.  Someone had reported a suspicious backpack under a car in the exchange parking lot. Hubby and I rushed out to my car to find it surrounded by Security Police and my poor daughter getting a very firm lecture. Apparently, she had gone back to the car again.  Then the SP's turn their attention to my husband, explaining the situation. I then blurted out it was my fault, I was not thinking, and I told my daughter to put her backpack under the car. Husband's jaw drops to the asphalt looking at me with that "I cannot believe this is happening again face--mixed with that can't we ever have a low profile at a base and stay off the police blotter?!"

Poor man. Cannot help but feel sorry for him as this was the first of our many public adventures in Aviano!