First Date Problems

First Date Problems

Anytime someone tells me, “I hate driving in downtown Ottawa”, I tell them the story of Hubs’ and my first date, 11 years ago this week.

I was living and working five hours north of the city in Val-d’Or, smallish-town Quebec. But I got down to Ottawa often, to see family and such. Therefore, it wasn’t such a stretch on a Christmas-shopping-in-the-city visit to agree to a coffee date with that handsome French-Canadian computer scientist I met online. (We’d see if he was really 6′ tall like he claimed… )

I was supposed to meet him at  a coffee shop in the Byward Market. I was not familiar with downtown and neither of us owned a cell phone, but I was armed with a Mapquest printout and a plan to swoop into the market, find a close parking spot, and show up all cool and collected at the coffee shop for 3:00 p.m.

Ottawa’s roads had other plans for this out-of-town chump.

Sure, it’s not the white-knuckled insanity of, say, Montreal, so don’t roll your eyes too hard… but you really need to know what lanes go where, what lanes end, and where you can turn or not, and there are a lot of surprises for anyone not familiar with the routine.

For instance, you’re heading north along Nicholas, thinking “I’ll just keep straight, here in my right lane, and turn right on Rideau”, and then the street’s all “LOL NOPE” when your lane suddenly ends and you’re exiting on some random side street instead.

So anyway, on that day in ’06, things were not going well.

First Date Problems

Cartoon of woman driving to downtown Ottawa

Yeah, I ended up pretty far from where I was trying to be.

Hubs told me that he figured he was being stood up (those online dates are so flaky) and was about to leave. Just then I burst in, 20 minutes late, all red-faced after power-walking four blocks. Whew! Future saved. Kids reappearing in the photo. So much for a dignified entry, though.

He offered me some of his ginger cookie, but I was too busy being embarrassed to take any. It was overall a pretty good date though.

I know the downtown pretty well now, having lived here ten years (you’d hope). It’s a lot easier when you know what lane you’ll need to be in and what roads can be taken where, but every so often in a new area Hubs or I find ourselves up against a traffic surprise and taking an unintended scenic route. It’s those times I turn to him and say, “See? THAT’S why I was late.”

 

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Category: Family, Moms, Relationships

About the Author ()

I am a lifelong (award-winning!) cartoonist and mother of two delightful boys, aged 7 and 5. I like to view today's adventures in parenting as material for tomorrow's cartoon. Looking at family life through "cartoon-coloured glasses" helps me keep the all-important sense of humour required for raising kids... even for the events that don't seem so funny at the time.

Comments (3)

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  1. KD says:

    I remember driving in downtown Ottawa with my grandma when I was young and how frustrating it was to get where we wanted to go!

  2. Elizabeth Matthiesen says:

    Loved reading this and I can sympathise. I myself have no sense of orientation at all, hence I have a Garmin not sure it would help me too much in downtown Ottawa though.

  3. Debbie White Beattie says:

    I live in Southern Ontario and thankfully our roadways are fairly easier but I didn’t leave my house to meet my husband because he called my house in the middle of the night and when I answered we had mistaken each other for someone else and it took a half hour before we realized he had dialed the wrong number but by that time we were intrigued and we’ve been married for over 20 years.
    True story !

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