making peace with parallel parking

today’s topic of discussion: parallel parking.

don’t get me wrong, back in the day, I must have known how to do it like a champ, since I did in fact pass my driver’s test with flying colors (if turning my blinker on two blocks before a turn constitutes “flying colors”). but a few weeks ago when Ben and I were spending a Saturday running errands, I was driving us to lunch and I had to parallel park.

things you should know before I tell this story: it doesn’t matter how many times I drive with Ben in the car, if I am behind the wheel and he is in the passenger seat, I am already nervous. something about him being too judgy about my driving abilities? jay to the kay, I’m the judgy one. anyway, I get nervous.

doubly nervous because one night when Ben and I were grabbing a drink at a pub in town, we were sitting at a table along a wall of windows, and we saw this girl try to parallel park for what must have been 20 minutes. and it wasn’t just us. the entire bar was watching. she kept driving up on the curb, having to reverse out, and try it all over again. all while cars were whizzing by her. when she finally walked into the bar I wanted to buy her a drink because I was so stressed out for her.

anyway, Ben and I approach a spot on a sunny Saturday afternoon and he looks over at me a little too skeptically and asks if the spot is big enough. puh-leaze, parallel parking is my jam. after five minutes of said “jamming,” I finally shimmy us into the spot and Ben loosens his grip on the door and laughs, “are you okay, Austin Powers?” I probably shot back something about how he could walk home, but now that I have had time to recover from that stressful situation, I wanted to share with you some pointers.

just don’t parallel park. if you don’t have to, just don’t. avoid it at all costs. park far away and walk, that way you’ll burn extra calories while steering clear of the rest of driving mankind. safety first.

don’t go halfway. you need to go all the way. crank that wheel “to the windooow, to the wall” style, going all the way to the direction of the curb first and finishing with a crank in the opposite direction.

drive around the block a few times. you can survey your surroundings while scoping out a bus-size available space into which you can work your magic.

avoid witnesses. if they are like me, they are probably judging and you don’t need that kind of negativity in your life.

getting out is just as important as getting in. give yourself bumper space, because you may get in and then new people park in front and behind and close in on your bumpers, and you’ll feel trapped and claustrophobic and sad. or you might love tap the bumper of the car in front of you when you try to leave…

once you’ve successfully shimmied your way into a spot, celebrate like you just won the lottery. then go get ice cream. you deserve it.

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