The first time I went for my driver’s exam, I passed. That means that somehow I managed to ace my parallel park. I’m very glad I did as I find that parallel parking is more a matter of chance than of skill.
To give you some context on my parallel parking skill history, let me give you this example from several years ago when I was being the designated driver for my brother. We were arriving home late and most of the street parking was filled, so I had to make a fairly tight parallel park. I started reversing, turned the steering wheel while continuing to reverse, straightened my wheel and stopped. I was two feet away from the curb and crooked. My brother started getting impatient and began to give me instructions on how to park as I began a second attempt. Again my park was a fail. This time it could have been because instead of being relaxed- which, I might add, is an essential element for being able to parallel park- I was getting orders which were making me feel confused and stressed. I pulled back out onto the street for a third trial. This time, my brother ended up grabbing the steering wheel and turning it for me, leaving me with the sole role of reversing the car. On this third attempt, we succeeded and could park. Turns out that my brother with a few drinks in him can parallel park better than I can completely sober.
So, as I was saying, one of the requirements for being able to parallel park is to be relaxed. This need is paired with the necessity of no one to be watching. When people start watching or when someone is behind me waiting for me to finish parking, it usually results in my park being just enough to get out of their way before I drive around the block to park elsewhere.
This brings me to my present story. A couple years ago, my boyfriend (now husband), a friend, and I were going to watch a friend perform at a local café. We were all arriving in separate vehicles and therefore, for three people, we had three cars. I arrived right behind my boyfriend and he kindly signaled to me to take the parking spot right in front of the café. He and his friend drove off to find parking elsewhere. It was a tight spot and I started to parallel park. Before I even had the chance to start a second attempt, I already had one unkindly viewer at the café window. He was smiling. Luckily, I was oblivious at this point to how many other people in the café were watching.
I started my second attempt. Fail.
Attempt number three: this time as I was backing up, my car was stopped by a sudden resistance. I had backed into the car behind me. At this point, I could see a small crowd gathering at the window. Fortunately, this attempt was a success and I only needed to pull forward to have a good park. I turned off my car, but did not get out.
I was NOT going inside. I actually contemplated leaving. There were people inside the café who had been watching and laughing at my parking. Then, I had to bump someone’s car. I was embarrassed to the point of mortification. I stayed seated in my car looking out the window away from the café until my boyfriend came up and knocked on the window.
I swallowed hard and got out. We went inside. It was inside that I found out that the car I had bumped belonged to our friend who was performing. Inside, I found out that he had stopped performing to watch me park- along with everyone else. Inside, I found out that he announced with the mic, “I think someone just hit my car.”
Luckily, this friend didn’t care about scratches and reassured me that I needn’t worry about it.
Nonetheless, my boyfriend, his friend, and I all sat at the bar facing outside for the rest of the concert.
So, dear readers, when someone is parking- especially parallel parking- be kind enough to look away. Or if you are in the car, be kind enough to be patient and refrain from telling him/her how to park, it only makes things worse.