Parallel Parking — The Final Frontier

I recently served a two-month grand jury term.  In addition to learning that there are a lot of trashy people in my town, I learned that I am a coward when it comes to parallel parking. Every Wednesday, my jury days, I would get to the court over an hour early so I could park in a real parking lot. If I didn’t get there early, there would be no spaces in the lot and I would have had to, gulp, park on the street. Confession: I’m 44 and ½ years old and I do not know how to parallel park.

I learned to drive in South Florida, Hollywood to be specific.  Back in the day, in Hollywood, I never had to parallel park.  Even the street meter parking in the down town area was diagonal pull in parking.  Every place I ever wanted or needed to go had a parking lot.

I got so little practice with parallel parking when I had my restricted that I failed my first try at getting my regular driver’s license. When I attempted to park between the two poles, as instructed, I backed into one of the poles. The screechy old woman who was administering my test screamed, “You failed!”

That was my final straw with her. She hated me from the moment she got in my driving instructor’s small Toyota. The license examiner had me press the horn and it made a pathetic, sick frog noise.

“I could fail you for that horn!” She yelled.

My heart immediately started beating faster.  “It’s not my car. It’s my driving teacher’s car,” I told her.  I could tell by her face that I probably shouldn’t have talked back. Oh well.  Too late.

After that rough beginning, it’s no wonder I failed the test.  After I banged into the pole, the examiner had me drive back to the license office.  I shook the whole way.  When I pulled into a parking space in front of the office, I got out and got in the passenger seat.  I started crying as soon as I shut the door. My instructor told me not to worry about failing. He assured me we would try again in a week or so, at a different license office.
This is about my speed when it comes to all things driving.

True to his word, a week later we went to a different driver’s license place in Fort Lauderdale. This time I got a youngish, around 30, man. Since this office was smaller than the other one, the actual driving test took place on neighborhood streets rather than a driving course.  So, there were no poles when I had to parallel park.  There were also no other cars because everyone in the neighborhood parked in their driveways.  Parallel parking was easy with nothing to hit.

After I aced parallel parking, I did a crappy, off road three-point turn. The examiner still passed me in spite of that turn. He even had “safe driver” added to my license.  Honestly, I think he just had a creepy grown man crush on me.  During the test, he told me I was pretty.  He also asked if I had a boyfriend.  I didn’t say anything about that to my driving instructor or my parents.  I was just so happy to have my license, and to not have to parallel park ever again.

Since that day, I have not parallel parked unless there were no cars on either side and I could just pull in.  Whenever I make plans with friends, I tell them to pick a place with “real parking.” If all else fails, I valet park or park really far away. I hear there are cars that can parallel park for you. Until I have one of those, I won’t be attempting any street parking when there are actual cars parked within a block.

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