Parallel Parking Is A Skill I Don’t Have, And I'm Not Alone

by Sara Farrell Baker
Originally Published: 
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Taking a deep breath, I got into the car and closed the door. I buckled my seatbelt before placing my hands on the steering wheel at 10 and 2. Turning to the man in the passenger seat, I laid my cards on the table.

“My mom and her friend and my boyfriend and two of his friends spent all day yesterday teaching me to parallel park,” I said. “I can’t do it. But I promise to never try it again for the rest of my life after I pass this test.”

Probably not what a driving instructor wants to hear when you get behind the wheel. But there was no getting around it. I knew I was a good driver in all aspects except parallel parking. Regular parking? Champion. But if I try to cut and turn myself sideways into a space, no matter what I do, disaster ensues.

So I threw myself at the mercy of my driving instructor in a Hail Mary attempt at walking away from the DMV with my license. And he nodded. He nodded. What the hell did that nod even mean??

With even more anxiety because who the hell fucking nods to an admission like that, I took my test. I signaled. I didn’t jerk us forward at every stop sign. I looked both ways. I made the three-point turn my three-point bitch. And as the test came to a close, I prepared to flunk it all.

“Back up. Cut your wheel. Straighten out. Stop. Good.”

At least, I think that’s what he said. I still don’t know the actual steps involved because he passed me and I kept my fucking promise.

I have been a licensed driver for thirteen years. And I have probably parallel parked less than five times. Notice I didn’t say that I have successfully parallel parked. Only truth telling over here.

Whenever it is at all humanly possible, I avoid parallel parking like it’s an eager beaver PTA mom. I do not have time for that shit. When I was on my way to a friend’s apartment for a visit, he called me excitedly to tell me there was a parking spot right outside his place and that he was standing in it to save it for me. As I approached and saw that he was standing in a parallel spot, I waved him off and drove a mile away to find a parking garage. The 20-minute walk was entirely worth it. I would have walked it uphill both ways.

Driving around looking for street parking wastes gas. It increases congestion on the roads. I am doing the environment and the public a service by not even trying. When I do try, I always wind up with an audience. WHY DOES EVERYONE HAVE TO STOP AND WATCH ME?? They’re making it worse. It’s the closest thing I can compare to dudes getting performance anxiety. I once tried to parallel park outside of a restaurant. It took several minutes and when I finally stepped out of my poorly-parked vehicle, the customers dining outside clapped. They fucking clapped.

I took a bow. Whatever. I earned the shit out of that applause with all my tiny turns.

There ain’t no shame in my inability to parallel park game. Sign me up for whatever self-driving or flying car models become moderately affordable to the average person one day. The only box it needs to check off is “Can it parallel park for me?” I care about literally nothing else. It can get 3 miles to the gallon and I’ll feel a little bad about that, but not bad enough to continue parallel parking my own car like a sucker.

Just let me live in peace free from the anxiety of street parking so I can die with a little dignity one day. Pretty please.

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