{19/02/2012}   Parallel Parking

I disgraced myself yesterday at the wheel of my car in an attempt to parallel park.  Quiet road, decent sized space, patient passenger, power-assisted steering … I just couldn’t parallel park.  I can’t even blame parking rage because I was very calm, aided by my very patient passenger Angela.  You know it’s not going well when you think that mounting the curb could remedy an already dire situation.  I did that.  On three attempts.  Despite Angela mildly suggesting that might not work.  I left the space to try again about 12 plus times.  The car overheated.  Angela suggested doing a U-ey to try from the other way.  I believe it only took three attempts from that side before I got in, parking perfectly.  Poor car had that hot, tired smell.  I don’t know what went wrong.

I am convinced it went wrong when I saw the space, questioned whether I could fit into it, convinced myself I couldn’t, then tried (albeit that I was going in at such an angle that there never was a hope I’d park).  It became clear early on that I would fit in.  But I think my mindset was skewed.

I decided to have a look online – actually I only typed in “parallel parking” as I was struggling with the spelling of parallel because it always looks wrong.  I found the following video clip taken from a CCTV camera in Brooklyn.  This man would’ve laughed maniacally and whizzed straight into my space yesterday as I pulled out of it to start yet again.  This clip is the ultimate Austin Powers 25-point-turn!!!

Unsurprisingly, I then found quite a few parallel parking games.  Most are rubbish but the one I’m going to link below uses the up and down cursor keys and once you disassociate the direction of the keys with the direction of the car, it works quite well.  I am practising in the hope it will translate into better parking on my part.  But I don’t usually have a problem with parallel parking, honestly!  In fact, if anything I’m a bit of a perfectionist.  I usually get in ok, then spend too long getting completely straight and a “perfect” distance from the curb.

So here’s the game:

My favourite parallel parking moment was last year.  I was driving my mum’s car, with my mum as passenger.  Whenever she’s parked on a road, she’s never managed to fold her wing mirror in.  I’d tried too and couldn’t get it to fold in.  We’d been driving a few hours and had decided to stop in the busy town we were approaching.  The roads were in slight chaos as the A-road through the town was closed so all main road traffic was having to divert through housing estates and roads not designed for a lot of traffic, including buses and lorries.  Coming down the hill, we spotted a few parking spaces on the opposite side of the road.  We were in the midst of a stream of traffic, going at least 30mph down the hill.  I saw the road ahead, ie coming up the hill towards us, was clear, so I signalled, pulled up and reverse parallel parked in one smooth, impressive manouvre (the pressure works!).  Mum got out the car to check all was ok but as the road was both busy and only just ok for two lanes of fat vehicules, we decided it’d be better to get right in to the curb ( I would say I was perfectly parked for normal conditions).  A bit of toing and froing later and we were parked.  I was quite pleased with myself as it happens!  To cross the road I squeezed in front of the car waiting for an opportunity to cross.  Mum had to wait behind me.  As I was waiting, I noticed that all other cars had wisely put their wing mirrors in.  I said to mum that I’d have to at least try.  So when that side of the road came clear, I had a quick and really quite persuasive push on the mirror.  But it wouldn’t budge.  A car was heading up the hill so I quickly retreated to where I’d been waiting to cross.  I am pretty sure the driver would’ve seen that I was trying to sort the wing mirror.  The car came past a second later and with her wing mirror, she hit mum’s wing mirror and snapped it shut!

et cetera