Why Can’t I Park my Car?
Is it just me, or are there other women who can’t park their cars? Also, Why do men get a kick out of watching women trying to squeeze their big cars into small spaces? I’ve lost count of the times my male friends bragged that “a woman can’t park to save her life”.
We may not be the best at parking, but we are experts at multitasking. Don’t you just love the way some of us are able to drive, while applying mascara and lipstick without smudging it? On top of that, according to research women have fewer accidents than men.
I passed my driving test eleven years ago. The first car I bought was a Nissan Micra. I suppose you could call me a ‘safe’ person when it comes to driving. I had lessons in a Micra and I didn’t feel adventurous enough to drive anything else. The thought of driving a bigger car scared me.
Anyway, small cars are a breeze to park.
Or are they?
Ace at Parking…
My driving instructor was great. He told me I was excellent at parking. That was music to my ears. It didn’t take long to master reverse or parallel parking. I couldn’t wait to pass my driving test.
Finally, after four frustrating attempts, I eventually passed my driving test in January 2000. I wasn’t working at the time, so I couldn’t afford to buy my dream car. I waited patiently for five months before I got the money together.
I bought the car that I’d longed for. I was the proud owner of a grey Nissan Micra. I was excited and happy with my little car. I even stuck a ‘Future Millionaire’ sticker on the rear window for the world to see. She was my baby.
To be honest, I was a bit rusty. I hadn’t driven in five months. I desperately tried to master the reverse parking, but I couldn’t remember the sequence.
I didn’t want people to know that I was a new driver, so I pretended. I drove around looking for the biggest parking space to park my little car. My daughters thought I was losing the plot. Sometimes, I’d park the car a good ten minute walk away from our destination. Wherever there was a big space, that’s where I’d park my car.
I remember driving into an Iceland car park one Saturday to do some shopping. There was only one empty parking space left. It was a nice size space. ‘Just what I need!’ I thought to myself. I stopped my car nearby to do some mental calculations in my head. While I was trying to figure out whether to drive forward or reverse in, a man pulled up in his car. He totally ignored me and boldly drove into the space.
I sat in my car angry, embarrassed and shocked.
I could have shouted at him. But I kept my cool. I calmly drove out of the car park, hoping that no one was watching me.
Getting it Right?
A few weeks later, I gave my daughter a lift to work. I pulled into the tiniest space ever. I knew straight away that it was a big mistake. But it was too late.
My car lodged itself between a wall and a cement bollard. Even my small Micra had to struggle to get through the gap. In the process of trying to park, it seemed like the space had shrunk. As I drove in further, I heard a crashing noise. My right-wing mirror smashed. I tried to reverse out, but misjudged the space. I smashed the driver’s door in the process.
To make matters worse, an old man stood there watching me. He was shaking his head in disbelief. I managed to pull my smashed car out of the tiny gap.
When my daughter came home from work that evening, she had some remarkable news for me. She laughed as she told me that the man who watched me trying to park, was the caretaker. Apparently, my parking technique had shocked him. He told my daughter that ‘I shouldn’t be allowed to drive on the road.’
Bigger cars with new parking challenges
A year later I felt confident enough to upgrade my car. I sold the Nissan Micra and bought a Volkswagen Polo. It was a slightly bigger car, which presented more parking challenges.
I drove to a nearby town one day with my daughter and a friend. I found a nice quiet road to park and spotted a lovely big space. I drove my car in with ease. But I was too far away from the pavement.
My daughter, who was sitting in the passenger seat behind me, had a fantastic idea. She opened the car door to direct me, as I reversed to get nearer to the kerb.
“Keep coming back mum. You’ve got plenty of room.” Suddenly, there was a loud crunching noise. Neither of us had noticed the lamp-post on the side of the pavement.
The result? A massive dent in the back passenger door of my new car.
My latest car is a BMW 3Series. So, my cars got bigger, but did my parking improve? Well, judging from my wheel rims, I guess the answer is no.
I am still driving around looking for extra big spaces to fit in my BMW. My neighbours probably think I’m crazy. I’m sure they know when I arrive home. Surely they can hear my car revving as I drive backwards and forwards trying to park it?
The embarrassment is too much. I decided to do something about mastering my parking.
If you, like me, find parking a challenge, you may want to try the simple step-by-step instructions below. They were the same strategies that my driving instructor taught me. Let me know if it helps you in perfecting your parking.
Step-By-Step Guide: How to Parallel (Reverse) Park:
1. Drive slightly ahead of the car that you’re going to park behind. The gap between the two cars (side-by-side) should be about an arm’s length away. Stop your car and reverse back.
2. Next, make sure that your left door mirror is in line with the front bumper of the car you’re parking behind.
3. Look over your left shoulder. Reverse slowly until the back of the other car is visible in your back near side window.
4. Keep driving slowly and turn the steering wheel one turn to the left (360 degrees).
5. When your left door mirror is pointing towards the back off-side of the other car, turn the steering wheel two full turns to the right (720 degrees).
6. When the car is straight and parallel to the kerb, turn the steering wheel one turn to the left to straighten the wheel. Move forward or backward to place your car in the middle between the parked cars.
Tip: Remember the pattern used: one turn to the left, two turns to the right and one turn to the left. (1-2-1)
Have you mastered the art of parking? What tips can you share? I would love to hear them.
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