The other day I spent nearly 30 minutes driving around my block searching for a parking spot. I could have been home spending quality time with the family (though my wife would be quick to quip, “who are you kidding?” and “what family are you talking about?”), however, I was stuck in my minivan frantically competing against other equally annoyed drivers in the quest for the Holy Grail, an available parking spot.
Such is life in Brooklyn.
After living in New York City for 15 years, though, I’m nearly immune to the insanity of parking a car in the city. I’ve been cursed at, cutoff, and challenged to a fight—and those were just the female drivers. Nothing fazes me anymore.
I’m not going to lie, though, it used to annoy me to no end. I jealously cursed small car owners. I even snarled at small kids in electric Barbie cars. “They can park anywhere they like.” But now I just take it all in stride; I let my wife park the car.
My disdain for parking on the street stems from growing up in the suburbs where I never had to do it. My parents had a driveway that could fit about 5 cars—yet I still managed to crash into the lamppost. Every store had its own parking lot. In fact, I thought parallel parking was urban legend; you only did it on the road test then, once you had your license, you never had to do it again.
Unfortunately, when I moved to the city I found that wasn’t the case. And unlike Long Island, pedestrians in the city don’t move out of your way. Ever.
I wasn’t prepared.
My father tried to teach me how to parallel park, but I never quite got the hang of it. I didn’t give up, though. I continually badgered him to take me driving, and he grudgingly obliged—probably due to threats from my Mother to withhold dinner. Nonetheless, each time we came back more frustrated than the previous. Things became so frustrating that my father would only let me drive in the church parking lot. I thought it was because it was an easy, wide-open space to learn how to drive and park. Looking back, I think he wanted some divine intervention for my driving skills. (That would explain why he continually said “Jesus Christ,” while shaking his head.)
However, on the morning of my road test God must have been listening. While practicing parallel parking, I finally did it right.
“Okay, Dad. You can open your eyes now.”
Actually, his eyes were wide open as he was waiting to see if I’d hit the lamppost again (or the cat). But that didn’t happen this time.
Later that day, with a renewed confidence, I nailed the parallel park on my road test. Thankfully, the man who administered the road test chose a parking spot in which an 18-wheeler could parallel park. Maybe he spoke to my father. Regardless, I passed my road test.
I believe in karma—or more appropriately, payback—and know one day I’ll be pulling out my hair teaching my kids how to park and drive a car. However, I’m hoping technology will make my job easier. There are now cars that park for you and automakers are even trying to develop cars with auto-pilot. If that doesn’t work, I’ll be heading to the nearest church parking lot.
Copyright © 2010, Brad Manzo