Because This Is My Life: Parallel Parking




Otherwise entitled: How to humiliate yourself in front of everyone. All of the time.

Introductory Information:

I do not know how to parallel park. I sometimes forget that I don't know how to parallel park. During Drivers' Education, my teacher told me that if I ever needed to parallel park, I should just drive around and find somewhere else to park. These instructions have served me well enough over the years.

Secondary Information:

I deal with university professors on a regular basis. I would rather stab myself with a fork than drive, park, or be anywhere near university campus while school is in session. There is always construction and students milling across the street, smug in the knowledge that they have the right of way. Parking is hard to find and costly.

The story:

One of my clients informed me that she had reserved a departmental parking pass for me for our meeting at her office on campus. I, of course, ran into problems trying to get to her office because of ongoing construction and traffic congestion on campus.  I ended up taking the long way around campus and as a result, by the time I arrived in the general area of her office I was already in no mood for further complications.

But there were further complications.

The spot that she had reserved required me to parallel park. Or rather, attempt to parallel park while she stood on the curb and impatiently watched me.  After several poor parallel parking attempts on my part, she flung the parking pass at me and told me she would meet me in her office.

Added bonus: There were also several hundred milling students in the vicinity to watch this all unfold. 

I attempted to parallel park in the spot a few more times before, in a haze of shame and embarrassment, I decided to drive forward and see if there were any easier spaces to park in. Of course, there were not!  Also, of course, it was a one-way street that would require making a 10-minute loop back around the giant congested, construction-riddled campus to get back to the original shame-inducing parking spot. I decided, instead, to just park in the nearest parking garage.  Unfortunately, the nearest parking garage from me at the time of that decision was several blocks from my client's office. Easily a walk of five minutes or more.

But at least the walk gave me time to prepare my explanation for why I had not just parked in the spot DIRECTLY in front of her office that she had gone to special effort to save for me. The path was clear. I would have to, in the most charming, self-deprecating way possible, acknowledge that I was, without a doubt, the biggest loser to ever get behind the wheel of a car.

By the time I arrived at my client's office (sweating and huffing and puffing), she was standing outside looking for me because she was concerned that perhaps I had gotten into an accident. I launched into the most nonchalant version of "I can not parallel park, shame on me!" that I could muster. It included references to wide open spaces, farm life, and park anywhere mentality. It was.....humiliating. Have I mentioned humiliating in this post yet? Because, really, it can not be mentioned enough. HUMILIATING!  As an added bonus it was not just her there, but also a prospective client that she had invited to join us. I can not even begin to tell you how thrilling that was! And by thrilling, I mean humiliating.

That's enough, right? No. No, it is no.

As I exited the meeting, I realized that I had misplaced my debit card the previous day.  Now my car was not safely ensconced in a parallel parking free parking garage, it was held hostage there.  Without my debit card,  I had not the funds to free it. This forced me to call my office and beg an intern to please come rescue me. Happily, the intern quickly showed up with enough funds to free my vehicle, I got back to work, and later that night found my debit card. All is well that ends well. Except...

The greatest injustice.

The greatest injustice is that after the intern brought me money and I was able to pay for my parking and head towards the exit of the parking garage, I was unable to laugh at the moron trying to exit the parking garage ahead of me. She could not figure out how to get the gate to come up and allow her to exit despite the numerous signs that very simply stated the procedure.  And despite what she seemed to think, the procedure was not to pull way past the place where you insert your ticket, stick your arm out the window, wildly wave the ticket around, and hope for the best. No, seriously, that is what she was doing. But who was I to laugh at her?  I can't even parallel park.