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The Fine Art Of Parallel Parking

Parallel parking
Flickr user: bwillen
A couple of weeks ago, we were talking about bad parking on the air. It led to a series of posts with user-submitted photos of awful park jobs from around New Jersey.

This weekend, my son and I went to an open house at Montclair State University. Afterward, we to a restaurant that was said to have one of the best burgers in the state. The restaurant, Next Door, is in an area of Montclair where nearly all the parking is on-street. After several trips around the block, a spot opened up on the street the restaurant is on, and I didn’t have to fight anyone for it. It was time to just park the car and go eat; the only way to park the car was by parallel parking with a car in front and a car behind. That’s no big deal, I’ve been driving for decades and used to be a pretty good parallel parker; I say “used to be” because after years in suburbia, I can’t remember the last time I had to parallel park.

With my seventeen year old who just passed his driving test, with parallel parking, two and a half weeks ago next to me, I proceeded to employ the method taught to me oh so many years ago. I pulled even with the car ahead of me and then backed up until my car was halfway past that car; I cut the wheel to put the back of the car into the spot, then reversed the wheel to bring the front end in. I then pulled forward to straighten out the car to complete the maneuver. We got out of the car and I went to admire my handiwork: I was a few inches off the bumper of the car in front of me and about two feet away from the car behind me; oh, and I was about two feet away from the curb, too. My parking job sucked, it was awful, it was embarrassing.

At least the guy in front of me was well off the curb, too, so I didn’t look that bad. Well, I didn’t look that bad until we came back and there was different car in front of me with its wheels tight to the curb, making my car look like it was halfway out in traffic. I hurriedly got behind the wheel before anyone could see me; unfortunately there was already a car waiting behind me for the spot and they got to see my terrible parking job in all its glory. So apparently parallel parking skills can atrophy with lack of use; I think I’ll go practice.

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