Friday, March 10, 2017

A Parallel Universe

Photo: Pixabay. Used under Creative Commons CC0 license.

A Parallel Universe

Jennifer E. Miller

The parallel universe. It exists here on Earth when we maneuver and twist vehicles into tight narrow spaces. What did you think I was talking about?

To teenagers, parallel parking is the dreaded step of the driver’s license test. Reverse, got it. Red light, green light, psssssssh! gimme somethin’ hard! Turn signal, yep. Change lanes, like a boss! Imaginary emergency vehicle, no worries, just pull to the right. Park between two cars, say what?! The testee suggests skipping that as it could put them and the evaluator in serious danger. Bad news. The testee won’t pass.

Of course, we have all been there and vow never to find a need to actually parallel park in real life. Venture in town and your passenger will point out various vacant spaces to squeeze into. Each one is too tight, too dirty, or deemed unsafe by the parallelparkaphobian driver. There isn’t a spot in sight with minimum two car lengths where the vehicle can simply be pulled forward into place. After driving around aimlessly for an undetermined amount of time, the passenger relinquishes cash from his or her wallet, and offers to pay for parking by yelling at you to find a parking lot already.

Years go by, avoiding the bumper to bumper parking situation. Until one day. One fateful day. That day the devil shows his rotten face. You drive around looking for a parking spot at a crowded outdoor venue. All the parking lots display signs with the words “lot full, you’re S.O.L.” There is nothing available unless you count the spaces approximately 8.12 miles away, by which time the said event will be over when you finally reach it on foot, dry heaving of exhaustion. Then, an unknown force steers your wheel in its direction. Your heart pounds as you arrive at…a damned spot nestled between two cars.

Easing the car next to the gaping hole in the road, you let the engine chug as you stare at it, wondering why the world has turned on you. The excitement of attending the (insert chosen event) are beginning to fade. Being this is the sole spot to park, you have no other choice but to face your fear.

To psyche yourself up, you remind yourself that if all your friends can do it, you can too! A confident voice in your head is cheering you on; it’s just parking the car. There’s not need to worry about getting sucked into a black hole into a parallel universe. Well, not that kind of parallel universe.

The decision is made. You attempt your first real parallel parking feat! Now to remember what the hell to do.

Pull car forward so back end is slightly in front of parking spot. Shift to reverse and glide vehicle backwards, turning wheel to angle into parking spot. Bounce shoulders with glee because you are living on the edge and you like it! Hit the car located in the front. Edge-living feeling shuts down. Let out a few expletives while pulling car forward again to the beginning position. Shift to park and remove self from car to inspect damage. Utter another set of expletives as you realize the car is a Porsche. Damage includes a quarter sized dent in the gilded sports car’s bumper. Nothing a rich owner can’t fix themselves. They are probably used to it. Reenter vehicle. On to parking attempt number two.

This time a collision course with another metal contraption is successfully avoided. Once the vehicle is angled properly crank wheel in the opposite direction. To a newbie, this is done after the car is brought to a halt, so the tires are heard scraping against the pavement as they swivel. Remove foot from brake and continue easing vehicle in reverse, taking caution to line up with the sidewalk. It is helpful to use the side mirror. Finally, you’ve fit yourself into the grey area of Universe de Parallel! As you commend yourself for successfully defeating your worse fear, you feel a bump from behind you. Note to self: don’t forget to press on the brake as you sing I am the Champion…of the Woooorld because it’s possible to forget there is a second parked car behind you.

More cursing ensues as you inch the vehicle forward, exit vehicle, and inspect damage to the rear car. It’s an old large farm pickup with multiple dents. The owners won’t notice another one. You, however, notice a new scratch on your bumper. Practice more French.

Mentally set mishap(s) aside, turn off engine, and examine the parking area. Within eighteen inches from curb. Check. Two to three feet between front and back cars. Mmmm….close enough. Blinking red parking meter…check. Oh wait, better insert some coins.

As the coins rattle their way down the meter paying chute, you take a step backwards with hands on hips, and admire your newly acquired skills. Shuffle a little happy dance and move along towards (insert chosen event again).

You are now an expert parallel parker. An unstoppable automotive superhero. Next time you go into a crowded parking world you take a friend, who hasn’t ridden with you before, intending to impress them with your skills. Casually tell your new friend to watch you in action. Effortlessly, you park without a hitch and brag just a tiny bit. Then, as if daunting your handiwork, your friend says, “Nice. I just look for a space large enough to pull into.”

Copyright 2017, Jennifer E. Miller

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