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Postby cfitz on Tue Nov 11, 2003 2:33 am

Well, yesterday I either did my good deed for the week or my obnoxious deed for the week. I haven't yet decided which.

I was taking an afternoon walk, enjoying the crisp autumn weather, and my meandering carried me past the local high school. There is a large, unused parking lot there that is popular with the 16-year olds for practicing driving skills in hopes of winning that magic ticket to adolescent freedom - the driver's license.

True to form, yesterday there was a young girl diligently perfecting her parallel parking while her father dispensed guidance and encouragement from the passenger seat. It was a touching demonstration of fatherly love and patience. Time after time she circled around, approached the parking space, and tried with all her might to neatly maneuver into the space. But being a neophyte, she hadn't yet mastered the technique and inevitably ended up a couple of feet from the curb. But that didn't deter Dad, who would give her a few coaching points and then gently spur her on to try again. What a lovely slice of Americana. Who would want to disturb it? Well, me, of course...

You see, the problem was that the technique she was practicing with such perseverance was, shall we say, somewhat lacking in the most basic of fundamentals. She was parking on the left side of the road, facing into traffic, with the curb next to the driver's door. Sure, that makes the task a good bit easier, but there is the little problem that parking against the flow of traffic is illegal in this state.

As I walked up the sidewalk toward the two I debated with myself whether or not I should butt in where my advice was so clearly needed yet also so clearly not wanted. I finally gave in to my meddling side and convinced myself that giving the young woman a fighting chance at passing her driver's examination more than offset the harm of embarrassing the father.

I strode into the parking lot, waved them down, and approached the father on the passenger side. He rolled down the window and I asked if, in fact, they were practicing parallel parking.

"Yes, we are" he replied.

Having confirmed my suspicions, I then informed them that "Parking on the left side of the road facing into traffic is illegal. You must park on the right side of the road with the curb against the passenger side of the car."

"But she is just practicing. There's no harm in that, is there?"

Apparently I must have been looking rather stern and official, and he thought I was getting ready to conduct a citizen's arrest right on the spot. I tried to reassure him that was not my intention.

"I understand that she is just practicing. But she is practicing the wrong thing. It is illegal to park on the left side of the road. You must park on the right side with the passenger side of the car against the curb. If the driving examiner asks her to parallel park and she pulls across the road into oncoming traffic to park on the left side of the road, she will fail her test right there. I'm sure you don't want that."

I then proceeded to demonstrate, as best as I could, with my hands. A glance back into the car to see if I had made my point was met with four blankly staring eyes. I waited a few seconds for a sign of comprehension, but the silence quickly became uncomfortable so I repeated the hand gestures and added some pointing to the actual passenger side of the car and the curb. Still no response, so I prodded for a reply. "Do you understand what I am saying?"

This was met with a terse "Yes" in reply.

"So you know what to practice now, right?"

Again, stony silence. This time I resolved to hold my ground, but a 10-second eternity later my resolve failed.

"Okay then. Well, you have a nice day, and good luck on your test."

I then beat a hasty retreat, watching from the corner of my eye to see if my words had actually sunken in. The car moved not an inch while I continued up the sidewalk, until I turned a corner about 100 yards out. At that point I paused to sneak a look from behind the cover of some shrubs and trees. Sure enough, as soon as I passed out of sight the car started forward again, but this time the new driver made an attempt to park properly. Apparently my words did not fall on deaf ears, but dad refused to acknowledge his mistake in my presence. Pride is a funny thing.

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Postby Ian on Tue Nov 11, 2003 2:36 am

The father had probably been parking illegally for years. :roll:
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Postby cfitz on Tue Nov 11, 2003 2:44 am

No doubt. Otherwise he wouldn't have been teaching her the wrong way. At least I hope he wouldn't...

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Postby CDRecorder on Tue Nov 11, 2003 5:05 am

Well, I think it was good to let them know that they were doing it wrong. I'm also glad that they took your advice, too. :)
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Postby tazdevl on Tue Nov 11, 2003 12:27 pm

Funny story. Have to be a parent to understand that one in terms of where the guy was coming from. Though no father wants to be wrong in their kid's eyes.

You are right... the test is on the right hand side, unless you live in a major city. Then it depends on whether or not you're on a one way street and the overall mood of the tester.

Edited because I made no sense and need coffee :P
Last edited by tazdevl on Tue Nov 11, 2003 1:11 pm, edited 4 times in total.
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Postby CowboySlim on Tue Nov 11, 2003 12:44 pm

Apparently my words did not fall on deaf ears, but dad refused to acknowledge his mistake in my presence. Pride is a funny thing.

Reminds me of too many people that I've come to know and not like.

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Postby dodecahedron on Tue Nov 11, 2003 7:28 pm

the car park i had to do in my driver's license test was on the LEFT side of the street (one way) and downhill - the most difficult kind of car park.

left side of the street - that's more difficult because most of the parkings are on the right side, so you get less practice for left-side parking.
the downhill part - that's especially difficult with manual transmission.

got it right though... :)
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Postby cfitz on Tue Nov 11, 2003 8:59 pm

Yes, tazdevl and dodecahedron, there are some circumstances (one-way streets as you both noted) where parallel parking on the left may be permitted or even required. But on the whole such situations are uncommon and for the sake of passing the driving examination, practicing on the right is the way to go (at least around here).

Dodecahedron, what did you do to annoy the examiner so? :wink:

My old 1987 Toyota Corolla had a manual transmission, but it was so small that I could often get it into places everyone else would pass by. I still remember the satisfaction I felt when I shoe-horned it into a space on the main street of a popular seaside town where it is notoriously difficult to find parking. The street slopes uphill, and I only had about a foot or so of clearance at either end, but I managed. Of course, with that little space it wasn't a "back it in and done" maneuver. It was back and forth, back and forth, working a little closer to the curb each time. And, of course, I had to tap the bumpers of the surrounding cars each time as well. But no harm was done and in the end I had my parking space. :)

Speaking of parallel parking on hills, I continue to be amazed by how few people cock the wheels when they finish. Even those who do bother often cock them the wrong way. And how much do you wish to bet that a lot of the people who don't cock the wheels also don't bother to set the parking break if the car has an automatic transmission or don't put the transmission in reverse if it has a manual transmission?

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Postby UALOneKPlus on Wed Nov 12, 2003 6:31 am

I just run over the cars in front and back with my Hummer!! just kidding :wink:

Parallel parking can be tricky, especially in rush hour.
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Postby cfitz on Wed Nov 12, 2003 11:33 am

UALOneKPlus wrote:I just run over the cars in front and back with my Hummer!! just kidding :wink:

I prefer the Cat 797B for this task - 3500 hp, 21 feet tall, 690 tons gross weight: :o


(that would be 2600 kW, 6.5 m tall, 620000 kg for those outside the USA)

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Postby JamieW on Wed Nov 12, 2003 1:54 pm

Next time use a lisp and ask the dad if he wants a lesson in "back seat parking."
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