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The Shame Of Failing A Reverse Parallel Park

There’s a lot of situations that unsettle me. For example, delivering a five minute oral presentation in your fourth year of university with your fly undone. Or having a moderately strong female volleyball player beat you in an arm wrestle at your local gym. Or failing to execute a parallel park with your first date in the car. Or failing to execute a parallel park in front of anyone, ever.

No matter how much of a wizard you consider yourself to be, parallel parks can go wayward from time to time. Of all the driving maneuvers – the hill start, the lane-way reverse, the narrow entry – it is the hardest to pull off. Though for a capable driver, it’s by no means a challenge. It is simply testing, and therein lies its evil: it is not hard enough to justify your failure, though it’s certainly enough to keep you on your toes.

Failing a parallel park comes in three primary stages, with an optional forth.

The Blissful Entry
“I’ve got this,” you tell yourself. You’ve done it countless times before, and there’s only four people, your girlfriend, ex girlfriend and two sisters watching. There’s no way you’re going to mount the gutter and embarrass yourself, and it helps that you’ve perfectly lined up your side mirror with the wheel of the car you’re reversing behind. Just like the driving instructor taught you eight years ago. What a great start. In we go!

The Realisation
This stage comes in many forms. It can be as subtle as the curb seeming too far away, or as abrupt as your wheel rolling into it. Though no matter how extreme your realisation of failure is, your next thought will always be the same: I can fix this. No, you can’t. And you won’t. With each yank of the steering wheel, and every inching forward and backward, you will only prolong your inevitable demise. You are fucked, dear friend, and everyone is laughing at you.

The Getaway
The drinker will rarely admit that failure is a sour brew. “There’s another park just around the corner,” you tell yourself, playing down the gut-wrenching feeling of a swing and a miss. “It was a tight fit to begin with,” and “You win some you lose some,” are just water on the burns of a missed opportunity, and a reminder that one can never get too cocky when pulling a reverse parallel. At this point, you need to flee the scene. Run. Never return. Go to a different suburb. It’s safer there.

Though some people don’t run.

The Second Attempt
The stubborn amongst us will reverse out entirely, and reattempt the failed park. Ignoring all warning signs, the second attempt will be done with heightened caution and lowered confidence. And like all sequels, more often than not, it will be less successful than the first. On top of this, the added burden of two failures will play on your conscience all the way to your new car park, which is hopefully out of eyesight from the first.

However, if you’re gutsy enough to go for the second attempt – or the third, forth, perhaps fifth – pulling off such a feat brings about great reward, and asserts your dominance in the parking realm.

The Housemates: