I have little patience for things I’m horrible at. Maybe this is just human, but I think I’m worse about this than a lot of people. Examples: because I started out a “slow” kid in P.E., I never really bothered trying to improve. Shuttle Run for the Presidential Fitness Test? Meh… Playing clarinet? I couldn’t make a sound on the first day, so I decided it wasn’t for me. When I was ten.
Anyway, it’s not an admirable quality, and it’s something I’m at least a little better at (or maybe I encounter fewer things I’m sucky at because it’s easier as an adult to avoid things like shuttle runs and clarinets).
There are exceptions, though — things I’ve been miserable at that I had no choice but to stick with. Parallel parking is an exception.
I learned to drive in a town that doesn’t really have much parallel parking — if you ever can’t find a diagonal spot, you can probably pull forward into a parallel space or find a lot. And then I went to college, and for the most part I stuck around campus for the first couple of years, parking in their copper-plated lots (yes, copper-plated — they are pretty into copper as an architectural detail on all new structures, including parking garages). But eventually I started venturing out into the city more, and was faced with the horror of parallel parking.
The most memorable (horrible) instance was in 2001 or so, when my friend Jenny and I (and I think my sister Jenny, too), went to see Weezer at the Fillmore (which felt very urban and scary and cool!). Jenny (friend, not sister) offered to drive her Buick, but I reasoned that my Geo Metro was smaller and would be easier to park. Of course when we got downtown, I realized that even a small car is unparkable if you don’t know how to parallel park. And having a friend in the car who has some parking expertise doesn’t help anything at all if she can’t drive a manual and that’s what needs to be parked. It was rough. There was laughing, frustration, and plenty of humiliation. I don’t think I’ve completely lived it down.
But what I did do was get really freaking good at parallel parking. For a few years I had trouble doing it if someone was in the car, but not anymore (or rarely). Now (not to brag or anything) I’m kind of a rockstar at it. I have a little bit of trouble parking on the left side of a one-way, but even that is pretty doable. I only need about a foot of clearance (total!) on most good days. Today was a good day.