Wednesday, February 24, 2010

My humiliating moment of the day

Yet another car-related one, big surprise.

I was trying to parallel park the car on a hill -- a challenge I might've avoided under different circumstances, but it was a big spot, the street was quiet, and no one was around.  In the past couple of weeks, my driving has gotten much better:  I almost never stall even with all the stop and go traffic around here, I can get the car into and out of our tiny garage with ease, I shift at the right time without grinding gears, and I don't hyperventilate anymore -- except on hills.  This is my biggest challenge.  So, when I saw this chance to practice without anyone around, I jumped at it.

I pulled up next to the the car in front, took a deep breath, and got ready to back into the spot.  The nose of the car was pointing downhill, so of course when I started backing into the spot, I rolled forward..and panicked and stalled the car.  Unfazed, I restarted the car and tried again...and overcompensated and gave it too much gas, nearly taking out the street sign...and then stalled, again.  Still unfazed, I pulled out and tried one more time.  This time, I did fine, only rolled forward a little and reversed without stalling.  But my angle was wrong and I ended up too far on the sidewalk (everyone here parks on the sidewalk, but this was a bit too far, like nearly on the boulangerie's doorstep).

I pulled out one more time, and this time thought I'd experiment with using the parking brake to keep me from rolling forward -- something I haven't yet mastered.  Well, I still don't have it:  I stalled the car yet again.  Restarted and tried one more time.  Now I thought I'd experiment with letting the clutch out to the point where the car starts to shake before moving my foot from the brake to the gas, thinking I might be able to get moving a little faster this way.  I did -- way faster than I expected, causing me to nearly take out the street sign again, panic and stall the car one more time.  Confident that I had it now, I restarted the car, and backed into the parking spot perfectly without rolling forward at all.

Feeling triumphant, I started to get out of the car -- and noticed a group of men standing around, laughing and pointing.    I had been so engaged with my task, I didn't even see them before.  Hoping they'd go away, I sat in the car a minute or two, digging through my purse and trying to look busy.  But they didn't.  In fact, they called over another friend and pointed me out to him.  Since I was now nearly late to pick up the kids, I had no choice but to get out and face the crowd.  As I got out, they burst into a loud round of applause, complete with whistling and cheering.

What else could I do but take a bow, then walk away with my face blazing, hoping that they'd have dispersed by the time I got back to the car with the kids.


  1. thanks for the chuckle. While embarrassing at the time, it makes a good story that I'm sure you'll get good mileage out of for a long time.

  2. Oh my goodness!!!! At least with embarrassing moments in a foreign country you can think, "It's OK, I'll NEVER see these people again!" and mean it :)

  3. Thanks. I still blush when I think about this one. I parked near the same spot today (but not on quite as much of a slope) and I admit I scanned the area for those men. If they'd have been there, I would've kept right on going and parked somewhere else!

  4. That's funny. Poor you. But your parking will get better. If we ever catch up, I will show you the tricks The Spouse taught me for fool-proof parallel parking! I nail it almost every time. But on a hill is challenging. Sometimes I just put in the clutch and let the car roll a little . . .

  5. Once, Before Kids, I was driving in Spain in a teeny-tiny town. One street was so narrow it not only required a 3-point turn, but pulling in the mirrors. On day I got stuck and went into the Tabac right there and handed my keys to the kid running the cash register and told him I needed him to move my car. He was rather surprised, but he did it for me.