Years ago I remember reading an article written by a local columnist who lamented about the natural inclination that some men have to “help” a woman when she’s trying to park her car in a confined space. Her beef was with the fact that as soon as she drew up alongside a car to begin the process of parallel parking, some helpful male soul decides to stop whatever he’s doing in order to direct her progress.
She also expressed her concern with the fact that based purely on such examples, her still wet-behind-the-ears son, who obviously couldn’t drive and didn’t know anything about rules of the road was beginning to think that he had better driving skills than she did without ever having left his booster seat.
I knew then, and still know what she’s talking about. Whenever I have to back in to a space, I check to make sure that no male character is around. When I think the coast is clear, I start to make my initial turn which is always way too deep – and my assistant appears from out of nowhere.
“Take that out, take that out” he commands in as loud a voice as he can muster – because everyone else must know that another hopeless female driver is being helped. And on cue, other people are looking around to see what all the commotion is about. I pull out of the space to try again. By this time, he’s donned his white gloves (the better for me to see him) and taken up residence outside the window of my car (the better for me to hear him).
I put my window up (the better for me to ignore him), and turn the radio down because I don’t need the added distraction when I’m trying not to set off somebody’s car alarm. I pray that my second attempt is better than my first and that I fit reasonably well into the space – since that’s the only way I’ll be rid of him. Failing that, he’ll knock on my window in an effort to get me to turn it down so that I can actually hear the directions he’s giving me.
On my last foray, I kept my window down, smiled sweetly and thanked him for his assistance but it was clear to him that I was taking my own counsel. He smiled back, but I could tell that he was just waiting for me to bump one of the cars (or both), or get frustrated and abandon my efforts altogether – which is always an option.
Two weeks ago, I stepped out of my parked car to run an errand. When I returned, my children couldn’t wait to tell me about a driver who had been trying to park in a tight spot across the road from us. Apparently the driver went back and forth around fifteen times before he came to a rest halfway out in the road having lost some bumper paint in the process.
The kids were killing themselves with laughter because the driver had provided quite a show. I asked whether anyone had tried to assist, to which they replied “no”. I wondered why nobody had sought to direct this individual who clearly could have used the help. However, the answer became immediately obvious when they told me that the driver was a man.