Unparalleled Parking


I’ve never parallel parked a Prius, but watching the young man struggle to do so the other day was just as perplexing for me as it must’ve been for him.  

It’s such a tiny car; like a micro machine, I thought to myself.  The only way it could take this long is if he was 11 years old and borrowed the car from his eco-friendly neighbor on condition that he bring home organic avocados from the Farmer’s Market.  

If you insist on owning a car in the city, you should know how to park said car in the city.

Admittedly, I’m not proud of the fact that I wasted 11 minutes watching him struggle.  Hey, it would’ve been far more emasculating for him had I offered my assistance, given the fact that his girlfriend was in the car.  I imagine the conversation going something like this:

Me (in a deep baritone voice): “Hey, little fella.  Want me to park your car for you?”

Him (in a high-pitched, sorrowful voice): “Uh, no mister, that’s okay.”

His Girlfriend (in one of those sweet southern voices): “Let the Generation-X hunk of a man park your tiny little car, Tyler.  His rugged masculinity would allow us to get to Vegan Festival on time.”

See?  Totally awkward.

I’m also not proud of the fact that, while he was struggling to park his tiny car, I ran to the arts and crafts store across the street, where I purchased a sharpie and a giant poster board.  Nor was I proud of my behavior when I drew a giant “3.2” on the poster board and held it up as Tyler was finally able to park his big rig.

So what if I had nothing better to do with myself than to watch another human being struggle to park a minuscule car into a spot that itself wasn’t minuscule.  It was either that or go to the gym.

The length of a Prius is 175.6 inches.  The width is 68.7 inches. For comparison’s sake, my 2012 Toyota Highlander comes in at 188.4 inches, with a width of 75.2 inches.  Now, that may not seem like a major difference, but it is. Men take their inches very seriously. Every millimeter counts. It stands to reason that if I can easily parallel park my larger vehicle, then parking Tyler’s tiny-mobile would be easier.  And, not to brag, but I can parallel park the crap out of my vehicle.

Ask me about that time, back in 1998, when I parallel parked between a dump truck on one side and an enormous sinkhole on the other, all while a raging blizzard was dumping copious amounts of snow upon us.  It was so legendary that the valet who witnessed the event gave me a round of applause. 

As I watched the sad events of Tyler’s tribulations unfold in front of me, I began to feel despondent.  Not sadness for the parking struggles of one young man. No, that was hilarious. I began to feel sad for the state of humanity I was leaving behind for my kids.  By the time they’re of age to parallel park, they won’t need to. The car will do it for them; much like Tyler wishes his car would’ve done for him last week. Have we lost all of our resourcefulness?  

It’s not simply a byproduct of generational talents either.  Parallel parking transcends generations. Or, at least it should.  My 72-year-old father-in-law can park his Prius with ease. I’ve witnessed it.  He could probably parallel park an 18-wheeler into a mini-fridge before Iron Butterfly breaks into the third “da, da, da, da da da, da” of “In A Gadda Da Vida,” blaring through the vehicles speakers. 

By all accounts, Tyler seemed like a smart guy, at least from behind the windshield of the car on the other side of the street I was judging him from.  Perhaps his inability to parallel park his car isn’t a reflection of what he is incapable of, but rather, it reflects the cynicism life puts on you as you grow older.  If that’s the case, I owe Tyler an apology.

I owe him one.  I didn’t say I’d give him one.

3 thoughts on “Unparalleled Parking”

  1. For what it’s worth, I’ve been driving for almost 30 years, and it would take me a while to wiggle into a parallel parking spot. I try to avoid it, if at all possible. I did successfully teach my older kid how to parallel park for her driver’s test, though.


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