You Wouldn’t Know It From Reading This Blog, But…Posted: June 15, 2011
A long time ago I taught my son that most people who spend time telling others how good they are at something are not as good as they say. Talented people have no need for talk about their abilities. They just hone their skills to the point that they are apparent to all. The need to brag raises questions about how capable the braggart is. I’m proud to say that my son seems to live without bragging. I’m telling you this so I can be honest and say that today I am breaking my rule.
There is no one who is better at parallel parking than me. I am the King of Parallel Parking.
The Boy Who Would Be King.
When I was of age to start thinking about getting my driver’s license, there was a lot of talk about how tough the parallel parking portion of the driver’s test was. I knew several people who came back from the Department Of Motor Vehicles without receiving their license. I was determined not to suffer the indignity of being denied my driving privilege.
Knowing that people who flunked the test were doing so on that particular part of the test, I went to work to make sure I didn’t make the same mistake. I got my parents to take me out to practice. When they tired of watching me park over and over, they set up a practice spot for me on the street in front of our house. I spent hours circling the block and backing into my broomstick delineated parking spot. I parked over and over, until the neighbors called my folks and asked them to teach me the way out of the neighborhood.
When I took my driver’s test I swung the car into the parallel parking spot with ease and then threw it into park. The examiner opened his door, looked down at the curb and nodded. I’d passed.
It’s Good To Be The King, Mostly
So what does being the best at parallel parking get me? It is really a blessing and a curse. I can drop my car into a tight street parking space. I get to park in places people without my gift have to pass by. Being able to take those spots helps me get places fast.
My passengers never have to step in the curbside gutter. My car is typically so close to the curb that they step right up onto the sidewalk. No awkward tripping or wet feet for people who ride with me. They appreciate that and seem to respect the level of commitment it took to bring my talent to the level I’m able to display today.
But it is other people’s reactions that are the dark side of having taken the time to hone the ability that I was born with. Sometimes I lose the time I have gained with my parking skill because I have to stop and talk to bystanders. There have been occasional crowd control issues.
The thing that is the most troubling is deeper than a few moments lost to fans. I live with a tremendous burden of guilt because of the damage I know seeing how well parallel parking can be done has to the relationships of others. There have been times when I have parked, gotten out of my car and heard arguments start between couples after one of them says something like “why don’t you park like that?” or “if you’d pulled right up to the curb I wouldn’t have a wet foot”. I don’t mean to bring other people difficulty through what I do. It is an unintended consequence and one I don’t think I can help. I feel awful when it happens.
There are trade offs with anything a person does. Being the best there is at parallel parking isn’t an exception. Yes, I probably could park an oil tanker, but I always have to keep in mind what the effect of that act would be on the people around me.
I am such a tortured artist.
And it still isn’t cool to brag.