Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Tuesday Tips for the Driving Impaired

Hi there!  Tara Mills again.

I always scramble to come up with something for blog posts. Tuesday tips can really send me into a spin. What can I possibly know that might actually be of some interest to people?  What am I confident about? Then it hit me. Oh yeah ... driving.

Don't get me wrong. I'm not suggesting that I'm a great driver, though I am a relatively safe one.  My kids have teased that an old lady could pass me.  Not so.  I've been known to put my foot down on occasion, usually when I'm afraid my bladder is going to burst. Yep, I've been pulled over for speeding a few times, never given a ticket -- even got a compliment once from an officer for actually getting my kid into his car seat properly.  Hey, I'm a blonde and I know how to use it.

I've earned a few tickets, but luckily, never had to pay one. Wait, once, but that was just a parking ticket.  My meter ran out near the hospital while I was delivering a baby upstairs.  Plugging a few extra quarters in that puppy was the last thing on my mind at the time and I don't think I would have let my husband go do it without causing him serious bodily harm.

So, what's the point of all this babbling?  Glad you asked.  I'm going to tell you my secrets for getting by with no road skills whatsoever. Are you ready?  And away we go!  Don't worry, I'm not driving.

First Rule: Note Landmarks.  I was born without an inner compass.  It's true. I think they skip generations. I still refer to north as up and south as down. East and west go without saying. I navigate by landmarks. Who has the time to read signs?  They don't help anyway.

We moved to a different city once and I had to find my way home from the store.  I got so lost -- ended up on the freeway.  Before every overpass I'd see these signs saying, to take the first exit for north, or the second exit for south. Not much help when you have no idea where you are.  So I drove, and drove, and drove. The groceries were warm before I finally found my way home. I did talk myself into turning back eventually, but I wasn't confident about it.  Luckily, I recognized the lake we lived on when I approached it from the opposite direction.  See, landmarks.  Always note landmarks.

Second Rule: Parking.  I don't know why they don't simply paint all the stripes in a parking lot at an angle. Why this nasty crosshatch pattern?  I want a smart car just so I know I'm going to have plenty of space on both sides of me.  Unfortunately, we own a big V-6 pick-up with a topper and a lot of blind spots. And a dirty back window. It's always dirty. Can't help that when you live on gravel roads. I don't envy the next driver to pull that sponged squeegee out of the basket at the gas station when I'm finished with it.  Yep, my glass is all scratched now too. Sorry about that, but at least I can see you.  See, silver linings. I'm all about silver linings.

Anyway, back to parking. I have parallel parked exactly three times in my life -- only during my driver's license tests. Yes, I've taken  the test three times. I hit the parking flags the first time and had an emotional meltdown on the guy administering my test. The second time, I think he leaped into the bushes when he saw me coming so I'd be someone else's problem.  My parking job wasn't pretty, and I was quite a distance from the curb, but he looked at the wide space, looked at me, and decided it would do.  I think they may have talked about me and decided no one wanted to deal with me a third time.  Too bad that didn't work out for them.  He passed me by two points. I actually did go back to them a third time. I'd moved, didn't get my renewal notice, and the time ran out.  I chose to drive the two plus hours just so I could take the test in a familiar place, with those same friendly people.  Ha!

How did I stray off topic?  So anyway, I'll bet you're wondering how I avoid parallel parking?  Well, first of all, I don't drive unless there's a desperate need or pressure put on me to do it. Usually it's not my problem.  On those rare occasions when I've been forced to find a parking space, I'm willing to drive around and around. I'll park down empty streets a good distance from where I need to be as long as I don't have to maneuver my way into a space. I'd much rather hoof it.  I also look for lots and ramps then choose the spaces farthest from other vehicles so it doesn't look terrible when I coax my way in, throw it in reverse, straighten my wheels, take another shot at it, back up again, pull forward, open my door, and see I'm still crowding the line and my back end is angled.  Here's where you should crane your neck, look around for witnesses then simply leave the car exactly where it is.  Gas it too expensive to sweat the small stuff.  As long as no one else's car is in danger, you should be willing to call it good.


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