I have made another entry in my personal notebook titled, Marc’s Anthropological Observations of Humankind. Like Darwin’s Theory of Evolution, my compilation of data and observations will no doubt be of great use to generations and aliens who land here in the far future. On page 47 of my notebook, they will notice my recent observations on parking. Yes, parking. Now here is a skill which, as far as I am concerned, would make a legitimate Olympic competition with the traditional awarding of gold, silver and bronze medals…maybe even designed with dents in them.
Where I live here in South Florida, what is referred to as parallel parking is an endangered species. Most parking here is the “pull in/back out” type common to large shopping center parking lots. This kind of parking is also common along curbed streets here, if they are wide enough to accommodate the format.
Fact is, there is so little need to know how to parallel park in South Florida that many who have lived here most of their lives have no concept of how to do it. I have seen a sudden deer-in-headlights kind of stare on the face of some drivers I’ve been with when they realize they will have to parallel park. I remember one person I was with who panicked when she was faced with having to park the car in a parallel space. She could not do it. We drove on and wound up parking much farther away.
I, on the other hand, was born and raised and taught to drive in a big city. If you wanted to get out of your car, you better darn well have mastered the skill of parallel parking. I lived in Philadelphia, a city with many old neighborhoods of row homes than ran for blocks and blocks. The streets are narrow and always lined with parked cars along the curbs. If you were looking for a parking spot and one became available, you had to know how to get your car into the space, and do it quickly because there were cars stacking up behind you waiting to get through.
Hence, the high art of parallel parking. It even sparked the first page of one of the chapters in my new book, DEAD LETTER. Now, I am sure some of you are saying, “Ah ha, this is where he was going all the time—just another excuse to plug his incredibly exciting and suspenseful new book.”
Okay, I’m guilty…but not ashamed. It’s a fun few paragraphs and if you have ever been to South Philadelphia and had to park your car you will find it accurate. So, here it is, the beginning paragraphs of Chapter 15…
Donald D’Angelo drove his new Ford Tempo around the block several times hoping someone would finally pull out and give up a parking space. This was the one thing he hated most about coming to his parent’s house in South Philly—trying to find a parking space. The blocks of old row homes ran one after the other, interrupted occasionally by a corner storefront, a church or a school. The D’Angelo house was in the middle of the block, but still close enough to Pat’s and Gino’s Cheesesteak stands that the aroma of fried thin beef, onions and melted provolone cheese was a long-accepted part of the environment.
The streets here are narrow, lined on one or both sides by bumper-to-bumper parked automobiles. Most of the streets are one-way, making a repeated circular route looking for a parking space all the more difficult to navigate. Donald D’Angelo had already watched two cars pull away from the curb, but each time the car in front of him quickly maneuvered itself into the vacant slot. Not surprisingly, seasoned South Philadelphia drivers were professionals at parallel parking and had no problem maneuvering into an open space no matter how tight. In South Philly, parallel parking was a skill learned at an early age and one that easily identified native sons from outsiders who had no concept of how to move a car sideways and fit it snugly between two others.
Books by Marc Kuhn. Information at http://www.marckuhn.com
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