This week I was pretty excited to get back in the car, and Chris noticed I was way more confident and comfortable driving. We dropped off the previous student at her apartment, tooled around the Exhibition grounds, and then, like a good teacher should, asked if I was ready for the next challenge.
"So, do you think you're comfortable enough to try some parking?"
I have a bad feeling about parking. I mean, maybe this is obvious, but since I'm new to driving I'm allowed to say the obvious. Driving through the streets, getting to go sort of fast (my heart beats a little faster when we get to 40 km, which is, I know, not fast), going from point A to point B and listening to tunes are all fun things. Maneuvering a car into a small space? It's like the opposite of freedom. It sounds tedious, difficult and a little bit stressful. No one ever says, "Driving's okay, but you know what's awesome? Turning down the radio, rolling up the windows and parking the car. Now that's fun."
But of course I said, "Yes! Definitely!" And we drove up to a grocery store parking lot near Dundas West and Bloor. As I was pulling into the parking lot, a friendly looking man in a suit stood to the side and made a welcoming gesture with his arms.
"Wow!" I thought. "What a nice guy! He knows I'm learning, and he's giving me some encouragement."
But Chris waved and said, "Hey! Where you going!?" And the reason the man was being so nice is because he's my driving instructor's godfather, and he recognized the big yellow sign on the roof of the car. It was just another reminder that the huge challenge before me was a challenge countless people have conquered in the past, and this wasn't a big deal for anyone except for me. Right.
So we got into the parking lot, and Chris directed me through the busy area to a quieter zone. He pointed to a spot on the right that I was going to back into, with a car parked on either side.
"Now we're going to count," he said.
First, you count the painted line on the pavement on the far side of the spot you're about to park in, and then two more ahead of you. Then you line your side mirror up with the third line. Then, after putting the car in reverse, you turn the wheel all the way to the right. Holding the wheel tight (and Chris suggested I put my right hand at the base of the wheel to keep it tight). You slowly back the car into the spot, checking your mirrors, until you've lined your side mirror with the tire on the car beside you. And then you find there's an equal amount of space on either side of the car and it's like a magical recipe for perfect parking. Right?
Wrong. I suck! I mean, I don't totally suck, but I had to put the car back into drive and realign the car more than a few times. Chris reminded me that in a test situation, every time you have to correct your parking, a few more points are deducted from your score.
On the way to my instructor's next lesson (a school teacher who takes driving classes on her lunch break), he reassured me.
"We'll work on this again next time, okay? You did great."
Nice words, but my next lesson is on Sunday. Please don't make me do this in a grocery store parking lot on a Sunday! I will be stoned to death by masses of weekend shoppers and their children.