Cluephone: Parallel parking

Typical Suburban Driver: Hello?
Cluephone: Hello, sir/ma’am. This is the cluephone calling.
Typical Suburban Driver: Cluephone? what’s —
Cluephone: Never mind that, sir/ma’am. Have you noticed the car in front of you?
Typical Suburban Driver: What ca — oh, you mean the one with the flashing yellow light?
Cluephone: Actually, in this case it’s red, but you’re correct in that it could be yellow. Anyway, do you know what that flashing light means?
TSD: That it’s about to change lanes?
CP: Try again. This is a two-lane road. There’s only one lane marked for travel in this direction. And when’s the last time you signaled a lane-change?
TSD: Uhhh…
CP: It was in 1982, when you took your driving test, but let’s get back to the question at hand. What does the flashing red light on the back of that car mean?
TSD: That it’s about to make a right turn?
CP: Could be. Anything else?
TSD: It’s about to pull over to the side of the road?
CP: You’re getting warmer…
TSD: It just pulled over, and now it’s re-entering traffic but forgot to turn off the signal?
CP: That’s a very distinct possibility in this part of the county, but you’re wrong again. In this case, that car is getting ready to parallel park.
TSD: Parallel wha?
CP: Sigh. You know, TSD, even though you think of yourself as living in the suburbs, you are actually part of a large metropolitan area. There are now so many cars in your town that they can’t all fit in parking lots. Some of them must park “parallel” to the side of the road.
TSD: But how do they get in there? There must be less than 30 feet between those two cars!
CP: Believe it or not, even your H3 could fit in that spot, if you had a clue.
TSD: But how could I have known that car is getting ready to park? When I see a turn signal, I always assume lane change. Or right turn. But usually I think “lane change.”
CP: And yet not once since you were licensed have you — oh, never mind. I’d better just be blunt with this one. Here goes: HELLO?!? THERE’S NO LANE TO CHANGE IN TO AND NO ROAD TO TURN ON TO!!!! IT MUST BE PARALLEL PARKING!!!!
TSD: But maybe he’s just an early signaller….
CP: …. and maybe he’s on crack. But in this case let’s please assume we have a rational driver. Now what other clues might suggest he’s parallel parking?
TSD: Ummm… there are lots of cars parked here… and there’s an empty space just behind him?
CP: Now you’re starting to get a clue! When a driver signals and slows down in an area where there are lots of cars parked, he or she might be parallel parking! Now, how can you be sure?
TSD: He waves a handkerchief out the window?
CP: NO! He goes into reverse. You see that white light on the back of the car? That means it’s in reverse. So now what do you do?
TSD: Pull up right behind him? Like, say, 3 or 4 feet behind?
TSD: No problem, I’ll just back up.
CP: That would be easier if the numbnut behind you hadn’t pulled right up to your ass, but it’s a start.
TSD: It’s okay, she’s backing up too. Now I’m a good 30 feet back; now what do I do?
CP: Well, it would have been better if you’d managed to stop 30 feet back in the first place. But now that you’re there, just wait a moment or two for the car to p– HEY, WHAT ARE YOU DOING NOW?
TSD: I’m just passing that “parallel parking” car in front of me. I checked; there’s no one coming the other way.
TSD: Sure, you push the long pedal to go, and turn the round thingy to change direction.
CP: All right, screw the Socratic method. We’re going into lecture mode. Clearly you don’t know how your car works, because if you did, you wouldn’t have destroyed my parking strip. When a car backs up and turns, the front end actually swings in the OPPOSITE direction first. So when you try to pass a car that is parallel parking, you are very likely to smash into its front end. When you see a car signal, the first thing you should do is SLOW DOWN. Then figure out what it’s likely to do. If there are lots of cars parked on your street, it may be parallel parking. Stay at least 30 feet back, and you’ll be fine. If he’s parking, he’ll put it in reverse, and you should just WAIT until he finishes. Now, hopefully, you’ll have a clue.
TSD: You mean a parking strip isn’t for parking on?

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2 Responses to Cluephone: Parallel parking

  1. Pat says:

    Thanks Dave, nice post. For someone who enjoys the posts about poop and pooping, and the satire (oh remember those heady days of yore…), this was quite entertaining. The big question is whether you witnessed this while running, or while trying to parallel park. If the latter, my sympathies. Hopefully, you had a good day of writing after this fun ramble.

  2. Chris says:


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