Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Street smarts and book learnin'

When I was 15, I (along with all my friends) took driver's ed. It wasn't offered at our school, you had to go through a private company. In my course (in the suburbs of Houston), there was a lecture series and a driving series you had to complete. For the driving series, there were 7 one-hour practice drives. They were standardized, you went certain places and did certain things on each lesson. When lesson 7 came around, it was pretty much up to the student what they wanted to do. Parallel parking was NOT a requirement (and is not tested in your driving test in Texas, at least for me it wasn't) and it seemed scary and not too useful at the time, so I opted to skip it and take an extra hour of practice on the construction clogged Houston freeways. Reasonable choice at the time.

Fast forward 6 years...I moved to Salt Lake City, Utah and rented a basement apartment very near downtown. There was a small parking lot, but with 5 apartments (it was a house converted into apartments), it wasn't uncommon to have to park on the street. Not to mention going to visit anyone involved parking on the street, and quite a bit of shopping required parking on the street. So I learned to parallel park the hard way, the way that ingrains it into doing it, in traffic, with people waiting. I'd like to think I got pretty good at it.

Today the library parking lot was full. I parallel parked the minivan (which I've never done before). On the first try. My spacing from the curb and the other cars was as perfect as it gets. I will always credit Utah for my parallel parking skills (and an awesome street numbering/address system). Real world learning rocks.


Rachel said...

I learned a bit in drivers ed, but never had to practice it, ever. I did help one of my international friends practice in my car for the test for her drivers license. We practiced parallel parking at the DMV for hours one Saturday. After all those attempts, I can FEEL the parking, if that makes sense.

She failed the parallel parking in the test, though. Test anxiety. She passed her test on the second try.

Carolyn said...

I had to parallel park for my driving test in Texas. This was summer of 1994.

Guess you younguns got off easy.
Or my drivers' ed instructor was an ass, who knows?

Drivers' ed was offered through my high school. I didn't even know I was taking the test when she did it. I thought I was still on a practice run, which made it easier b/c I didn't have a chance to get nervous about it. Parallel parking was the last thing, which I did perfectly for the first time ever, and then she said "you passed your test." And I said, "What? We're already testing?"

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