Women can do anything - even park

Last updated 15:39 12/03/2009

Greer was a long-time learnerI had my learner licence for almost 10 years before I sat behind the driver's seat of a car.

I often get asked why it took me so long. I guess it was because growing up in bogan car-mad Hamilton meant I was never short of friendly boy-racers (who often masqueraded as boyfriends as well) to drive me around. I also lived a measly 3km from anywhere that mattered (except beautiful Raglan) and a nasty car accident that I was suicide-seat passenger in during my teens meant I was a tad wary of anything motorised.

That's all in the past now though and I absolutely love my car - Bluey, the (white) Nissan Bluebird.

I'm still (embarrassingly) on my restricted, having only just completed 18 months on that licence, and I still (embarrassingly) only drive an automatic - cue: dismissive groans from all male readers. I'm working on remedying both.

But I reckon I'm a pretty good driver. Sure, I'm over-confident, but I think that's a good thing; nothing worse than a hesitant driver, flip flopping between the brake and accelerator and confusing other drivers (and causing accidents) in the process.

I also rate my ability at parallel parking, the arch-enemy of most female drivers.

This became topic of conversation between me and my two flatmates en route to the cinema down the road on the weekend (it was raining, we had to drive...).

Saturday night at the movies was proving popular, so parks were scarce. Eventually we found one - parallel, of course - and the driver groaned sarcastically "Oh, my all time favourite".

The other flattie and I disagreed: "I love parallel parking!" we chimed at the same time.Now that's a parallel park

Some women don't. And I get that. It can be stressful with a line of impatient traffic behind you, beeping their horns. And it can be embarrassing when you've got someone in the car and you ride up on the kerb - not to mention bad for the old wheels.

My sister, who has been a driver for almost 20 years, once said she would drive around forever and/or change her plans entirely in order to avoid a parallel park.

She's not alone; I'd say the majority of ladies would be the same? I've got a pretty big car for Wellington streets (and parks) so when I nail a parallel park, a little voice inside of me tells me to fist punch the air in great achievement and give myself a wee pat on the back. It's a small but gracious victory for all of womankind, I feel.

I reckon I'm pretty good at it though. There's nothing like whipping the car into reverse, swinging round on the steering wheel, one-armed, and slotting Bluey into the space with the grace of a ballroom dancer.

I'll admit there are a lot of shocking female drivers out there, but do you really think the tag that all women are bad drivers is deserved? I've met some pretty shocking male drivers too - heck, a male was driving in the accident I was in.

I think it's got more to do with the person; whether or not they are confident and good under pressure, rather than what tackle is dangling, or not, between their legs.

Wouldn't you think that the fact we can multi-task (drive, change radio station, txt and gossip with our mates - all at the same time... kidding) would mean women would make good drivers?

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23 comments
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kater   #1   10:45 am Mar 02 2009

I squeezed my car into the tightest parallel park last week, and was actually a little bit disappointed when I looked around and realised no-one had witnessed it. Sigh.

My ex is 31 and still doesn't even have his learners. Generally I didn't mind as I love to drive but it used to drive me crazy (pun intended) that I was ALWAYS sober driver.

QuinN   #2   10:56 am Mar 02 2009

There aren't many people who will admit that they are bad drivers, so I'll continue the trend. I would describe myself as a thoughtful driver, but do concede that I'm a terrible parker. I've tried the 'back-in-first' or BIF technique - no good; followed by the FIF. I find the BIF difficult coz I have to look out the side of my glasses (blurry) and am also worried about cars smacking into me. That leaves me with the FIF option. The problem I have here is I never make my initial approach close enough to the parked car. Result? I'm usually parked about half a car width onto the road. I tend to drive tiny work cars and a bigger car of my own. I'm happy to accept any tips. Is BIF any better than FIF? Should I give up and take public transport? Whould I just bash into the other cars?

I've got a mate who does all the driving when he's with his missus. But when it comes to parallel parking he hops out of the car and she takes over. Maybe, the generalisation could be. Women: Bad drivers. Men: Worse parkers.

His Lordship   #3   11:22 am Mar 02 2009

The only good thing about an automatic is that, since you don't need to use one hand to change gears, it is easier to use your cellphone. (Not that you would, of course)

For the record - I am in mortal fear of parallel parking, and basically only do so when the space is probably big enough to have just driven into in the first place.

I failed my first practical driving test all those years ago because I screwed up a parallel park so badly I needed to ask the examiner's advice. Automatic fail! (To be fair, though, the road in question had a steep camber, and I had previously only practiced on flat examples.)

cherub   #4   11:47 am Mar 02 2009

i have a great whale of a car - a holden stationwagon and i can parallel park that baby no problem, right into the curb, no need to straigten up forward-back. straight in. perfect ....most days.... then for some unknown reason i have the odd day out of the blue where i am total crap at it.

Esprit   #5   12:13 pm Mar 02 2009

Interesting Greer,

I've always maintained that (for me) there are two weird things that make a woman instantly sexy (weirdest fetishes ever?):

- A woman that can parallel park (bonus points if you can reverse a trailer!) - A woman that speaks/writes articulately

These are not borne out of any actual desire but sheerly from the fact that in my experience they are both VERY uncommon qualities in the contemporary fairer sex.

Parallel parking is often more difficult for women as, very generally speaking, they're less spatially aware than men. This stems more from a "nurture" aspect of stereotypical gender-based activities when growing up so it's certainly not the case for all women.

Even so, parallel parking is one of those things that does require a bit of practice and it's admirable when you can see that a girl hasn't let the challenge of it beat her and control her driving behaviour... it's perhaps indicative of how they approach life in general? Indeed I've sometimes purposely turned up to a second/third date early to see how they fare at this "test".

God this post makes me sound strange!

cherub   #6   01:11 pm Mar 02 2009

@esprit

...hmmm, yes a little ;^)

chicken   #7   01:54 pm Mar 02 2009

Why do only half my posts seem to appear? Are the other half too annoying?

I'm starting to take it just a wee bit personally but am willing to take on constructive criticism?

Jewey   #8   02:16 pm Mar 02 2009

Hmmm, here is my theory. Surely parking is a pressure/stress thing. Women seem to worry too much what people think and this crosses over to their driving, or bumper cars as it often turns out. Bad parkers, men and women, get so worried about holding up traffic and being abused it flusters them and they don't concentrate. I like my way better. It's my park and I will take my sweet damn time getting in there if I wish. And go on, I dare you to yell at me... grrrrrr.

@ QuinN - I have heard you do like to back on in. And... you're driving is fine, but you are driving a fridge on wheels. As for driving the Big Dog, you can park that anywhere you like as far as I'm concerned. TWSS

paul   #9   02:47 pm Mar 02 2009

<i>I’ve tried the ‘back-in-first’ or BIF technique - no good; followed by the FIF.</i>

This sounds more sexual than Esprit's comment.

em   #10   02:59 pm Mar 02 2009

I'm a good parallel parker, although I always get flustered when I have to parallel park on the 'wrong' side of the road on one way streets! It's just doing what I always do except on the opposite side, but I once took six attempts to get into one of these bastards! Was pretty embarrassing as lots of tourists were taking photos of the building I was parking outside :)


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