Hairy Traffic Salutations: Goodbye Dreamy Time Starbucks, Hello Parking Terrors.

This is an experiment to see what I can write in 15 minutes.  Only 15 minutes.  

Pickadilly Parallel Parking: Where Ineptitude meets Faithlessness.

I used to drive a Hyundai.  I was a zippy assertive driver and could not only parallel park like a mofo (assuming mofos are above average parallel parkers), but also always had parking mojo (the ability to get an awesome spot quickly.)

My mofo and mojo hit the road when I hit the median and the underbelly of an 18-wheeler on November 19, 2007.

Part of it is that I now drive either the unwieldy Jeep with two baby seats and usually 2-3 stroller in the back or an unweildy 10-year-old Lexus uh, bus, I think it is.  I mention its age because I am self-conscious about driving gas hogs.  We’re green.  Cheap, but green as we can be.  Did I mention I have two sons to transport around town?  And that I love puppies?

Parallel parking in either of those beasts makes me nuts.  Longer street spaces are hard to find when I need them, and I don’t have tons of practice scooting these two cars’ asses into spots (not at the same time, of course.  Or individually, for that matter.)

For some reason, whenever I find a spot and am ready to park, invariably traffic builds up behind me.  Cyclists stop.  People come out of their homes and places of business and worship.  I’m pretty sure that when I put the car into reverse, it triggers some sort of quantum physics reaction whereby most of Chicago can bear witness to my efforts to turn the wheel, back up, turn the wheel, pull forward, ad infinitum, without tapping the bumpers of the cars I’m trying to canoodle with.   Or cars in the street. 

More than once I’ve pulled away and looked for other spots out of sheer embarrassment.

I don’t park well under pressure.

Hell, I don’t back up well under pressure.

We have a long, narrow driveway.  Just the other day as I was taking the boys to their grandparents’ house (or, as we like to call it, Vegas), a garbage truck turned in and barreled towards me.  I was so flustered I couldn’t keep the wheel straight and turned into some shrubs.  Backward.

Worse than seeing the garbage men trying desperately not to laugh was the sound of two little voices from the backseat.  “Uh oh!”

On repeat until I extricated the car from the landscaping.

I assume you can imagine my crank at learning last night’s rehearsal was moved from the next suburb over to the busiest part of Chicago at 7PM.

Granted, I was full o’ the old kerfuffles at having to drive downtown during rush hour instead of a breezy 10-minute drive.  Going to the next suburb gave me choices: leave at 15-20 minutes prior to rehearsal or go early and lavish myself with some quality Starbucks time.  Either way, plenty of parking spots to slide right into.  What made my shoulders tense was the exceedingly limited street parking in that area.  And the throngs of pedestrians who all seem to act like parking a car is an event akin to Haley’s Comet.

Train, you say?  Why yes, if it went anywhere near the rehearsal space.  Or if it had a return train that didn’t leave an hour and a half after rehearsal ended.

I sing in public.  I audition regularly.  I performed one of the most cringe-inducing pieces in The Vagina Monologues with gusto.  I dance in front of people despite having no training.  I gave birth to two human beings in front of at least twenty people.  I parasailed.  I hiked Muir Woods barefoot.  I’ve had Sanka.

But parking in one of Chicago’s busiest, most populated neighborhoods?  That’s my fear.

I left the house early, missing my babies’ dinner time. I battled traffic. 

I found a spot, mercifully, that let me ease in. 

Not 30 seconds after I parked did every single spot in that neighborhood seem snatched up.

Missing my boys, though, made that mojo a mofo indeed.