I’m An Excellent Driver

1772 1772_ () 1772 1772 This morning, I ran to the grocery store with Henry while the two big boys hunkered down in the front room with fevers. They stayed home from school today, and at least one of them will be home again tomorrow.

After the store, we hit my fave place for getting unsweet tea (with a smidgen of sweet on top). I always have to go in to get the tea because one time I tried getting it at the drive-thru and the lady took my request for “a little sweet on top” to mean she should add some Splenda. One of these days I’m going to tell you about my new lease on life once I stopped drinking Diet Coke (a year-and-a-half ago) and how I will never ever never touch artificial sweeteners again.

That day, when the lady explained adding the Splenda, I asked if I could just pull forward and come inside with my cup to mix my tea properly. So from then on I just go inside to get my tea (why I don’t just make tea myself at home is also another post for another day).

So today Henry and I went inside and I decided to let him run around on the playground for a few minutes while I sat and savored. As we pulled in, I was in the middle of a phone call with Paul. We were hashing out the details of Ethan’s upcoming 13th birthday and right there you can understand why I might have been a tad bit preoccupied. I am going to have a TEENAGER in my home in a matter of days and I’m feeling a wide range of emotions. The good news is I don’t think the “teen” thing really kicks in until at least 14 or 15 and if you haven’t found that to be true let’s not talk about it right now.

So I pulled in, hung up with Paul and unloaded Henry. We sat on the playground for a few minutes until a gentleman, a nicely-dressed man in his early 50s I’d say, came out to where I sat.

“Excuse me,” he said, “do you drive a Chevy?”

At first I pictured an old beat-up truck and I was about to tell him no I don’t until I looked out to the parking lot and realized, yes, I do in fact drive a Chevy. I nodded.

“I can’t get in my car,” he explained. He was very nice about the whole thing.

Upon closer inspection, I realized that I had parked so close to this man’s car that he couldn’t open the door. There was my giant vehicle slightly over the right line of my parking space. All kinds of room on my left, nothing on my right.

“I am so sorry,” I explained, and told him I would move the car right away. He smiled kindly and went back outside.

The man mulled around in the parking lot while I corralled Henry, gathered my things, got a drink refill (of course!) and finally headed out to the lot. I fished my keys out of my purse and then loaded Henry and my stuff before starting the car and driving off.

I wondered, as I apologized one more time and then pulled away, if the man might have decided at some point that climbing over the passenger seat would have made more sense? I couldn’t figure it out. If I had been in that boat I surely would have been annoyed (which he did not seem to be) but I don’t think I would have been nearly as patient.

This happened to me one other time, years ago when I also drove a Suburban (an older model which was even bigger than my current one). The four big boys were all very little and I was inside a drug store, standing in a long line with the boys. A woman came into the store, loudly asked who drove the white Suburban, and I meekly raised my hand. She demanded I go move my car because she couldn’t get in and because I didn’t really want more attention drawn to me than I already constantly got at that point (four boys, five and under) I just got out of line and went to my car, boys in tow.

Now that I am older and wiser, maybe I would have pointed out to the lady that the guy she was with, the one standing right there next to her, maybe he could have gotten in on his side and scooched over and moved the car. But she was a big lady and an older lady and I just didn’t want to mess with anybody.

I don’t know sometimes, if there is a fine line between being considerate and being a pushover. All things being equal, it just worked out to leave and move the car today. I was ready to go and it was just as easy to leave than explain to the man that I really couldn’t go to the parking lot at that exact moment.

Plus, do I really want to be the kind of person who not only can’t properly park an oversized vehicle but who is also a jerk about it? 1772″> .



  1. the Mrs. of the House says:

    Hey Rachel, I can relate to the "bad parking" with large vehicles. I am guilty as well.

    Please tell us all about the Diet Coke story. I refuse to drink it myself, and I am trying to get my husband to stop drinking it.

  2. Thoughts from someone who refuses to be an "environmental terrorist" If you can't park it don't drive it!!!

  3. I'm forever trying to make sure I don't overstep the lines with our on-the-smallish-side SUV. I have a pass to park in the handicap spots (for reasons unrelated to an inability to park a slightly larger than usual vehicle) but the spots for staff with a disability at my work are actually quite smaller than usual. Which makes for some interesting conversations when all us disabled people are trying to get in and out of our cars at the end of the day.

    Once I found myself trapped on both sides and had no choice but to crawl into my SUV through the trunk and over the seats. While 8 months pregnant.

    Parking, when you're an adult, sure isn't as much as when you're a teenager (she says, tongue in cheek in complete innocence).


  4. Anonymous: I can TOTALLY park it. I can park it one handed while on my cellphone…in general.

    Today I was just preoccupied. Seriously, I really do know how to get around in a large vehicle. I learned how to drive in our 15-passenger van!

    Having said that, if you can find me a hybrid that seats eight, I'll totally test drive it.

  5. I drive a minivan and I do my best to make sure I'm always within the lines, but I absolutely cannot stand it when someone parks so close to my car that I can't even get the sliding side door open. In situations like that I'm just really happy that I can hop in the back of the van and work my way up to the front. I would never dream of going into the store to find the driver of the car that is parked too close to me.

  6. Sarah - Kala says:

    Parking can be tricky in Hawaii. We moved here in June, courtesy of the United States Navy. I drive a Honda minivan. . . I'm trying to convince my husband to trade in the van I love (I really do!) for a mini cooper, which I'd just love even more!!!

  7. I just had to comment because this exact thing happened to my sister-in-law. She was on the can't-get-in-the-door side of the situation and proceeded to write a nasty note to the other driver, not unlike your "anonymous" friend above. I can certainly sympathize with the frustration, but it still does not give one an excuse to be ugly and rude. I could not exult with my sister-in-law any more than I can with anonymous. There can be no triumph in ruining someone else's day. I spend a great deal of time trying to be considerate of others and do the right thing, and I'm sure I am not always successful. But I don't appreciate that being pointed out to me. If I had gotten that note, I would have cried.

  8. Please do tell about the Diet Coke – I'm an absolute addict and would love some incentive to quit.

  9. I know this is not the true meaning of the post, but I would LOVE to hear your input on stopping your love of Diet Coke. I need to stop my love of Diet Dr Pepper!!!
    And, congrats on your pregnancy!!!

  10. I drive a Suburban, too, and I have to echo Rachel's comment back to Anon – when they make a hybrid that holds many boys who will likely be VERY tall (at least in my family!), I'll gladly try it out. In the meantime, don't assume that everyone who drives a large vehicle doesn't care about the environment. If I had a small car, and my husband had a small car, then we would have to drive TWO cars everywhere, to get anywhere. That's no better for the environment….! I'm off my soapbox now….!! I gave up Diet Coke about 10 months ago and have never looked back. We also switched to Truvia for coffee sweetner, which is plant based. It's made a huge difference – would love to hear your reasons!!

  11. Anon –

    As frustrating as it is to find yourself unexpectedly trapped (we have all been there) it is NOT the end of the world. Perspective is key. Did you ever stop to think that the "evo-terrorist" may be having a worse day than you? Imagine really wanting to drive a snazzy two seater – the top down – wind in your hair, but not having that as your reality. Talk about frustrating! Just be grateful you are not living in town with a terrorist who "carelessly" blows himself up a little too close to your occupied eco-friendly car.

    Warm Regards,

    Anna B.A.

  12. I park at the back of a parking lot so that I don't block other vehicles when I'm in the 15 passenger. I'm a good driver too but those spaces were not made for the easy navigation of large vehicles. "yes" the driver can get in from the other side but consider they may have their own disabilites (unforseen) that would make climbing over seats difficult.
    I too am interested in the diet coke story, I'm a hopeless full calorie coke addict and have tried and failed to break this habit so many times its sickening!

  13. kerisullivan says:

    I second the desire for a post about artificial sweeteners. My diet coke addiction is out of control. Please convince me to give it up!

    Hilarious post by the way!

  14. Like others, I am keenly interested in your diet coke experiment. While I go for the "real" thing, my husband lives on Diet Dr. Pepper. Could that be contributing to a sour outlook?

    Inquiring minds want to know!

  15. As someone who always tries to give the other person the benefit of the doubt (i.e. – that person didn't mean to park that close to my vehicle and I'll find another way in and not make a big deal of it), I am still surprised at how many other people do not give the benefit of the doubt. It seems, especially when it comes to driving or anything involving vehicles, that people are very quick to give in to annoyance. For instance, the other day as I was leaving the library with my 2 younger boys, my view was blocked by a larger vehicle as I attempted to back out of my space. No problem. I just carefully and slowly started to back out of my space. I was about 1/2 way out when another car came zooming into the parking lot. I saw her at about the same time that she was already laying on her horn and giving me a nasty look (rather than just letting me finish backing out??!!). I pulled back into my space so that she could rush around me. Not sure why she was in such a hurry since she was still sitting in her car by the time I was exiting the parking lot.

    Anyway, I can relate to the whole question of being considerate versus being a pushover. But, I've decided that I'd rather continue to assume the best about people and try not to get as easily annoyed as everyone else seems to get. (Easier said than done many times!)

    The one other thought I had as I read your post is this…if people see that you have your hands full with young children (whether it's one or four) wouldn't you think they'd give you a bit more of a break? I know in my experience it doesn't happen that often.

  16. I think the preoccupation of having a soon to be teen is enough said!! I, too, will have a new teen on the 12th!! Hardly seems possible. My other boys will follow quickly, I am sure! These boys of mine don't seem to listen when I tell them they are all old enough!

  17. class-factotum says:

    Sometimes the reason Car A (my car) is pulled far to the left is that Car B was pulled far to the left, which is why Car C doesn't have enough space either. So it's all Car B's fault for not parking properly in the first place.

  18. Having been on both sides of this problem, I can totally understand your situation, Rachel! One incident that stands out to me took place when I was about 2/3 through my second pregnancy. I had stopped at starbucks for my post-dr.visit coffee and when I came out into the parking lot, discovered that the car next to me was SO CLOSE that there was no way I could squeeze my increasingly-rotund self into my seat. Thinking I knew whose car it was, I sat on my bumper (alternately patiently and impatiently) waiting for the driver to come out with his coffee and move his car. I waited. And Waited. And then the person who I THOUGHT would be moving the car came out and got into another car and drove away. Tired of sitting on my bumper, I decided that perhaps I should just climb through the passenger seat. AT 7 MONTHS PREGNANT. And so, climb I did. I huffed and I puffed. I wiggled and squished. I'm sure it was quite a sight. Especially a sight to the DRIVER of the offending vehicle who, I noticed as I looked over at the too-close car with fire shooting out of my eyes, WAS SITTING RIGHT THERE IN THE DRIVER SEAT DRINKING HIS COFFEE.

    If it wasn't so much trouble, I would have climbed all the way back out just to give him a piece of my pregnant mind.

    And, for the record, I'm with you on the Finding An Environmentally Friendly Vehicle That Fits A Large Family issue. Tomorrow (TOMORROW!) we'll be adding another member to our family, and let me just say that that third carseat in the back has effectively turned my expedition into a 2 seater overnight.

  19. A few thoughts:
    1) the big birthday is Thursday, right? As I recall we have boys the exact-same-down-to-the-day age. 🙂 coming from a mom who does have a 15-year-old also, that whole "teen" bit does NOT in fact seem to start until 14, so you're all in the clear right now. 😉
    2) we all need to hear about breaking yourself of the DC. i have an intense addiction and need help.
    3) the story of a kind person who was not annoyed and asked you nicely to move a vehicle was such a good reminder to love as Jesus loved. to not just automatically SNAP over something someone probably did NOT do on purpose. i get snippy way too often about silly stuff like that, and i tell you the next time someone parks that close to me, i am NOT going to get annoyed! 🙂
    4) why would that first "anon" be mean? i am awfully sorry someone would be not very friendly on this blog, which has always been a source of delight to me, personally! there is NO hybrid that seats more than 5. and when i say five, it means 5 really small people and no carseats. people shouldn't be so judgemental. that's just plain not nice.
    okay, enough rambling – you have to tell about the diet coke!

  20. Anon…please tell us what it's like to never make mistakes. Must feel just divine…

    Rachel, love your humor and your stories. I only have two boys–what would life be like with FIVE!! Congrats and blessings!

  21. This was a great post! I concur that there needs to be an eco-friendly car for bigger families. We have a minivan (23 mpg/hwy) and 3 kids. If/when we are blessed with #4, we will be full and will have think of going to something even bigger for #5 and beyond.

    As far as parking so that people can get in/out, I have a story. My sister in law is in a wheelchair and doesn't have use of her legs. She doesn't drive, but went to the mall one day with two of her sisters. They parked in the handicap spot (with a valid tag) and the person who parked next to them parked too close to get the door open. The sisters called the police to have the car towed b/c they couldn't get sil in the van. Why no one thought to get in and back the van out leaves me scratching my head to this day.

  22. Rachel,
    On time I tried to get order my drink thru a drive thru: 1/2 unsweet and 1/2 sweet tea…well, it didn't work out..it turned out sweeter than usual. All I could think is that they don't like special orders thru the drive thru. As much as I try to make tea at home, it just never comes out as good as restaurant tea. Maybe one day I'll stumble upon the secret recipe for perfect tea!

  23. I think it was very nice of you to go and move the car. Maybe he couldn't scooch in from his passenger side? At least he was polite and kind. I laughed out loud at this: "At first I pictured an old beat-up truck and I was about to tell him no I don't until I looked out to the parking lot and realized, yes, I do in fact drive a Chevy." I'm glad I'm not the only one who can't remember the make and model of our vehicle but only the colour!!!!

  24. Hind's Feet says:

    I think it was very wonderful of you to move the car. Once I stood in the rain for an hour with my (then) six children going wild in the van. I was nine months pregnant and couldn't get in *either* side because cars had parked too close… I had passed my kids in over the back seat through the back doors so they wouldn't get wet… my youngest was 15 months and still breastfed and crying because she wanted to nurse. It was awful… magnified so with my pregnancy hormones, I cried the rest of the day. It was a big shopping center, and I had no idea who the drivers were to go ask them to move.

    I would love to hear your diet Coke story as well. I've been off artificial sweeteners for years, and can't remember how they affected me, but I remember it wasn't good. 🙂

  25. Brand new to your blog, and it's lovely. Have to say, I just don't get this post. You made a mistake (we all do at times)and someone asked you very nicely to fix it. Why in the world would you even think for a moment that you were being a pushover by apologizing? Are you saying you only moved your car because you were ready to go anyway? Yikes! We should all try to be aware when we're parking that we don't get too close to other cars; if we can't, then pick another spot. The size of the vehicle is not an excuse. And if we mess up, fix it. I'm sure you're a very nice person, but this comes across as me me me – I have a teenager, I was on the phone, my tea wasn't fixed right,why couldn't he just climb over,etc. What?? You were absorbed in what you wanted and you inconvenienced someone by parking incorrectly. No excuses.

  26. Jane Ann,

    This is totally me me me. This is my blog and I write what's on my mind. This is what I was going through when I parked my car, and this is my thought process.

    A much less interesting blog post would have read: I parked my car really bad. I moved it. The End.

  27. Okay Rachel, I understand it's your blog and your thoughts. That's fair enough. I actually admire your candidness in giving your thought process even if it's not all pretty. I like it, it's honest. I don't want to read fluff. And you really nailed it with the last sentence of the post, which shows you clearly knew what kind of person you wanted to be (or didn't want to be – a jerk).
    You questioned whether you had been a pushover, and since you're open to comments I gave an opinion on that. A pushover is defined as someone who is easily taken advantage of. I'm just saying, think about it: you made a mistake, someone asked you to fix it. How could that make you a pushover? The pushover would have been the gentleman, had he NOT said anything.
    BTW, I have boys, an SUV, and an addiction to diet coke which I have not been able to overcome.

  28. Thanks, Jane Ann. I really appreciate your thoughts — and for the encouragement that I wasn't being a pushover but rather doing the right thing.