The Ultimate Guide to Parking Anything

A funny picture of a bad parking job.I’m sure you remember the last time you saw a poorly parked car that was getting in your way. It probably made you angry. You may have even fantasized about doing something to that car. In fact, you might have even done something to that car. And if you hypothetically may have done something to that car, you probably discovered that the car is harder than your foot.

As you limped away, you vowed one thing to yourself: you would never, ever park that badly.

Then you started driving, and you discovered that parking is exactly like rocket science. This is because both you and the rocket scientist will make mistakes. You know what they say: if at first you don’t succeed, reverse, drive, reverse.

Thankfully, there are lots of ways to improve your parking skills, such as bringing a jar of white paint and re-painting the space around your car.

Regular Parking (Cars)

Most of the time, you’ll need to pull into a space that is perpendicular to the road you’re on. For those of us bad at geometry, perpendicular is the one where they show you two lines that have dramatically speared each other through the gut at a right angle.

This isn’t all that hard. You simply turn, pull forward, and somehow magically finish perfectly straight, even though .1 second ago you were three quarters of the way in and at an angle sharp enough to cut yourself on. The magic part is what seems to really stump people, so that’s what you should practice.

Backing In (Cars)

Maybe your car has a hot-pink trunk. Maybe your car likes to watch the other cars go by. Heck, maybe you’re expecting a tsunami and want to be able to make a quick getaway. Whatever it is, you need to have a good reason for backing in, because it is much harder than regular parking.

Most experts recommend that if you’re going to try and back in, you find a reference point to look at so you know when to start praying for more magic. Oftentimes, the reference point is simply one of the lines of the space you’re aiming for, but if you can’t manage that, you can also try to use the shadow of a butterfly, or, at night, Orion’s belt.

Parallel Parking (Cars)

This is a special type of parking reserved for those select people who spend their time making life harder than it needs to be. Sadly, the global population of pacifists also encourages it, because parallel lines are much less violent then their perpendicular war-hawking cousins. So, you might have to parallel park.

Many people will tell you this is a game of angles. “You’ve gotta think the angles, man,” they’ll say. They are only mostly right, as angles are a natural part of life. Want to eat something off of a fork without stabbing yourself through the roof of your mouth? You’re going to need some angles.

Otherwise, angles are not going to be helpful. If you actually calculated all of the angles, including those where you don’t hit the car in front of you, you don’t hit the car behind you, you don’t hit someone in another lane, you don’t hit the curb, you don’t hit a bicyclist, you don’t hit that stupid crow eating trash in the parking spot, you don’t hit the policeman who showed up and wants to know what’s holding up traffic, and you don’t hit the passenger jet 30,000 feet above you, you’re going to end up with some sort of 8 digit, square root of a negative number angle.

Just like every other parking job, you’re going to need some magic, some luck, or a lot of forward-reverse-forward-reverse-neutral-why aren’t I going anywhere, oh god did I break it?-forward-oh hah I was stuck in neutral I knew that-reverse. It sounds involved, but after you’ve totaled six or seven cars (including three that weren’t yours), you’ll get the hang of it.

Parking at a Rack (Bicycles)

Bikes are much nicer than cars when it comes to parking. This is because you are able to lift a bike up. Therefore, you can threaten it: “If you don’t magically park yourself correctly, you’re going to get thrown off a roof, buddy.” You can’t do that with a car.

Oh, you can also just pick up the bike and set it down where you want it, but that’s a lot more work. Besides, 99 times out of a 100, threats will do the job just fine.

The real trick to parking a bike is making sure that it doesn’t get stolen. If you’re in a big city or bad neighborhood, something, no matter how small, will get stolen. It might be your whole bike. It might be just the frame, leaving you with two wheels. You know those little caps that cover the air valves on the wheels? Sometimes, only those will be gone.

You can try to prevent major theft by using a bike lock. Thanks to the internet, though, just about any bike lock can be cracked, picked, sawed to pieces, melted, dissolved, atomized, sub-atomized, or chewed.

So, if you actually care about your bike, you’ll just park it and then stand next to it, treating anyone near you as a potential thief (including the lady with two screaming children. The best criminals use the best cover). Once you’re bored with that, you can un-park your bike and ride back.

Parking in a Bush (Scooter)

It used to be mandatory for every child to own a razor scooter, and you’ll still see various scooter-gangs around town (with their intimidating juice boxes and size 2 sneakers).

Sometimes, though, riding your scooter is the best way to get somewhere. For example, if you have no car/license, have no bike, have a pulled hamstring and can’t walk, have sensitive knees and can’t crawl, and have nothing against publicly humiliating yourself, you should scooter.

Parking is easy. Fold up the scooter, watching all of your fingers very carefully. Actually, that doesn’t make much of a difference; you’re going to get pinched no matter what, so you might as well accept that.

Once it’s folded up, you can carry it around with you. However, if you’ve ridden your scooter to the federal court building, they probably won’t let you take it in. They might not even let you in, if you let them see you riding a scooter. Dismount early, fold it up, and place it somewhere out of sight, like a shrub with branches close to the ground.

Parking is an art. And just like art, it may drive you to insanity, which is often signaled by an urge to slice off your ear. Surely, a good parking job is worth it, however. Just think of how many stubbed toes you’ll be saving. Plus, you’re also potentially saving people from getting chipped keys, wasting peanut butter, using up their last roll of cling wrap, wasting eggs, or dulling their best knife.

Driving on the Freeway: A Guide for Teens

a speed limit sign (funny)“There is nothing to fear but fear itself,” is a famous quote from a great man. Although much of his greatness came from the fact that his middle name was Delano, which struck both admiration and fear in the hearts of his opponents, this quote still rings true.

However, this quote is also one of the most misinterpreted quotes of all time. People like to say this means that you only need to fear the emotion of fear. They, however, are wrong.

What FDR was actually saying was: “There is nothing to fear – but fear itself.” Now, instead of telling you to only fear the emotion, this quote tells you to be very afraid of ‘itself.’ That’s where I come in.

You see, having been blessed with a time-travel-read-minds ability, I can tell you that Mr. Roosevelt meant for ‘itself’ to refer to freeway driving. He changed that to ‘itself,’ an ambiguous pronoun, only because his speechwriters thought that freeway driving was too much of a polar issue.

Even today, this quote rings true for most teens. I mean, here you are, learning how to drive, scared of hitting people, cars, and squirrels, when you suddenly find out about the freeway.

Your first impression of the freeway can make it seem a bit daunting. Your second impression of the freeway will scare you more than the word ‘Delano’. This is because driving on the freeway means:

  • You have to go really fast
  • You have to change lanes while going really fast
  • You have to avoid hitting other cars while changing lanes and going really fast
  • You have to be surrounded by other cars going really fast and changing lanes as you try to change lanes while going really fast
  • You have to go really fast

The freeway can be scary. But it doesn’t have to be, if you follow this advice.

Avoid Traffic

One of the main factors of how scared freeway driving will make inexperienced teen drivers like yourself is the number of cars on the road. More cars=more things to hit or be hit by.

The easy solution, then, is to avoid times when cars are usually on the freeway! Some great times to drive with little or no traffic include between the hours of 10PM-5AM on weekdays and 3AM-10AM on weekends. Just plan ahead so you get to your destination on time. Another great time to drive is when the freeway is closed for roadwork, because then you’ll be the only car on the road.

Avoid Trucks

Trucks can also strike fear into your heart. After all, they are huge, block your vision, and can’t stop quickly. Not to mention that trucks weigh so much that if they accidentally flattened your car the driver would not notice. At most, he’d figure that he’d hit a pothole. Meanwhile, you’d now be two dimensional, or one-dimensional in worst-case scenarios.

A great way to avoid trucks is to post a sign at the exit right before you get on the freeway that says, “EXIT 34: FREE FOOD FOR ALL TRUCK DRIVERS.” Also, you can just drive a very low car, like a sports convertible, so you can drive under the trucks and not have to worry about being crushed.

Avoid Lanes

Lane changes. Normally a pain, they become horrific on the freeway. You are supposed to check your mirrors, look behind you, signal, and check your mirrors again, all while you are supposed to be looking forward and not hitting anything.

So, the easiest way to avoid lane changes is to avoid lanes. Only drive on the freeway if you are in the middle of the country where many freeways have only one lane. Otherwise…

Avoid the Freeway

The easiest way to avoid being scared of freeway driving is not driving on the freeway. Duh. That’s why Google Maps was invented, to help teens everywhere find alternative routes. Who cares that the estimated travel time takes an extra four hours? At least you’ll have a normal heart rate when you arrive.

3 Sections of the Driver’s Manual That You Need To Know

Teens have a reputation for being good drivers.  After all, if you look at the stats, teens are less likely to accidentally hit their own children pulling out of the garage, less likely to forget where they parked (in the fire lane), and more likely to take shortcuts through agricultural fields in 4-wheel-drives (thereby saving the taxpayers the average cost of road repair/per usage).

However, in recent years (starting in 1912 with Model T Fords), teens have somehow failed to make the rest of the population realize just how awesome our driving skills are (“Look, Papa! I fixed the ox’s ribs right up! Almost like the Ford never hit ‘im!”).

In an effort to remedy this, and possibly get banned from driving for the rest of my life, I figured I would draw to your attention some very useful and interesting tips I found in my State’s driver’s manual.

The first point I think doesn’t receive enough attention is:

Weapons

In a direct quote, here is what you need to know:

“Never discharge a firearm, bow and arrow, or other weapon on or across a highway.  Only police officers in the line of duty are exempted from this law.”

First, obviously, is the really important part about the bow and arrow.  I think that is a warning of a nearby escapee, because if I saw somebody with a legitimate bow and arrow shooting at cars on the highway, I would assume the nearby asylum had a jailbreak.

It doesn’t matter, though, because if you read the whole two-line paragraph there is no penalty, aside from the fact that it says never and you could be shot from the other side of the highway by a police officer.

The second thing I want to bring to your attention is:

Overlength and Overwidth Loads

Overlength and overwidth loads have become an increasing problem due to a rise in obesity rates, which is why I would like to highlight this passage:

“A red flag, at least 12 inches square, must be shown at the end of any load that extends four feet or more beyond the rear of the bed or body of a vehicle.

Loads may not extend more than…six inches beyond the sides of the right fenders…[or] more than four feet in front.”

To start, I don’t understand the red flag law.  It seems that adding a square foot of red cloth to the end of a load makes it even longer and more unbalanced.  In fact, this is likely the reason, if the load overbalances, that it falls off and causes an accident.

Also, I think that we should ‘learn from history,’ as somebody put it, and make regulations to solve obesity (especially childhood obesity).  I’ve no idea what the penalty would be, but I imagine that the rules would be: “The stomach/belly may not extend six inches beyond the sides of the right fenders or more than four feet in front.”

Then all we have to do is convince people to buy smart cars, killing two birds with one stone!  The thinking is that smart cars have smaller fenders, forcing people to lose weight, and they are also good for the environment (so maybe killing birds was the wrong expression-I really meant to say two birds in the bush is better than one in the hand, environmentally, unless a stone falls on the bush, in which case you should bash whoever came up with those sayings over the head with a carved-stone bird).

Another vital section of the Driver’s manual is the part about:

Freeway Vehicle Trouble

As quoted:

“If you have vehicle trouble on a freeway, move to the right shoulder or emergency stopping area as soon as you can…If you stay with your vehicle, a police patrol will stop to help you when they come by if they are not on another call.”

The reason I pulled out this section for your notice is because it plain and simple makes about as much sense as my history textbook.

If you have vehicle trouble, how are you supposed to get to the right shoulder? The only reason you’d ever stop on a freeway is for something serious enough that you wouldn’t be able to move the car at all.

I suppose this, just like my history textbook, hasn’t been updated since 1905, so back in ‘the day’ you could just borrow the donkey of the person passing you on your left and tow your car over to the side of the road (donkeys, like your grandparents, were faster in 1905 then they are now, so it is plausible a donkey was passing on the left).

Secondly, if you do make it to the right shoulder, you’re doomed anyway.  A police patrol will not stop to help you ever, because they will always be on another call, namely the “Required Freeway Accident to Hold Up Traffic and Fill Up the Evening News so You Don’t Get There On Time.”  This is why all the abandoned cars you see on the side of the road are from at least the 80’s, as people lose patience after 23 years.

With these three sections in mind, along with some advice from my English teacher, who said, “Always look for connections,” I’ve got one more piece of information for you:

“If you have an oversized load of bow-and-arrows marked with a red flag and there are no bad jokes in sight, then you can certainly dump your load and give somebody else freeway vehicle trouble thus causing you to be shot by a donkey from the other side of the road who is exempted from sticking six inches over his fender.”

So, if you’ve had your driving lessons and passed the driver’s quiz then I highly encourage you to keep these four things in mind to make for safer driving.

Teenagers: We don’t Deserve Our Bad Rep

Tim Jones has put my guest post that I wrote for him up at his blog, under the “Guest Post” section.  Because his audience is mainly adults, I figured I would capitalize on the opportunity to defend the worldwide reputation of teens everywhere, so people will finally realize what perfect little angels we are.  I highly recommend that you check out not only the post (which I think you’ll find funny), but Tim’s humor blog as well.

“Wow! Ridiculous! Phil has really outdone himself this time! If you liked ‘A Tale of Two Cities,’ you’ll find this even funnier!”-The NYT*

*Note: Since I mentioned yodeling nowhere in the the post this time, I, uh, encouraged the NYT to give such a great review.  (Not sure what I’m talking about? Click here).